Virgin America Teams Up With Google To Offer Free In-Flight WiFi for the Holidays

Airline and Web Technology Company Give Holiday Travelers the Gift of Connection with Free Gogo Inflight Internet

San Francisco – October 19, 2009 – Virgin America, the airline that is reinventing domestic travel, today announced an exclusive partnership with Google to offer free in-flight WiFi to all of its guests during the holidays. The two California-based companies known for innovation, entrepreneurialism and for connecting people in new ways, have again joined forces to give Virgin America fliers the gift of in-flight connection during the holiday travel season. From Nov. 10, 2009-Jan. 15, 2010, guests on all Virgin America flights will be able to check email, gift shop online, stay in touch with family and friends via social media, or just go wherever the web takes them - all for free. In May, Virgin America became the first airline to offer Gogo® Inflight Internet service on every flight.

“Since the launch of WiFi on all of our planes, we’ve seen an overwhelmingly positive response from travelers,” said Porter Gale, Vice President of Marketing at Virgin America. “We’ve found that both business and leisure travelers are using the service at a growing rate, and many consider the availability of in-flight WiFi one of the key factors in their booking decision.  We’re thrilled to team up with Google to deliver this special holiday gift to our loyal guests.  We also hope it persuades more new users to try out the service –as once people try Gogo, they rarely go back.” 

Virgin America is the first airline to offer both standard power outlets near every seat and fleet-wide Gogo Inflight Internet service.   The airline estimates that currently 12-15 percent of its guests are using the Gogo service.  On some of the airline’s long-haul routes (like BOS-SFO), the carrier is reporting that up to 20-25 percent of guests on a given flight are logging in. 

"As millions of people pass through airports this holiday season in order to celebrate with their families, we wanted to give our users a gift – one that makes their travel easier and more convenient," said Marissa Mayer, Vice President of Search Products and User Experience at Google. "The fundamental power of the Internet is in connecting people, and we hope that having a free WiFi connection while enroute will make home and family seem that much closer."

A recent survey of Virgin America frequent fliers showed that guests are using WiFi in a variety of ways and consider the ability to stay connected a key in-flight amenity.   Top-line results from the survey* include:

  • More than half of respondents said that the availability of WiFi would influence their choice of airline.
  • The availability of in-flight power outlets is also a factor for many in choosing to fly with Virgin America.
  • 72% agreed that VOIP should continue to be blocked to keep the cabin environment quiet.
  • 53% of respondents carry a laptop on board.  Of those that connected to Gogo, 88% used a laptop.
  • Email is the most popular activity while using in-flight WiFi, followed by working remotely and social media.

Although guests traveling on any of Virgin America’s over 100 daily flights from Nov. 10, 2009 - Jan. 15, 2010, will enjoy free web access via their laptops or PDAs, the Gogo service is normally available for $12.95 for flights of over three hours; $9.95 for flights between 1.5 and three hours; $5.95 for short haul flights of less than 1.5 hours and handheld/PDA pricing of $7.95 for flights over 1.5 hours.

Since launching in August 2007, Virgin America has captured a list of travel industry best-in-class awards, including "Best Domestic Airline” in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2008 and 2009 Readers’ Choice Awards and Travel + Leisure’s 2008 and 2009 World’s Best Awards.  Virgin America offers travelers unrivalled amenities, low fares and high-tech features. Virgin America’s mood-lit, custom-designed new cabins feature more comfortable, ergonomically correct leather seats and Red ™ – the most advanced entertainment system in the U.S. skies.  Red is a touch-screen seatback entertainment platform that offers 25 films, live TV, interactive Google Maps, music videos, video games, a 3000 MP3 library and more.   

In November 2008, Virgin America launched Gogo Inflight Internet on its first flight with a first ever "air-to-ground" video stream to YouTube Live – YouTube's first official real-world user event.   In May of 2009, the airline completed the roll-out of its WiFi service across its fleet and celebrated the milestone with a live streamed chat between Oprah Winfrey in her studio audience and a Virgin America plane at 35,000 feet over the California coast.  In June 2009, the airline also teamed up with Google for the first-ever online and “in the clouds” web-based scavenger hunt, using in-flight WiFi.

For more on the free holiday WiFi initiative, please visit:  www.freeholidaywifi.com

Virgin America flies to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego, Boston, Orange County and as of Nov. 18, 2009 – Fort Lauderdale. The airline currently offers daily flights from: SFO to LAX, SFO to JFK, SFO to SAN, SFO to IAD, SFO to LAS, LAX to JFK, LAX to IAD, SFO to SEA, SEA to LAX, JFK to LAS, BOS to LAX, BOS to SFO, SFO to SNA and as of Nov. 18, 2009 – LAX to FLL and SFO to FLL.

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*Survey results based on responses from guests who travelled on Virgin America in Q3 2009.

Media Contact:  Abby Lunardini (650) 533-7576/abby.lunardini@virginamerica.com

EDITORS NOTE: Virgin America is a U.S. controlled and operated airline. Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is a minority share investor in Virgin America.

About Virgin America: Headquartered in California and launched in August 2007, Virgin America is one of the fastest growing start-up U.S. airlines of all time and currently employs over 1500 people.  Virgin America offers guests attractive fares and a host of innovative features aimed at reinventing air travel.  The airline’s base of operations is San Francisco International Airport’s modern International Terminal.  The airline’s new aircraft offer interactive in-flight entertainment systems and power outlets near every seat for electronic gear.  Virgin America offers in-flight internet service on every flight and hosts the largest in-flight entertainment library in the U.S. skies via its touch-screen Red™ seatback system.  In just over two years flying, the airline was named "Best Domestic Airline” in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2008 and 2009 Readers’ Choice Awards and Travel + Leisure’s 2008 and 2009 World’s Best Awards.  For more:  www.virginamerica.com

 

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