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Virgin America puts the ?go? into Gogo
Virgin America will launch its passenger broadband service with typical pizzazz tomorrow. Provided through Aircell’s Gogo terrestrial system, the service will debut by supporting the first ever air-to-ground video stream for the YouTube Live programme as the airline’s first equipped Airbus A320 circles above San Francisco on an elaborately orchestrated “beta” shakedown flight.
During the flight a segment of the YouTube Live show will be streamed to an online audience on the ground. After tomorrow’s hoopla dies down, the airline will get on with implementing Gogo on one aircraft a week until the entire Airbus A320-family fleet has been equipped by the second quarter of next year. Pricing will be Aircell’s standard $10 on flights of up to three hours, $12.95 on longer ones.
Initially the service will be available only to passengers carrying their own wireless-capable laptops and other devices. Next year work will begin to integrate it with the airline’s celebrated Red IFE system so that passengers lacking personal devices can also access email and the Internet.
Virgin America will be the second Gogo airline, following launch operator American Airlines. American is currently trialling the service on domestic Boeing 767s and plans to implement it in the domestic fleet if passenger reaction is satisfactory. Air Canada and Delta have also committed to offering the service.
For tomorrow’s flight the aircraft will feature a WiFi lounge outfitted with ultra-portable laptops from Hewlett Packard for use by invited journalists and Z-list publicity bait. The somewhat less feverish full service will be available to ordinary travellers from Monday.
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