When passengers boarded Virgin Atlantic’s new Airbus A330neo aircraft for its inaugural VIP flight, they were treated to social spaces, business class privacy doors, and an optional upgrade to a private suite — and both paid and free internet access provided by Viasat.
Virgin Atlantic flew its first Airbus A330neo aircraft from London to Tampa Bay Nov. 2. Guests onboard the exclusive flight included a contingent of aviation media.
“Virgin Atlantic uses Viasat Wi-Fi on these new A330neo’s, and my God — it’s fast.”
Reporters reviewed everything from seat comfort and color choices to food quality and Wi-Fi.
“Virgin Atlantic uses Viasat Wi-Fi on these new A330neo’s, and my God — it’s fast,” wrote Gilbert Ott of God Save the Points. “I felt incredibly jaded about Wi-Fi claims coming into this flight but was shocked to be able to stream and work efficiently throughout.
“This is the first time in my life where Wi-Fi wasn’t noticeably slower or more difficult to use than on the ground.”
From the fleet’s fuel efficiency and design to its in-flight communications, Virgin Atlantic describes its latest planes as state-of-the-art, and that includes Viasat’s in-flight connectivity (IFC) system. A press release on Virgin Atlantic’s website describes Viasat’s in-flight connectivity as “the airline’s fastest ever Wi-Fi.”
“Life doesn’t stop after take-off,” said Josh Payne, Virgin Atlantic’s inflight entertainment and connectivity development manager. “As the products airlines are able to offer their passengers evolve, having a fast and reliable connectivity system is key to our customer satisfaction.
“Viasat provides us with a reliable, high-speed connection that is second to none.”
Wi-Fi offerings for all
While any passenger who wishes to purchase a Wi-Fi session can do so while flying on Virgin Atlantic’s A330neo planes, Virgin Atlantic partnered with Viasat to also offer passengers certain free, ad-supported, time-based Wi-Fi sessions. They allow passengers to use the internet the way they would at home — scrolling social media, shopping, connecting to productivity tools, or streaming entertainment. In addition, passengers have other opportunities to engage with news and premium content, and use messenger tools to communicate while in flight — all free of charge.
“We’re proud to be working with Virgin Atlantic on this partnership,” said Ultan O’Brien, Viasat’s head of global inflight entertainment. “Our goal is to enhance the overall experience for passengers on Virgin Atlantic. So we’re working with third-party sponsors to get passengers more ad-supported free internet services on board.”
Thus, Virgin Atlantic and Viasat are able to provide passengers with a full gamut of IFC options.
“We understand that not everyone wants or needs a full flight Wi-Fi session, and with our system provisioned by Viasat, we are able to ensure everyone’s needs are catered to,” Payne said.
Viasat already provides Wi-Fi on 28 airlines, some of which offer it as a paid service, others at no cost, and others using a combination of the two.
Each of Virgin Atlantic’s Airbus A330neo fleet, which will include 16 planes in all, will have the Viasat IFC system factory installed. The system can easily be updated as Viasat’s network expands and continues to improve.
“With the opportunity to line fit Viasat’s high-speed connectivity to our new fleet, we were able to select a service that delivers on our customers’ needs and will continue to improve in the coming years,” Payne said.
The Airbus A330neo planes will fly from London’s Heathrow Airport to Boston, Tampa, New York and Miami, among other destinations.
Virgin Atlantic, founded by Sir Richard Branson in 1984, was voted Britain’s only Global Five Star Airline by APEX in the 2022 Official Airline Ratings — for the sixth year in a row. Headquartered in London, it flies to 29 destinations across four continents.