Virgin America has launched a partnership with Google to offer free in-flight WiFi to all of its passengers during the 2009 festive season.
From November 10 to January 15, passengers on all Virgin America flights will be able to check email, gift shop online, stay in touch with family and friends via social media, or go elsewhere on the Web for free. In May, Virgin America became the first airline to offer Gogo Inflight Internet service on every flight.
“Since the launch of WiFi on all of our planes, we’ve seen an overwhelmingly positive response from travelers,” says Porter Gale, vice president of marketing at Virgin America. “We’ve found that both business and leisure travelers are using the service at a growing rate, and many consider the availability of in-flight WiFi one of the key factors in their booking decision.”
Virgin America says it was the first airline to offer both standard power outlets near every seat and fleet-wide Gogo Inflight Internet service. The airline estimates that currently 12 per cent to 15 per cent of its passengers are using the Gogo service. On some of the airline’s long-haul routes (like Boston-San Francisco), the carrier is reporting that up to 25 per cent of guests on a given flight are logging in.
A recent survey of Virgin America frequent fliers showed that guests are using WiFi in a variety of ways and consider the ability to stay connected a key in-flight amenity. Results from the survey, which was based on responses from passengers who travelled on Virgin America in the third quarter of 2009. include te following findings:
● More than half of respondents said that the availability of WiFi would influence their choice of airline;
● The availability of in-flight power outlets is also a factor for many in choosing to fly with Virgin America;
● 72 per cent agreed that VOIP should continue to be blocked to keep the cabin environment quiet;
● 53 per cent of respondents carry a laptop on board. Of those that connected to Gogo, 88 per cent used a laptop; and
● Email is the most popular activity while using in-flight WiFi, followed by working remotely and social media.
Although passengers traveling on any of Virgin America’s more than 100 daily flights from November 10 to January 15 will enjoy free web access via their laptops or PDAs, the airline normally provides its Gogo service for $12.95 for flights of over three hours; $9.95 for flights between 1.5 hours and three hours; $5.95 for short-haul flights of less than 1.5 hours and handheld/PDA pricing of $7.95 for flights over 1.5 hours.