US start-up Virgin
America will soon permit passengers to order a variety of upscale items via its
“Red” seat-back in-flight entertainment (IFE)
system, as part of a larger program to boost ancillary revenue at the low-cost
with high-end retailers are being brokered, and sale items are expected to be
“shortly” announced, says Virgin America director of in-flight entertainment
and partnerships Charles Ogilvie.
flies today, you’ll see a shop button [on the IFE
screen] – that’s obviously the area it will be in.”
present, passengers can order food, beverages, premium television channels and
new-release movies over the system’s touch screens; a raft of television
channels and a category of music options are free.
carrier in 2008 will begin charging for AirCell
connectivity services in the main cabin. Passengers will be able to access the
Internet and virtual private network (VPN) e-mail accounts using WiFi-enabled devices.
Virgin America’s strategy is to also integrate the broadband offering with its IFE
system. “Six years ago, folks were saying the iPod and DVD players would make the installed
seat-back IFE system non-essential, but what airlines have found and what
passengers have consistently asked for, is hey, 'I don't necessarily need to
have a full-blown laptop'.
move forward, we will continue to offer things that might be also available on
laptop, but are more easily consumed by passengers via the seat-back. The
seat-back becomes a delivery vehicle for a more beneficial airline cabin
applications are also being explored by Virgin America. Allowing passengers the capability to listen to
voicemail messages is, for example, “obviously a high value for some passengers
and it would be non-disruptive”, says Ogilvie.
Federal Communications Commission and the FAA currently prohibit the in-flight
use of cellular telephones. Until regulatory barriers are lifted, VOIP
(voice over IP) may be an option for passengers, but Virgin America “must
consider” how it diminishes or moves the overall availability of bandwidth,