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I try out BEAM, the Virgin Trains West Coast on-board entertainment system

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I promised to write about the new Virgin Trains (West Coast) entertainment system a couple of weeks ago but it slipped back.  I will correct that today.

When I was in Manchester in the Virgin Trains lounge, reviewed here, I saw a big poster suggesting that I download the Virgin Trains BEAM app to my iPhone so that I could check out the on-board entertainment.

BEAM is Virgin Trains’ complimentary on board entertainment service that you can access from your phone or tablet.  It has its own website here.

Usually I’m not the sort of person to download random apps.  However, as the wi-fi connection on-board Virgin Trains West Coast isn’t always great and I was never able to stream Netflix or YouTube, I decided to try BEAM.

IMG_0445

Unless you want to use your phone’s 4G data allowance, you should download the app at home (or in the Virgin lounge) as the on-board wifi won’t let you download any apps.

The key thing to note is that, whilst it is transmitted using the on-train wi-fi aerials, the BEAM signal is not dependent on the quality of the external wi-fi connection.  The app was working when the wi-fi connection on my laptop was bad.

Once on board you need to connect to the Virgin Trains wi-fi and register your device with your email address.

Then you’re set up to watch box sets, documentaries, movies, play games or read magazines.

BEAM app enter contact details

Here is a screenshot of what a part of the selection looked like when I was using BEAM:

IMG_0473

You can only use BEAM whilst onboard a Virgin train.  If your journey ends, the app remembers where you got to and next time you board a Virgin train you can finish your movie!

I also enjoyed the games selection:

BEAM app game

and had a look at the latest Cosmopolitan – no judging please!

BEAM app selection magazines cosmopolitan

BEAM is NOT exclusive to First class. It also works when you connect your device to the wi-fi in Standard Class.

I was quite impressed by the selection of movies/TV shows, games and magazines and it was a pleasant way to pass the time on the way back to London.

You can find out more about BEAM on this page of the Virgin website.

If you need a movie recommendation, I suggest watching Ex Machina – in my opinion one of the best films of 2015!


HFP Virgin Atlantic Rewards credit card

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (November 2020)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Points

As well as the two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (see here, one has a bonus of 15,000 Points), you can also earn from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.

(Want to earn more Virgin Points?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

Comments (34)

  • Steve says:

    I tried to download the app to my lap top as the article said that had worked but can’t get google play to add my lap top to my devices. It still has my Blackberry as the only device. I’m betting the app won’t work on that.

    • Alan says:

      Google Play is for Android devices. It might be possible to get it working on a Chromebook but it won’t work on a laptop unless they release a version of the app for use there.

      • David says:

        Or unless you have an Android VM running perhaps.

        • Alan says:

          Well indeed, but I suspected the person saying it wouldn’t install on their laptop from the Play Store wasn’t doing that 😉 😀

  • MAN Pax says:

    Double Beam failure for me. First time I had appalling lipsynch issues on the videos. Second time the servers crashed 15 minutes into the trip. Back to the Kindle!

    I’m assuming the “free” service is soak testing reading for a payable service, free in 1st Class? Can’t see myself paying.

  • Lewis Watson says:

    Wonder if this is the way airlines will go. Must be cheaper than all those screens on the back of seats

    • Alan says:

      I believe Air Canada (amongst others) have already starting implementing this. More in this Engadget article from a couple of years ago – https://www.engadget.com/2014/08/05/future-of-ife/

    • David says:

      In the UK, Monarch already have this – on a limited number of their aircraft.
      Need to have download the Monarch player app before the flight. But theirs is limited free content, lots of paid.

      Air Canada – as Alan mentioned above – also do. Plus others.