Virgin Australia launches international in-flight Wi-Fi

Virgin Australia is to officially launch international in-flight Wi-Fi after a successful testing phase, with passengers travelling between Australia and Los Angeles now able to remain connected to family and friends, TV shows or the news for the duration of their flight.

Virgin Australia said that by making this Wi-Fi service officially live, it becomes the only Australian airline to offer international Wi-Fi.

The airline suggests the introduction of in-flight connectivity will help Australians facing ‘net-lag’ – the inability to stay connected in-flight, leading to feelings of stress and the ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO), after the results of recent passenger research were published.

According to the new research, commissioned by Virgin Australia, 70% of Aussies confessed to having experienced ‘net-lag’ during a flight and feeling frustrated because they couldn’t access the internet. More than 65% of passengers admitted to feeling overwhelmed catching up on emails, messages and other unread notifications once they landed.

Dr Andrew Campbell, a Cyberpsychologist at The University of Sydney, said: “We know that the inability to keep up-to-date with the online world and stay in touch with friends is a real fear that’s only grown since the introduction of smartphones. Like it or not, staying connected has become an essential part of life for most of us and certainly seems to be where we’re headed as a society.”

Aussies indicated that the ways they would use in-flight Wi-Fi if it were available on international flights would include, using social media to check Instagram, Facebook or Twitter (23.8%), stream movies or TV shows (21.3%) and for personal email and web browsing (16.5%).

Passengers also indicated they would use it to read the news (15.6%), instant message family and friends (14.6%) and for their business/work email and web browsing (8.3%).

The research also found 71.3% of people felt their time on a long-haul flight would be more productive with Wi-Fi, and more than three quarters would perceive their flight to be more enjoyable if they could stay connected.

Group executive, Virgin Australia Airlines, Rob Sharp said: “Most of us use our phones on a daily if not hourly basis, meaning it can be incredibly disruptive to have extended periods of time when you can’t connect with friends, family, colleagues, or what’s going on in the world. We’re proud to be the leader in providing Australians with greater in-flight connectivity on international flights.”

Virgin Australia also said that the carrier and Delta Air Lines have also become the only Trans-Pacific alliance to consistently offer in-flight Wi-Fi across all alliance aircraft, allowing guests to stay connected when travelling with either airline.

In-flight Wi-Fi is now available on all five Virgin Australia Boeing 777 aircraft and on 10 Virgin Australia Boeing 737 aircraft with 75% of the fleet to be complete by the end of the year. In-flight Wi-Fi will be fitted on Virgin Australia’s A330-200 aircraft in early 2019.

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