T-Mobile Adds Free Gogo Inflight Texting

Earlier in the year, T-Mobile announced a bit of a game changer with their Simple Choice International Plan. Through this, you’d receive unlimited texting and data in 122 countries worldwide, which is really amazing for the frequent international traveler.

It looks like they’re adding yet another feature which travelers should love. As of September 17, 2014. T-Mobile will be offering free in-flight texting thanks to a new partnership with Gogo:

Starting September 17, T-Mobile will be taking service to new heights with free in-flight texting, picture messaging, and access to T-Mobile Visual Voicemail. It’s a brand new, exclusive partnership with Gogo®, only for T-Mobile customers.

Stay in touch like you’re on the ground, on Gogo equipped US airlines, at no extra cost. The sky is now unlimited.


Here’s how it works:

Before you board

  • Have a Gogo-ready device
  • Update device software over Wi-Fi, if needed
  • Make at least one Wi-Fi call
  • Have a valid E911 address on file with T-Mobile
  • On iPhones, both the sender and the receiver must turn on “Send As SMS”
  • Don’t forget your carry-on

In the air

  • Turn on Wi-Fi
  • Open your browser
  • Click the T-Mobile banner on the Gogo start screen for free access
  • Ask for extra pretzels

You’re ready to go

  • Text away
  • Send picture messages
  • Access T-Mobile Visual Voicemail (respond with a text mid-flight!)
  • Enjoy the future, you’ve arrived


Personally I have a monthly Gogo inflight membership, so the only way in which it would benefit me is that I could use my phone for texting and laptop at the same time (when you have a membership you can only use one device at a time). Then again I have iMessage on my phone, so even that isn’t especially useful. Of course those without a Gogo membership would probably find this much more useful.

I’m actually planning to switch to T-Mobile soon for the free unlimited international data anyway, so this is yet another nice perk.

Is anyone else tempted to switch to T-Mobile due to their new travel-friendly features?

(Tip of the hat to Steve)

Filed Under: Travel, Travel Technology
  1. The free international data/texting and 20 cent phone calls even while roaming sold me. Sadly, their coverage is so spotty where I live (and wifi calling doesn’t work well enough) so I am about to go back to a much less attractive plan with a carrier that works.

  2. I too will be switching to T-Mobile when my current plan expires next year.

    The international data is a MAJOR factor, as is the US 20 cents/minute international calling for when I’m out of the country. Skype limits me to a WiFi connection which I don’t always have when abroad. T-Mobile seems to understand offering value to their customers.

  3. Let’s not forget WiFi-calling. AT&T won’t even consider it until 2015, and thus my family is leaving AT&T after 15+ years.

  4. Tmobile’s network in the U.S. is horrible. I too was going to switch to tmobile but several of their current and former customers talked me out of it.

  5. Our company switched months ago and it is a big cost benefit. T-Mobile domestic is no better and no worse than other domestic carriers. We had Sprint for years and it stunk just as bad as T-Mobile. They both have different dead zones is the only difference. I actually think T-Mobile downloads on email seems a little quicker than Sprint was when I had them. Sprint used to take forever to download all the content from emails when landing from a five hour cross country flight. Where I find T-Mobile weakest is in convention centers or big box type stores.

  6. It does look like T-Mobile is only offering one version of the iPhone 6, the one with the smaller screen. Which is fine, but I thought I would just point it out.

    If I’m misunderstanding, I’m happy to be corrected.

    Value prop. still seems pretty good, though.

  7. I’ve tried ATT, Tmobile (for almost a decade before they had the iPhone), and most recently Sprint (on a family plan — got a great discount for family plan at corporate rate) I wouldn’t say one is better than the others, though if I must rank in terms of deadspots, I’d say ATT had the fewest problems, followed by Tmobile and Sprint. (In all fairness, I had major problems with ATT reception with iPhone 4…)

    The international data coverage with Tmobile has convinced me to give Tmobile another shot. Rest of my family wants to stay on Sprint, but I bought a brand new plan to test it and see if it’s worth the switch long term. I need to decide if I want to buy an unlocked phone just to stay with Tmobile or get a subsidized version on a plan that works and has been working for my family (though I personally really preferred a GSM phone and a factory unlocked phone and a no-contract phone so I don’t have to be tied down to any carrier). So that’s T-Mobile for me right here, though I have been pondering a lot about my phone needs and options these days.

  8. @TravelinWilly: T-Mobile is definitely selling both; however, they may be *currently* not taking any more preorders for the 6 Plus (which is supposedly in short supply for all carriers) because they’ve already allocated the first couple shipments.

