Virgin Blue preparing to introduce Panasonic’s Red IFE system?

VH-VUY interior.JPGVirgin Blue’s 737 victor uniform yankee received a lot of attention for its AFL promotional livery, but its interior is more fascinating.

Where a PTV should be is a nice big gray plastic cover to hide the hole behind (above). How is this plastic fantastic?

The cover’s proportions are much more rectangular than square, the traditional shape of PTVs. It is also quite large and takes up almost all of the upper seatback.

VH-VOZ Y_1.JPGWhat this easily points to is affirmation of the talk of Virgin Blue installing on its 737s the Panasonic Red IFE system, which is currently in use on Virgin America and V Australia. 

Have a look at the photos on the right of Red on V Australia’s 777 (top) and Virgin America’s A320 (bottom). The PTV size matches our 737 seatback plastic (as well as from other Panasonic operators).

VX320 interior.jpgPlastic unfortunately doesn’t give away content clues, but it’s expected Red on Virgin Blue will have some free and some paid content on the 737 while the carrier’s forthcoming A330-200s will have more premium or free content.

In comparison, Qantas offers Panasonic’s eX2 on A380s, A330-200s (they ply the transcon routes Virgin Blue is after with its A330s), and new 737-800s.

For anyone thinking Virgin’s existing live2air system may be installed, rule that out: this aircraft and others before it have not been delivered with the satellite installed. For a look at the satellite hump on the fuselage, see this photo.

Virgin Blue 737 VH-VUY blue logos.JPGVictor uniform yankee, and other recently-delivered 737s, don’t feature premium economy seats, but we’ve known since last year premium economy was being ditched.

What I don’t have an explanation for is the “blue” and boomerang logo imprints on cabin walls and seat headrests. All signs point to “blue” being dropped in Virgin’s new branding–due to be revealed next Wednesday along with new crew uniforms–so why bother imprinting the logo on seat covers? Or were they leftovers or ordered before name discussions started taking place?

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