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Virgin Atlantic Aircraft Become “Fully WiFi Connected” Across Entire Fleet

Thursday, September 7th, 2017 (12:38 pm) - Score 2,875

Airline Virgin Atlantic, which alongside Delta Air Lines runs up to 39 flights per day across the transatlantic route, claims to have become the “first airline in Europe to offer WiFi across its entire fleet,” which is based on a combination of technology from Panasonic and Gogo.

The airline claims that pricing for the service will start at £2.99 per month, although this only gets you a very basic “Messaging Pass” (i.e. you can only use it for messaging services like WhatsApp and it doesn’t even support sending photos or videos). Travellers who want more can opt for the £4.99 WiFi light or £14.99 WiFi max options, although the flexibility of these will depend on the aircraft (see below).

Aircraft Pass Price What you get
787 WiFi light £4.99 40MB data
WiFi max £14.99 150MB data
A330, A340, 747 Messaging Pass £2.99 Messaging access throughout flight
WiFi light £4.99 One hour internet access
WiFi max £14.99 Full flight internet access

In the past I’ve often had cause to use in-flight WiFi while travelling long distances, which is akin to being forced back onto the equivalent of an old 14Kbps dialup modem (i.e. you click to load a website and then wait several minutes for something to happen or, more likely, timeout). This is obviously not good enough for keeping a site like ISPreview.co.uk updated while in the air or looking at cat videos, the latter of which is essential.

However a number of airlines, such as British Airways and now Virgin Atlantic, are finally upgrading their on-board connectivity (sadly I’ve yet to try a plane with this kit). Many of those tend to adopt GoGo’s 2Ku technology, which uses a mix of ground and space (satellite – Ku-band) stations to deliver on-board Internet access with speeds of up to 70-100Mbps (shared) over a local WiFi wireless network.

In this case we note that the technology split is a bit different. Customers travelling on the 787 will use WiFi from Panasonic, while the A330s, 747s, A340-600s are powered by Gogo technology.

Mark Anderson, Executive VP of Customer at Virgin Atlantic, said:

“From today customers flying around the world with Virgin Atlantic can work and play throughout their flight as we become the first airline in Europe to offer a fully WiFi enabled fleet.”

Innovation has always been in our blood and we’ve worked closely with WiFi providers to develop the fastest, most reliable connection across the Atlantic, and are the first carrier to offer WiFi between the UK and the Caribbean, China and Africa.”

Apparently 42% of customers opt for the WiFi max package, which lasts the entire flight. The work to add faster WiFi has actually been going on for the past few years and forms part of a £300m investment being made by Virgin Atlantic to upgrade its fleet with new services.

Leave a Comment
7 Responses
  1. Avatar steve

    Love this press release, missing the slightly important facts that the A330, A340 and 747 have no power sockets in economy, and sometimes only that crappy DC power in J.

    • Must say I’ve never had cause to use the power sockets, even on 14+ hour flights to the far east (half of which is spent sleeping / eating or at least “trying” to sleep). Generally the battery in both my laptop and phone can usually last a good 5-6 hours of constant use and still leave me with some juice to spare at the end.

    • Avatar PaulM

      Buy yourself a new device if it can not do several hours of usage or a Power Bank, a typical modern mobile device like a phone as Mark mentions will give around 5 hours screen on time, some will do much more, old stuff will not.

      You can carry 2 power banks or spare batteries on the plane as long as they do not exceed 100Wh (in device already) to 160Wh (battery carried for personal use as spare). Thats around a max (very roughly) of 9000-10000 Mah but check the voltage also 2 of those will power a mobile phone along with the battery in it for well over a day even with most hardcore use.

      Buy lithium-ion rather than lithium metal, some lithium metal batteries are measured by weight rather than power and the max is something silly like 2 or 3 gramms. Wet type batteries are not allowed before some bright spark (pun intended) suggests lugging something like a lead acid car battery along on your travels.

  2. Avatar Mike

    So avoid the 787 like the plague…

  3. Avatar Hate Virgin

    Thank god its not powered by VirginMedia broadband – poor sods would be up there all day trying to download a single page!

    Avoid anything Virgin like the Plague!

    • Avatar Imaginary John

      “Avoid anything Virgin like the Plague!”

      So that is why we should stay away from you and your posts.

  4. Avatar hmmm

    Switch off 24/7 connectivity Madness

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