  9. I’m considering switching back to T-Mo as well. I just found out they have a “Test Drive” offer where they ship you an iPhone 5S for free to let you use it for 7 days to see how you like their service. Then you drop it off at a T-Mo store. They do place a $699 hold on your credit card but don’t charge you unless you don’t return the phone or break it ($100). Mine shipped today so I’m anxious to test it out. The iPhone 6 on T-Mobile only has a feature to allow wifi calls when you are in a weak coverage area. I had T-Mo 5 years ago and they were great but when I moved, my house had no reception. I’ve since moved again so I’m giving them the chance to get me back.

  10. You could already do this and you don’t even need to be on t-mobile. At least on android there is an app called “gogo text” you have to sync it once on the ground then you can use it to text on any gogo equipped plane.

  11. I’ve been a T-Mobile customer from day one (from the 90’s, when its predecessor was called Voicestream!) and it’s always been the best for international travelers (being GSM and all). The Simple Choice international roaming plans simply made it the absolute best now. I NEVER have to think about how much a call is going to cost when I’m traveling, which is awesome. The unlimited data is, of course, useless as it is basically 2G, but they offer decently priced “upgrade packages” for $10 and $20 to bump up the speed for a week or whatever. I use those and it’s great to know upfront how much I’m going to spend — no surprises.

  12. I live in the DC area and switched one of my lines to TMo (kept the business line with VZ as they have by far the best coverage in VA), and was generally happy on a recent trip to France. Contrary to what others have reported, the data speed was far from “useless.” I even got 3G for a good part of the trip. Even on 2G it wasn’t bad. Yes it took about 10-15 second for me to look something up in Google Maps instead of less than a second on domestic LTE, but 15 seconds isn’t really THAT long.

    That said, the coverage anywhere outside “Metro DC” in Virginia with TMo is pretty horrible. I get LTE with VZ basically across the entire state–even back woods, dirt road locations. With TMo, if I get off a main road (interstate or US highway), I have no service at all most of the time.

  13. @ Lucky,
    Before you make the switch you may want to read T-mobile’s terms and conditions for their Simple Choice international text and data product. There is one particular condition that may affect you: “Not for extended international use; you must reside in the U.S. and primary usage must occur on our U.S. network. Device must register on our U.S. network before international use. Service may be terminated or restricted for excessive roaming or misuse.” It doesn’t specify exactly what qualifies as “extended international use.” You may want to find out before switching.

    That being said, I was a long time T-Mobile user before switching to iPhone and forced onto AT&T’s network. I recently switched back and so far it’s been nothing but blue skies. I’m paying about $20/mo less than my heavily discounted grandfathered “unlimited” plan with AT&T and it’s true unlimited…no throttling. If you have a cellular radio equipped data only device like an iPad they will give you $10 off your chosen data plan when you “bundle,” and all data plans are currently $10 off through the end of the year, so that makes their entry level 1gb plan FREE.

    I’m really looking forward to giving the international text/data a go in a couple months. I’m not worried about the slow data speeds others are complaining about. I want juuuuust enough bandwidth to keep in touch with my friends while on walkabout without being TOO connected.

    The only real downside to T-Mobile is the sticker shock associated with buying an unsubsidized phone. However in the long run it’s still significantly cheaper than a 2 year subsidized plan.

  14. Re: T-Mobile data speeds in Europe: USA iPhones don’t have the LTE channels used in Europe, so you can’t get high-speed data when using one. Last May, I got mostly 3G data on my iPhone 5 in Germany, Netherlands, Luxembourg, and France. The fact that text and data were free and voice calls were $.20/minute meant that I didn’t have to scramble for local SIM cards and had my own phone number. These are all good reasons for international travelers to use T-Mobile IMHO.

    Domestically, there may be areas where T-Mobile’s coverage isn’t as good as other carriers, but since they got the big bucks from ATT after the merger failed, they’ve invested a lot in infrastructure and it’s much better than before. Couple that with placing calls over WiFi if its available (coming soon) and their offer of a free microcell ($25 deposit) if coverage in your primary location is not optimal and you aren’t on WiFi, and you’re not on contract — take up to two years to pay for the phone in full and your monthly rate drops after it’s paid off — etc. etc. etc.

    I’m a happy T-Mobile customer.

  15. I am reading your blog from seoul right now using tmobile roaming data on Korea Telecom. Works respectably well considering I now do nothing but get off the plane and turn my phone on. Not worrying about taking a call or buying a sim or leaving email push service on is fantastic. Service quality does vary country by country but even in china it sees to work ok. I love tmobile – in as much as anyone can love a telecom company!

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