APEX 2013: Virgin Atlantic connectivity being well received

Passengers on selected Virgin Atlantic flights between the UK and the US/Caribbean are making great use of the Inmarsat SwiftBroadband connectivity fitted to three of the airline's Airbus A330 aircraft.

The aircraft have been equipped with ARINC's Cabin Connect system in a 12-month trial. The trial has now been running for four months on routes between London's Heathrow/Gatwick and New York, Washington DC, Boston and the Barbados.

Alan Penlington, Virgin Atlantic's Customer Experience Manager, said: "We've been pleased with the response from passengers, with the system working well technically, usage numbers strong and increasing and great ad-hoc feedback being received."

The system uses the aircraft's existing Cobham HGA 7001 satellite antenna, Honeywell MCS7200 terminal and single-channel Inmarsat SwiftBroadband connection. Cabin Connect provides a wireless hotspot in the sky, with four access points per aircraft. Passengers are able to connect via Wi-Fi with their own personal devices, including smartphones, tablets and laptops.

Lee Costin (pictured), ARINC's Director, Satellite Solutions, said: "The majority of passengers are using smart devices, like tablets, but a large percentage are using laptops."

Costin added that Virgin Atlantic is experimenting with different pricing plans during the trial, including cost-per-flight and cost-per-hour, to see what works best. After the trial the airline will consider adding internet connectivity to more of its A330s and possibly its other long-haul aircraft.

Steve Nichols, Inflight / Inflight-Online.com
Anaheim, CA, USA

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