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Free Wi-Fi on some domestic flights, courtesy of Google

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(Read caption) Beginning on Nov. 20, and extending through the first days of 2011, Wi-Fi access will be free on all domestic Delta, Air Tran, and Virgin America flights. You can thank Google.

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Generally speaking, there is no worse time to fly than November and December – the airports are jammed, the security lines are long, the delays are many. So here's a piece of good news for flyers getting ready to brave the holiday rush: From Nov. 20, 2010, to Jan. 2, 2011, Google has teamed up with Delta, Air Tran, and Virgin America to provide free Wi-Fi to all passengers on domestic flights handled by the aforementioned airlines.

For a moment, let's put aside the fact that Wi-Fi should probably always be free, to all passengers, especially considering the jacked-up rates that come rolling in around Thanksgiving-time. This is a nice thing, basically, and around the Horizons dinner table, we will give thanks to Google for having allowed us to watch the latest episode of Modern Family on the long flight back home.

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The details: the Holiday Wi-Fi program, which is officially sponsored by the Google Chrome browser, is an extension of a similar 2009 event. The difference here is that the 2009 program included only Virgin America, while this year's spectacular ropes in Delta and Air Tran, thus getting more Wi-Fi to more people in more planes around the country.

"Not too long ago," Google exec Sundar Pichai wrote on the official Google blog, "flying home for the holidays meant disconnecting for several hours until you touched down at your destination. Today, Wi-Fi technologies allow us to stay connected even at 30,000 feet above the ground, so we can read the news, browse the web (to beat the long-haul boredom) and send that last-minute planning email before the family reunion."

"This holiday season," Pichai added, "there will be more connected flyers than ever before."