Virgin Atlantic to offer in-flight mobile access

The airline will become the first from the UK to offer text, calling and web browsing capabilities on its flights

Virgin Atlantic is set to become the first British airline to offer in-flight mobile and web capabilities.

A report by The Telegraph said the service will be available to passengers on the company’s new fleet of Airbus A330s flying between London and New York. However, the technology will also be added to 17 other planes across 10 routes by the end of 2012.

The company responsible for the system is called AeroMobile, owned by electronics giant Panasonic. Although a number of other overseas airlines offer in-flight Wi-Fi or mobile access, only nine provide this technology to surf the web, make calls and send or receive text messages.

Passengers can expect the first connections to be slow, using only GPRS technology to connect. However, AeroMobile has said it is working on upgrades already to increase the bandwidth.  

BA also provides texts and web access on its commuter flight between London City Airport and New York JFK, but the airline still doesn’t allow phone calls to be made.

Steve Griffiths, COO at Virgin Atlantic, told The Telegraph the new installations were part of a £100m upgrade to the company’s Upper Class cabins, adding his team were “actively looking at what customers want, rather than simply installing technology.”

We contacted Virgin Atlantic to get more information on the roll-out but it had not returned our request at the time of publication.

The announcement follows the confirmation by Lufthansa last week that it was partnering with Boingo to provide in-flight Wi-Fi on its intercontinental flights.

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