Virgin Atlantic to launch in-flight wi-fi from 2015

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When I flew Virgin America last week (review to follow) I was very impressed by their in-flight wi-fi service.  It was fast and at $3 for 30 minutes – more than enough for a 50 minute flight – not expensive.

The wifi provider was Gogo which has established itself as the default provider for most US airlines.  Last week, Virgin Atlantic announced its own deal with Gogo.  This will see in-flight wi-fi with download speeds of up to 70Mb available from mid-2015.

Virgin 787

It makes Virgin the first European airline to use this technology and is presumably another benefit from the tie-up with Delta, an existing Gogo customer.  Gogo leases transponder capacity from major commercial satellite operators such as SES and Intelsat.  It is a different and faster system to that used by Virgin America which works by connecting with base stations on the ground – obviously not an option when flying transatlantic!

The Gogo service will not be free to passengers but, based on my experience of using Gogo on Virgin America last week, it will not be extortionately priced either.

This deal is likely to increase the pressure on British Airways to agree its own inflight wi-fi deal, as the ability to work is likely to be valued by the corporate market.  It may be less valued by the business traveller of course ….

In other news, Virgin has announced that its first non-American 787 route – pictured above – will be Delhi.  This comes just weeks after the carrier announced that it was abandoning flights to Mumbai in order to focus on the North American market.

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  1. Gogo is big in the US. A few months ago I flew from Chicago to SFO on AA in First Class. The only way of having in-flight entertainment was to install Gogo Video and pay (yes, even in First) for movies you wanted to watch. And, of course, you could also pay for wifi. Other than feeling a slight peeve that at the front of the plane this sort of thing ought to be free, I was impressed by the system. US carriers, clearly, think that just about everyone is going to have with them at least one piece of kit that can do a wifi connection. If you don’t, you still need a good book to sustain you on a lengthy flight!

  2. Maybe it will become more value by the business market. I understand that most biz travellers have to travel in their “own” time. If they are working on board, that might change./

  3. I recall using the wifi on Oman Air about 3 years ago…

  4. BA’s been working on it’s wifi scheme for ages – a 747’s been flying with inflight wifi for something like 6 months now. They don’t seem in any particular rush to roll it out though as they’ve said this trial will continue all year.

  5. “This comes just weeks after the carrier announced that it was abandoning flights to Mumbai in order to focus on the North American market.”…
    along with abandoning of UK domestic routes, through the axing of Little Red from March and September next year.

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