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Virgin America to provide free in-flight Wi-Fi


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Virgin is to become the first airline to provide customers with free wireless internet access.

The company's US division, Virgin America, has teamed up with Google to offer free in-flight Wi-Fi over the holiday period from 10 November 2009 to 15 January 2010. The move could set a precedent for other airlines trying to appeal to business users.

Just a couple of years ago all the major airline providers were discussing how to provide customers with Wi-Fi.

Last year some of the big names, including American Airlines, Delta and Virgin America, began installing wireless internet connections. British Airways is also now providing its business class customers with Wi-Fi, having argued initially that its customers preferred a Wi-Fi-free cabin.

However, the cost of connecting to Wi-Fi during a flight has deterred most travellers from logging-on to the services.

For example, Virgin America has been a customer of Google's Gogo Wi-Fi service since May and has charged users up to $13 (£7.90) per flight, a higher price than most hotels charge for 24 hours' use.

Jeff Aguero, a Google product marketer, made the free Wi-Fi announcement in the official Google blog on Monday.

Google could not immediately comment on whether it would be partnering with European airlines in the near future.

The free service is available on Virgin America flights serving the cities listed here.

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