Browsing Tag: IFE

Virgin America's RED now packs a stronger punch!

Virgin America's RED now packs a stronger punch!

One of the problems of flying Virgin America for the first time is having to compare all other domestic in-flight entertainment systems to Virgin’s RED. Last week Virgin showed off a few nifty upgrades to their already powerful system. Unfortunately I was not able to attend, but I was able to send a correspondent, Rita Harvey, to cover the event in San Fransisco. Here are her thoughts in her own words:

David asked me to fly to San Francisco (SFO) to represent him and Airline Reporter as Virgin America (VA) unveiled their new in-flight features. Having never flown VA before, I jumped at the chance.  It was definitely a unique flying experience; the cool lighting as you walk on board, entertaining safety video and having more in-flight distractions than I knew what to do with at my fingertips.

After arriving at the gate in San Fransisco where their plane and employees were waiting to show off the new features, I got to board and was greeted with a glass of champagne. At this point, I knew I was in for a treat. I was escorted into the first class area and was given a one on one demo of what they’re adding [argh I haven’t even been able to sit in VA first class yet -David].

One huge thing that will be new is having Sky Mall built into their entertainment system.  The Red Store, as they are calling it, has over 200 products to choose from. As it states on the main screen, “ranging from little necessities to the coolest must haves”. I was pretty shocked to see a diamond encrusted iPhone for sale, only $38,000.

The next new feature that they have involves their food and beverage selection. There are going to be cocktails available that have been created specifically for their airline. I got to have one of their creations which was called a “Cocktail With Altitude” (ok, it might just be a normal drink with a fancy name, but that’s alright).  Something else that they’re doing is offering food pairings. When the food ordering screen comes up, you’ll have the option to check out a whole slew of food, side, and drink combinations that complement each other. An example of this is their tapas platter, chocolate bar and either a non-alcoholic drink or an alcoholic one.  Along with all of this, there will now be the option to open a tab. You can either choose to just buy that one thing or swipe your card once and leave the option to keep your tab open. Both of these will most likely entice passengers to part with their money more quickly.

The final upgrade is with their Google Maps. They’re now more accurate and now you can view the terrain. Having a map to see where your plane is  and what landscape you are approaching is pretty cool.

Not only was it fun to get to experience this little jaunt down to SFO to check out Virgin’s entertainment upgrades but it was a pleasant first flight on Virgin for me, to and from the airport. I’m definitely looking forward to flying them again since they are probably one of the most enjoyable airlines to fly with.

Additional Goodies:
* More photos of the event and flight from SEA to SFO
* Video tour from VA of the new RED features

Pretty clever WiFi logo with the dots for the i's being the engines!

Pretty clever WiFi logo with the dots for the i's being the engines! Logo from Alaska Airlines.

Blogging about airlines adding WiFi to their fleet will never get old for me.

If you remember Alaska caused a bit of a stir after announcing they would be going with Gogo Inglight Internet service instead of Row44, which they were testing. One of the benefits of Gogo is it can be quickly installed onto an aircraft. Alaska already has six planes internet enabled and hopes to have all Boeing 737-800’s and 900’s equipped with WiFi by the end of the Summer. Their entire fleet should be setup by the end of the year. Like other airlines, Alaska will have a WiFi logo by the main cabin door and information in the seat back pocket next to you.

In a partnership with Alaska Airline’s Visa credit card, they are offering the WiFi for free until July 31, 2010. After July 31st northbound flights from Portland and Seattle to Alaska will remain free, until GoGo Inflight is able to improve on cell reception in Alaska. After the free period, prices on other flights will range from $5 to $13 depending on the time and device you want to use.

To find out where WiFi can be accessed, more information and pricing structure, check out Alaska’s Wi-Fi page.

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Digital image of the Boeing 747-8 from Boeing's NewPlane.com

Digital image of the Boeing 747-8 from Boeing's NewPlane.com

The Boeing 747-8 is just a few weeks away from taking off for the first time. Before the plane goes into service, the FAA wants to make certain the plane’s computer systems cannot be hacked. Even though this sounds like the makings of a summer blockbuster movie, the FAA and Boeing want to make sure it can’t become a reality.

The FAA states the Boeing 747-7, “will have novel or unusual design features associated with the architecture and connectivity capabilities of the airplane’s computer systems and networks, which may allow access to external computer systems and networks”.

With passengers being able to access on board internet and in flight entertainment systems, there is a chance someone could cause harm to the aircraft’s computer systems. The FAA requested similar precautions for the Boeing 787 as well.

By the time the 747-8 can fly passengers:

* Boeing must ensure electronic system security protection for the aircraft control domain and airline information domain from access by unauthorized sources external to the airplane, including those possibly caused by maintenance activity.
* Boeing must ensure that electronic system security threats from external sources are identified and assessed, and that effective electronic system security protection strategies are implemented to protect the airplane from all adverse impacts on safety, functionality, and continued airworthiness.

Vijay Takanit, a vice-president for Exostar which provides airline security solution stated points out that most of what happens for passengers and for pilots are disconnected, but there is some crossover. “The passenger equipment, the equipment that is actually providing service in the cabin, is completely segregated from what is providing services in the cockpit. But there is some crossover and [the industry] is trying very hard to make sure the number of crossover points are very limited.”

Find out more information at Mary Kirby’s Runway Girl blog.

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