Topic of the Week: Virgin America and Fast WiFi

Virgin America

Virgin America was an early adopter of WiFi but in recent times, other airlines have installed faster options on their fleets. Now Virgin America says it will install faster WiFi on its new deliveries using the the same bandwidth provider as JetBlue. Does this matter to you? Or is it weird that some airplanes will have one system while others will have another?

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14 comments on “Topic of the Week: Virgin America and Fast WiFi

  1. I think it would be better to upgrade the entire fleet in the most timely manner possible. It’s not like VX has hundreds of aircraft. One of my biggest pet peeves is the varying on board amenities across the DL domestic fleet. I fly them enough to know what each aircraft has what but that leisure traveler that flies to Florida on a 737-900 with a very nice IFE, power, etc. and returns on a A320 w/nothing is going to be disappointed. I get there are business reasons, age of aircraft, etc., but the average customer doesn’t care.

    One of the biggest rules in any service industry is across the board consistency. Retailers and restaurateurs excel at this while airlines struggle. Excusing the obvious business arguments I’d say it’s not going to be good to have a mixed fleet of varying wi-fi quality. While the customer should expect the standard slow connection and find the faster connection an added perk the reality is the next flight that customer has with the slow connection is going to sour their perception of the Virgin America product/experience.

    1. At least DL is adding power to the A319 and A320 as they redo the interiors and adding power to the new planes that are coming online (717 and 739).

      VX and B6 do not have the fleet complexity of AA, DL, and UA.

  2. i’d love to see delta do something about it’s horrific wifi speeds. if you are going to wallpaper airports with ads stating that you can work on the plane, you should actually be able to work on the plane

  3. Don’t care. Since I pay for my own travel and generakly wouldn’t get reimbursed for wifi charges, I use my in -the-air time to read books or watch movies or enjoy the views from my window seat.

    Shocking, I know.

    1. With you, Oliver. I use my onboard time to read or just close my eyes and (try to) relax. The last thing I want on an aircraft is to be connected or, for that matter, to use any electronic device. I get plenty of time on electronics on the ground.

    2. Totally agreed. Could I work from a coach seat with 30″ of pitch if my job depended on it? Yes, and I have done it in the past, but not well, given my ~40″ waist. Even though my company pays for WiFi, I try to use business travel to catch up on sleep.

  4. I agree with A.

    Virgin offers a consistently good product to a very techy crowd. It would be good for their brand to offer fast wifi on all flights. They have customers that will notice the difference.

    As for how important wifi is to me on flights, I’m Elevate gold and they could get rid of every other perk in exchange for free wifi and I’d be happy. How else am I going to download books onto my kindle?

  5. I agree with Oliver. I, too, try to get a window seat and watch the country unroll below. For cloudy days, I bring reading material. WiFi is fine on the ground including the airports while waiting for departure, but not needed in the air. Of course, I am not in a time dependent business like CF — and most people aren’t.

  6. They don’t really have a choice, since a bunch of these new planes are doing the Hawaii route. I don’t think Gogo’s satellite tech is ready yet, right?

    I mean, I guess they could do what Alaska has done, which is no WiFi on this specific route, but Virgin prides itself on having WiFi on all fleets.

  7. They upgraded the bandwidth to be at par with JetBlue. But JetBlue has the advantage of it being free, vs Virgin america has their WiFi a bit overpriced, and JetBlue has the ka-band fleet wide, it at least in there process of that as they continually install it.

  8. Lets be clear, I keep hearing people talk about how slow Delta or Virgin’s WiFi. With the exception of Southwest (Row44), and JetBlue (ViaSat) and soon a portion of Virgin (ViaSat), everyone is using GoGo. Individual airlines don’t have control over pricing or speeds, they simply take a cut of the profit generated from people using wifi on their airplanes. Additionally, GoGo realizing their network was taxed, and that it was running too slowly for people, decided they needed to do something. Their options were to either add more capacity which would have been a fairly substantial capital expenditure, or they could raise prices to reduce the demand. They opted to raise prices. So what you’ll see is that during peak times so price of GoGo is reported to be upwards of $30 for a trip. Regular price has gone up to $16 I think.

    That out of the way, I praise any company that creates additional competition for GoGo. We see what happens when one has a near monopoly on the market. Slow and expensive speeds. Hopefully this increase in competition will force all providers to be more on top of their game and if they are, we the flyer win.

    1. That’s not entirely true… United Wi-fi isn’t Gogo either with the exception of the few p.s. routes. I believe the majority of the fleet is Panasonic Ku band and ViaSat Ka band (the later of which hasn’t really been advertised as being different than the Ku band to avoid confusion). Ultimately though, a very different product than what Delta has on its fleet.

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