Virgin to offer Internet access from every seat
March 26, 2001 2:08 PM   Subscribe

Virgin to offer Internet access from every seat Is anyone else blown away by the possibility of this? For sheer entertainment value, or for work purposes, this would be incredible. Even just to let someone know you're running late, etc., this would completely alter my perception of air-travel ...
posted by pupper (18 comments total)
If other airlines follow suit, that might be enough to make me finally buy a laptop. Although I've always wondered if anyone with money to burn has dialed into their ISP through the in-flight phones they have now (most of them have a standard phone jack on them labelled "data") and just surfing the web through an entire coast-to-coast flight. At $2 a minute, that would be...
posted by Potsy at 2:14 PM on March 26, 2001

When I first heard this, I thought, "Who in the world can't wait a few hours to send some e-mail?" I'll stand by that, but I also still think we could do without the phones too. I guess I 'm just old-fashioned and will be ridiculed, if not now, in a few years.
posted by 7sharp11 at 2:28 PM on March 26, 2001

[From the article]: Internet access would be limited to 10-20 Web sites, including some for news, sports and children's entertainment.

Oh, bleh. This one sentence likely rules out any "entertainment value." Only Virgin-approved sites with Virgin-approved "content," and, dare I imagine?--Virgin-approved advertising! It's not like you'll be checking out Stile Project or keeping up with those rabid infidels over at MetaFilter.
posted by Skot at 2:39 PM on March 26, 2001


Skot wins a stuffed animal. 10-20 of the cheesiest websites that you have never visited if you are on this site. If they want to make money then they should offer VPN access to business class and charge up the Wazoo for it. What they offer is a lame attempt to distract people from the humdrum of long flights. Something that, with a little prior thought, could be totally avoided. But don't worry, the sheep will line right up and eat out of the trough like the gluttonous fools that they are.
Gotta love consumers
posted by a3matrix at 2:47 PM on March 26, 2001

Am I the only one who totally misunderstood the headline upon the first read? "Virgin....internet access... seat"... the possibilities!!! lol
posted by ookamaka at 3:02 PM on March 26, 2001

I am so in love with Virgin. Ahem. What I mean is, if you're flying transatlantic, you don't want to fly any other airline (except possibly British Airways, I hear). They have Nintendo in the back of the seats, guys. In coach. And like, seven or eight movies on a revolving schedule, meaning you can pick which one you want to see.

I do think the internet access idea is pretty hokey, however. Limited access? 10 or 20 sites? Bah.
posted by annathea at 3:05 PM on March 26, 2001

What would be really cool would be... Network Games! "I'm coming for YOU seat G5!"
posted by thirteen at 3:11 PM on March 26, 2001


Now what I really want while airborne is a video feed coming from cameras placed all over the outside of the aircraft.

Then I could actually get a sense of flying (far more so than peeping through some pathetic little cabin window) and that's a pretty cool thing all by itself.

Now couple that with a set of VR goggles...
posted by lagado at 3:12 PM on March 26, 2001

E-Mail? Sorry to sound grim, but can we look forward to terrorist/crash play-by-play?
posted by ParisParamus at 3:13 PM on March 26, 2001

Okamaka! you dirty guy, you. Me too! My first thought: there are back of the car access etc but internet access? must be cam stuff. Ahk well, better than nothing.Imagine then how disappointed I became when I discovered they were talking about flying in the sky and whacking keyboards. Wrecked my day.
posted by Postroad at 3:20 PM on March 26, 2001

thirteen has the right idea....THAT would be awesome.
posted by th3ph17 at 3:33 PM on March 26, 2001

"This is your captain speaking. We've reached Chicago's O'Hare airport; we'll be in a holding pattern for the next 45 minutes to give the co-pilot ample time to kill the green guy who's been camping next to the rocket launcher...."
posted by youhas at 5:38 PM on March 26, 2001

I'm pretty sure the reason there are only 10-20 sites is that you're not surfing the Internet, you're browsing an onboard cache. Probably email that you write doesn't get sent until the plane lands, also. It's just a gimmick.
posted by sudama at 8:05 PM on March 26, 2001

Now what would be really cool is if they used AirPort...
posted by toddshot at 9:38 PM on March 26, 2001

Jeez, I wish I'd read the article a little more closely before posting that. 10-20 sites? That's like giving access to the New York Public Library... but only 10-20 selected words (all advertising, of course).

Agreed sudama, it sounds like a dumb gimmick and not real net access. A pox on them for getting me excited about nothing!
posted by Potsy at 9:39 PM on March 26, 2001

As long as they don't let people talk on their cell phones in the plane, I don't mind how bad the Internet access is. Imagine sitting for six hours beside someone who is:
• yelling at a mate or ex-mate
• talking in horrible cutsie-wootsie fashion to a mate (or child or dog or whatever)
• rambling on and on about inane business crap
• telling all his friends to guess where he is
• just, like, you know, uh, calling to say hi, uh...

If planes need phones at all, they need phone stations up near the toilets, and they need to be cheap but timed: maybe you'd get a free call but it'd be good for only five minutes or so, long enough to arrange a ride from the airport, and subsequent calls would cost you a lot.

But real Internet access, even for an extra charge, would be a lovely alternative to bad movies and so on.
posted by pracowity at 12:46 AM on March 27, 2001

I do like thriteens idea for gaming. LAN UT or Quake. The plane ride would zip right by for me. ;-)
posted by a3matrix at 7:05 AM on March 27, 2001

Although I've always wondered if anyone with money to burn has dialed into their ISP through the in-flight phones they have now (most of them have a standard phone jack on them labelled "data") and just surfing the web through an entire coast-to-coast flight. At $2 a minute, that would be...

Happens all the time, and has happened, for years.

Back when I was helping run the CompuServe forum for a laptop manufacturer (this was in 1995-97), we had one regular poster who routinely would add in his flight number, location, speed, etc., to his sig. He was the young punk heir to one of the ten richest families in Mexico, so for him the phone charges were about as significant as a rounding error.

Since then I've frequently see folks dial in, even in coach. Line speeds suck, but it is doable.
posted by aurelian at 10:39 AM on March 27, 2001

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