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Virgin Australia to start inflight wifi in October

By David Flynn     Filed under: inflight entertainment, tablets, inflight wifi, Virgin Australia, inflight streaming, Samsung Galaxy Tab, BoardConnect

Virgin Australia will begin testing inflight wifi streaming in October, beaming movies, TV shows and music to Samsung tablets and eventually to passenger's own tablets, laptops and smartphones.

"We will be testing our first aircraft in October, with fit-out to the rest of the fleet very quickly after that, and wifi streaming will be available on all domestic aircraft within a very short time after that" says Virgin CEO John Borghetti.

Virgin will use Lufthansa Systems' BoardConnect technology, which was previously trialled by Qantas in its initial Q Streaming tests, although Qantas subsequently chose Panasonic's eXW system for its wider rollout.

Want more on the Q Streaming? We've got a full video and review of the system plus a deeper dive into the technology itself.

The full roster of BYO devices is expected to include iPads, iPhones, Android tablets and smartphones, all of which will use a free app to play the content, along with Windows and Mac notebooks.

The tablets will be offered free for business class travellers "and, on flights over three hours, flexi fare guests, subject to availability", although the spokesperson was unable to advise if economy passengers would need to pay a rental free.

Tablets for A330s as well as Boeing 737s

Speaking with Australian Business Traveller earlier this year, Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti said he expected the wifi roll-out to happen "very quickly", as the process for installing Lufthansa BoardConnect in each aircraft  isn't especially time-consuming.

"To fit an aircraft, you can do it overnight and it only takes two to three nights" Borghetti explained. "So when the aircraft's parked at night you do the work, and within two or three nights you've done an aeroplane. So effectively you can move very quickly and do the whole fleet."

"And when I say the whole fleet," Borghetti emphasises, "I don't just mean the 737-800s, I mean the whole fleet, and I include the A330s on that, very quickly, within 12 to 18 months."

Borghetti is also bullish on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 versus Apple's iPad 2, telling Australian Business Traveller that "the Samsung tablet is being recognised as a better product than Apple."

"The [Android-based] system is a plus," he adds, along with the larger 10.1 inch display. "It's (also) much thinner... overall it's a better product."

Get the latest updates for business traveller and frequent flyers: follow @AusBT on Twitter.


About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 28/8/12 by Michael

Borghetti is kidding himself if he thinks the Samsung Galaxy Tab is a better product than the iPad. My guess is that Qantas has a tie up with Apple and VA couldn't access the iPad. In Australia specifically, how many tablets do you see that are not an iPad? 

1 on 28/8/12 by lazybones1987

To be honest, it doesn't matter what tablet they use as they deploy a custom skin/app which prevents the user from accessing the true OS underneath.

2 on 3/9/12 by tronixstuff

Have used the Galaxy Tab twice now. Works fine, screen is great, it's responsive and doesn't crash. For IFE the type of tablet doesn't matter - as long as it works and the battery lasts. The tablets don't compare when modified for IFE use as the user experience is set by the individual IFE application. 

2 on 28/8/12 by qUantas

 ......"We will be testing our first aircraft in October, with fit-out to the rest of the fleet very quickly after that,..... Does anyone know what quickly means..November??

1 on 3/9/12 by tronixstuff

Six months is quickly in airline terms. 

3 on 31/8/12 by Miss Traveller

riding on QF's coat tails again!

4 on 6/11/12 by tomcow767

any more news about this? Haven't heard much on the trial or roll out


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