As Virgin Atlantic is renowned for being a popular businessperson’s airline, the firm have stuck a deal with Panasonic’s AeroMobile which will allow passengers to use their mobiles while they are soaring through the air. The new Airbus A330 aircraft are being fitted with the technology to allow mobile signals to work so high up in the air. At the moment, there main aim is for London –New York – London flights as most businesspeople have been crying out for mobile usage on that route, but 10 more routes will be added by the end of the year across 17 planes.
Obviously, Richard Branson being Richard Branson is monetising the service and there will be a charge that is in-line with current roaming charges. At the moment, only British Airways offers an in-flight service for texting but no mobile calls, so Virgin will be the first airline in the UK to offer the technology. As it’s not just calls, it would be Internet usage and browsing that people are most interested in they can email, surf the Internet and do their normal daily activities, except they are 60,000ft up in the air. As we cannot go a few hours without using our smartphones and the 8-10 hour flight to New York can feel like a lifetime the new service couldn’t have come at a better time.
The service means that the airline can control the passengers’ browsing time as it will be switched off some 250 miles from the airport and will not work on take-off and landing. There will only be limited bandwidth so you won’t be able to stream a 2GB movie, for instance, but the in-flight entertainment is more than enough. AeroMobile are looking at making it run at higher speeds and allowing more bandwidth but it will depend on how sought-after the service is.
At the moment, Qantas, Lufthansa and Emirates feature AeroMobile but Virgin Atlantic is the first for UK airlines. The US airlines also have Wi-Fi available, with limited bandwidth, which has been a low success for those commuting by plane for business deals and personal use, as it is very pricey and that’s where Virgin can make a big difference by slicing the costs although the service might be reduced speeds to make it affordable for passengers.
It’s been reported that adding the Wi-Fi service in their aircraft will cost Virgin £100 million and it will be completely rolled out by 2014. There will be touchscreen in-flight entertainment, as well as USB ports for charging smartphones such as a Sony Xperia S or an HTC One V added to the A330 Airbus planes too.
So, if you are travelling by Virgin Atlantic soon from London to New York, you can still use your phone and call your friends while you’re flying through the air. You can also access the Internet and keep up to date on everything that you need to. For businesspeople, this means that there is no lack of communication between clients and customers which means aeroplanes no longer have their flaws for business travel.