Virgin Australia has partnered with inflight connectivity provider Gogo and Optus to provide customers with inflight wireless Internet access on its Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
During a three-month testing period, guest flying on the Wi-Fi enabled aircraft will be able to use the service free of charge during the testing period and can also access streaming services Netflix, Stan and Pandora on their devices while in the air.
The move to offer inflight wireless internet access is a key battleground for airlines. Qantas is currently trialling public access to Wi-Fi on one of its Boeing 737 aircraft using NBN’s Sky Muster satellites. Earlier this month the national carrier said it “continues to fine-tune the system”.
Virgin Australia Airlines group executive, John Thomas, said the airline is looking forward to receiving guest feedback about its inflight connectivity over the next three months. The airline plans to finalise its business model after considering customer feedback and the results of the testing period.
“We are thrilled to commence customer testing of our inflight wi-fi today. We want to ensure that guests can stay reliably connected in the air while also enjoying the fantastic entertainment and customer service for which Virgin Australia is well known,” Thomas said in a statement.
Guests who travel on the Wi-Fi-enabled aircraft during the customer testing period will be notified that Wi-Fi is available on their flight and will be provided with instructions on access.
In terms of inflight access, Gogo’s 2Ku technology uses a streamlined dual-antenna (one for forward link, one for return link) to deliver simultaneous transmissions. Gogo already provides inflight connectivity for a number of airlines including Virgin Australia’s alliance partner Delta Air Lines, which provides inflight Wi-Fi on services between Australia and the United States.
Virgin Australia operates a fleet of around 130 aircraft that includes Airbus A330, Boeing 777, Boeing 737, Embraer 190, ATR-72 turboprop and Fokker 100 aircraft.