Virgin America’s busiest wi-fi route
NYCAviation’s Matt Molnar chats with Virgin America CEO David Cush:
Any idea what the wifi usage rate is on Virgin America compared to other carriers?
We’re certainly higher than other guys. On a system average we’re in the low- to mid-20s. However, that varies widely by flight. If you look at our San Francisco-Boston, which is our highest penetration flight, we generally are over 50 percent on that flight. Same thing on San Francisco-JFK.
And it’s becoming a little bit of a problem. The network is slowed down. This is now an expectation of business travelers. With US Airways announcing last week they’ll be putting wifi on their planes it’s becoming more difficult.
We will be the launch customer for the new Gogo antenna, which will be a multi-directional antenna that can point to the most underused cell. We hope we can get that on an airplane this summer and test it out. But our plan is, if it does what they say it will do, which is four-times the speed that we currently have, then we’ll put it on all the airplanes.
(Context: Gogo’s IPO filing late last year suggested 4% lifetime take-up for in-flight wi-fi. It’s higher now, but low-to-mid-20%s for Virgin still seems well above average. Not surprising, given Virgin’s hipness.)