GoGo In-Flight Wifi For BlackBerry Hack on Delta Airlines (User Agent Hack)
Currently (Until June 30th), Blackberry is sponsoring free in-flight wifi via GoGo on all Delta flights. I found this out when I was boarding my plane last Wednesday after having not flown for a while, when I realized that most of my Google Play Music collection isn’t pinned for offline listening. Thankfully, I had some of that weird-ass free music Google puts out all the time, so I enjoyed listening to some samplers and drinking a diet cola and whiskey.
But it got me thinking: how on earth does the wifi know if you’re a blackberry user or not? I first thought maybe it was a unique MAC (media access control) address from the device’s wifi radio, but because different phone manufacturers might source wifi radios from the same place, that isn’t feasible. The only other thing reporting what kind of hardware you are using in a standard transaction is your web browser’s User Agent String. It usually says something about what kind of device you’re on, what operating system that device runs, and the version and name of your browser software. It’s also *easily* fooled.
I got settled in at the hotel Wednesday night and I found a message on SlickDeals that confirmed my suspicions – my plan to simply spoof my User Agent String to say I was a blackberry user is exactly what folks tried, and it worked!
I decided I would give it a try on my flight home. Here’s a good link for how to change your User Agent String in just about any PC browser. On iDevices (which I don’t have an iPhone, iPod, or iPad, or iPad mini), you can use an app called Journey Lite as your web browser temporarily. For Android devices, which is what I had (my Droid Razr and Kindle Fire), you can download Dolphin Browser from the Play store.
For any of the above programs, you need to go into settings and find something that says “Pretend to be…” or “Emulate Device” or “User Agent” and make sure you’re choosing the option to enter a custom user agent. When you are prompted to enter the custom user agent, put in the following (possibly without quotes):
“Mozilla/5.0 (BB10; Touch) AppleWebKit/537.10 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/10.0.9.773 Mobile Safari/537.10”
Once onboard, the gist to sign on to free wifi on Delta is like so:
- Wait until you are at 10,000 feet for Gogo In-Flight Wifi to turn on.
- Power back on your device and make sure it is in airplane mode, then turn wifi on.
- Connect to the access point called “Gogo.”
- Open Dolphin Browser on Android, Journey Lite on iDevices, or your browser with the User Agent changed on your PC.
- Try to go to any site, for example, RagingTech.com
- You’ll be presented with a GoGo screen that will ask you to connect to free wifi.
- You may have to enter a Captcha code to continue. Do that.
- Once it says you are connected you are free to browse the internet for that session with any app or browser you prefer, it will remember you for the duration of the flight.
A quick note: GoGo in-flight wireless is kind of slow. It was good enough to stream music without much interruption, but I couldn’t get the Netflix or Hulu apps to load completely, and trying to watch something was pretty much impossible. It’s not blocked, they just don’t have the bandwidth to support much video. I didn’t try YouTube or other services.
If you see promotions similar to this in the future, do a quick Google search and find out what the User Agent String is for the devices being offered free wifi. These steps should still work, you’ll just need to adjust the User Agent String.
Enjoy your free wifi, at least until June 30th when the promotion by Blackberry ends!