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Is it possible to trick the GoGo Inflight WiFi on airlines into thinking that you have a mobile device instead of a laptop?

It seems like most airlines that offer in flight wireless these days use GoGo. They offer different pricing for mobile and laptops. It seems like they are checking the browser's user agent.

Out of curiosity, is it possible to use a Firefox extension like this one to spoof the user-agent and allow a laptop to access the internet under a GoGo mobile plan? How would GoGo handle something like an IMAP email client, like Thunderbird. Do IMAP clients have a user-agent field as well that would normally identify whether the mail client is running on a laptop or mobile device?

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You should ask the GoGo folks for permission to use their network in this manner to avoid potentially violating their Terms of Service (which could include a clause restricting which devices are permitted). The fact that they go to this trouble to limit which devices are used is the reason I wonder if their contract might include such a restriction. – Randolf Richardson Jun 21 '11 at 16:37
Good point. I guess it just got me thinking about the technical aspects. Not sure if I will bother trying it out. Thanks. – AndyL Jun 21 '11 at 17:14
You're welcome, but please don't be discouraged -- I was just recommending you get permission first; if you ask and they do give you permission (I find that people usually will), then you've eliminated the ethical roadblock because your usage will have been legitimized. – Randolf Richardson Jun 21 '11 at 17:26
@RandolfRichardson I'm not sure GoGo employees are in position to give you permissions on something which contradicts ToS. – Dmitry Grigoryev Oct 2 '15 at 23:08
up vote 5 down vote accepted

You can change your user agent by entering "about:config" in the address bar and adding the key "general.useragent.override".

User agent checking would indeed be the simplest way to find out if the device is a mobile phone or a computer. I have already tried this on my mobile network (which only allows cell phones), and it worked.

The IMAP protocol does not include a "User-Agent" field.

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Some wifi setups require you to authorize your IP by clicking a button on an agreement page. If this network is similar, the above trick should enable you to authorize your IP and then IMAP should work as expected. – Chris Nava Jun 21 '11 at 16:58
If anybody is curious, I tried this tonight on an Alaska flight. I spoofed the UA in FireFox to look like an iPhone, and it gave me the mobile price. – user107280 Nov 29 '11 at 9:08

@AndyL: Looking at an excerpt of the Gogo Terms of Use below, I think by intentionally changing the user agent, you'd be in violation of some topics in 6.1.4, 6, 11 and/or 15.

Not judging, but your use of the word "trick" implies that the reasons for changing the agent string may not be altruistic. I assume that the Gogo pricing schedules are different based on cost estimates for laptop vs. mobile users. If you want to take advantage of their mobile plan, just pull out your phone or iPad. Why even deal with the ethical quandry.

  1. Acceptable Use and Conduct

6.1 Acceptable Use Policy. You hereby agree to comply with Aircell’s acceptable use policy (“Acceptable Use Policy”), as described below. You will not use the Service to (or assist another person to):

  1. Engage in any fraud or misrepresentation;
  2. Interfere with, disrupt, or create undue burden on the Service (or the networks or computers that provide same);
    1. Access any network or computer (including those providing the Service) in excess of the permission expressly granted to you;
    2. Attempt to impersonate any other person, including any Aircell employees.
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Point well taken. – AndyL Jun 22 '11 at 1:28
This is implied with the act. – Kermit May 15 '13 at 15:00

Retrieving email works fine but sending IMAP email is barred on GoGo "for security reasons" (per GoGo). Verified using TB 3.1.11 client

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