SiFi Gatekeepers are definitely flaky
There are a number of obstacles that a WiFi gatekeeper must overcome and these may not work the same way on every device. Typically, your home page or first page requested will be diverted to the obligatory waiver, etc. Depending on the browser you are using and how that browser's security is configured, diverting may not be possible. After all, diverting you to a page you didn't ask for is exactly the kind of behavior that browser security is trying to stop. As a programmer, I would judge this to be a tough problem to overcome because you would have to anticipate many different browsers and configurations.
Originally Posted by garyfritz
That said, many of the WiFi gatekeepers are not well maintained. The owner of the venue probably thinks of public WiFi as a nice thing to offer but not the end of the world if it is not working for some guests. Maintaining a gatekeeper is also expensive because the configurations that the software has to deal with changes on a daily basis. How many times have you upgraded to a new version of your favorite browser only to find that websites that worked fine on the old version are not happy with the new setup.
There is a way to avoid this entire issue. You could buy a "hotspot" device from your cellular carrier but the device is about $50 and you have to have a data plan connected to the device. The data plan will have a monthly cost. (Verizon's hotspots are available with a data plan tat can be disabled when you don't need it and re-enabled any time you want. This saves some of the cost. But, you probably have a data plan already. It is connected to your smartphone. As an example, I have Verizon as my carrier and a Samsung S5 smartphone. This phone comes with Mobile Hotspot already installed as part of the Android operating system. Verizon used to charge a $20 per month "tethering fee" but a settlement with the FCC requires them to offer tethering for free. To find it on an Android phone; go to Settings, More networks, and turn on Mobile Hotspot. There should be an equivalent app or setting on any smartphone. The mobile hotspot on Verizon is quite fast and can support 10 devices. TIP: Running your phone as a mobile hotspot really impacts battery life so connect to a charger. Battery life is why I don't leave the mobile hotspot enabled unless I am using it.