Virgin Atlantic Airways today became the first British airline to offer passengers SMS texting and e-mail facilities onboard after signing an agreement with its service provider ARINC. The service, launched today, is currently onboard one plane and will be on four aircraft by the end of September and then rolled out progressively across the fleet.
All passengers will be able to send e-mails and SMS text messages from their seat back television screen to e-mail addresses or mobile phone numbers on the ground. Messages of up to 160 characters will be sent instantly from the aircraft and will only cost £1.75. Initially charges will be made by credit card with the airline planning to introduce pre-paid cards later this year. Passengers will be able to receive e-mails and text messages onboard from the autumn.
The new services will be integrated onto two IFE systems, one of them being the new Matsushita MAS3000 system which also provides passengers with up to 300 hours of video on demand, 14 audio on demand channels, 15 computer games including multi-player games, and a quick find search facility and the largest seat-back television screen in both business class at 10.4” and in Economy at 9”.
Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic, said;
“Virgin Atlantic has always led the way with inflight technology and entertainment and we will continue to deliver the most advanced inflight entertainment experience available to passengers. The introduction of e-mail and SMS text capabilities will enhance our award winning inflight entertainment for all passengers - unlike other airlines who focus solely on those in business class.
“In traditional Virgin style we’ll add a fun element as well with our very own ‘Good Text Guide’ for tips on how to make the most out of your message.”