Virgin America to offer in-flight WiFi, Google Talk

In previous experiments, in-flight WiFi Internet access failed to capture much attention, either because consumers thought it was to expensive or because it wasn't ubiquitous. Ie. if it's not on every aircraft, it's hard to plan your travel time around being productive, sleeping, or watching a movie on your iPod. For those of us who typically only travel on business, in-flight WiFi is a huge productivity enhancer, if only because it saves us from suffering through the naked feeling of offline e-mail.

Virgin says they'll have the service deployed by mid-'08, and while they haven't talked much about pricing, we're guessing this will be a premium service, since the airline has invested a new in-flight portal called "Red" that will allow passengers to surf and chat even if they don't have their own laptops on board. Red will offer access to Skype and Google Talk, too. Very handy indeed.

But this stuff needs to become ubiquitous. Show us a major domestic airline that offers always-on, zero-premium WiFi access and we'll show you an airline that takes a bite out of business traveler market share.

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