Day in the Cloud goes live at 30,000 feet

Earlier in the month, we told you about Virgin America and Google’s Day in the Cloud Event. And yesterday, I let you know that I would be on board one of the competing flights to take part in the event at 30,000 feet. And that’s exactly where I was this morning as I answered trivia questions, solved puzzles and joined thousands of people on Virgin America flights and on the ground competing to win tons of great prizes. I even tweeted for Gadling during the flight. So, what happens when technology, puzzles and flying intersect? Organized chaos and lots of fun.

I was on flight 921 from LAX to SFO. A competing flight from SFO to LAX was attempting to beat the best score on our flight. But there was one glitch: there were log-in issues when it came time to connect to the gogo in-flight wifi. It seems that there may have been problems with the company that handles the billing for the internet service. So, when a plane-load of people attempted to log into the system simultaneously, a Day in the Cloud became, temporarily, a day at the “still loading” screen.

Eventually, most of the issues were worked out. They even found the bandwidth for Good Day LA to broadcast live on the flight. Reporter Suzanne Marques covered the event and you may even spot me when you watch her segment (Hint: I’m wearing a Gadling t-shirt).

Google created the game and put together a tough contest. I was seated next to professional puzzle designer and competitor Wei-Hwa Huang, who was invited to take the challenge. He seemed to have a much easier time solving the puzzles and finding the answers in Google Apps than I did. His mental gymnastics and fast fingers resulted in the highest score of anyone on the two competing flights, which meant that everyone on Flight 921 walked away with prizes.

What can we learn from the Day in the Cloud? Well, in-flight wifi is here to stay, but, there are still some kinks to work out. For one, gogo sets the pricing for the airlines but they are considering lowering the costs to entice more users. Right now, many people find it too expensive. Also, the 3G network, while reliable, is still glitchy at times, especially if there is a rush of people logging in. However, I was impressed with the overall speed and reliability of the system once things settled down a bit and I’d defiitely utilize the service in the future.

The Day in the Cloud contest is running all day today, so you can still compete at home, in the office or on a Virgin America flight. Remember, though, that when the captain puts on the Fasten Seatbelt sign, that you need to return to your seat, buckle up and put your thinking cap on. My bad jokes, like wifi on Virgin America flights today, are free.