The FINANCIAL — On September 29, Netflix, the world’s one of the leading Internet TV networks, and Virgin America, low-fare, upscale airline known for offering next generation entertainment and connectivity, announced they are joining forces to provide complimentary in-flight WiFi access that allows new and existing Netflix members to enjoy the entire Netflix catalog of films and award-winning shows.
Beginning September 29, Netflix users onboard Virgin America’s new ViaSat WiFi-equipped aircraft will be able to stream the best programming available in the skies, including the hit series House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black, to their phones, tablets, and laptops at no cost through March 2, 2016*. The experience is made possible by Virgin America’s recent connectivity partnership with ViaSat, which brings significantly faster WiFi to the airline’s 10 new airbus A320 aircraft being delivered from fall 2015 to mid-2016. In addition to offering free streaming through its new ViaSat WiFi network, as of next month, Virgin America will also offer House of Cards seasons 1-3 for free on the airline’s recently upgraded Red touch-screen seatback in-flight entertainment platform – so travelers can binge-watch through their own devices or their seatback, according to Virgin America.
Virgin America and Netflix kick off their #NetflixOnboard partnership today with the surprise unveiling of a House of Cards and Netflix-branded aircraft and an appearance by Michael Kelly, the Emmy-nominated star of the Netflix original series House of Cards. Kelly’s character Doug Stamper, who serves as President Frank Underwood’s loyal consultant and Machiavellian fixer, will drop in on Virgin America Flight 1 from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA). Guests onboard the flight will be able to binge-watch Netflix content in Virgin America’s mood-lit cabin and will be treated to a signature Whiskey Whistleblower cocktail, while Kelly – as Doug Stamper – dispenses some tongue-in-cheek, morally-ambiguous political advice over the aircraft’s intercom before take-off.
“Netflix and Virgin America are both known for their focus on innovation and for shaking up their respective industries – so we’re thrilled to team up to bring the best in technology and entertainment to the skies. These latest generation investments in our WiFi and entertainment platforms allow us to provide the largest breadth of streamed content ever available at 35,000 feet – along with entire seasons of some Netflix favorites via the Red platform,” said Abby Lunardini, Virgin America Vice President of Brand Marketing and Communications. “We hope our guests enjoy the offering and know that even President Frank Underwood can’t get entertainment this good onboard Air Force One.”
“As WiFi becomes more ubiquitous, it’s going to be increasingly possible for members to enjoy Netflix wherever they want,” said Bill Holmes, Netflix’s global head of business development. “We’re delighted to partner with Virgin America to extend the joy of Netflix to our members at 35,000 feet.”
As the only airline based in Silicon Valley, Virgin America has long been known for its innovative in-flight experience – including being the first (and still only) U.S. airline to offer WiFi on every flight and power outlets at every seat. Virgin America has one of the youngest fleets in the industry, with custom-designed, mood-lit cabins, comfortable leather seating and a personal seatback entertainment platform that offers every guest their own seatback touch-screen with movies, live TV, interactive maps, videogames, a 3,000 song library and an on-demand menu, which allows flyers to order a cocktail or snack from their seatback any time during a flight.
Earlier this summer, Virgin America announced a new connectivity partnership with ViaSat to bring even faster WiFi to the airline’s 10 new Airbus A320 aircraft being delivered from fall 2015-mid-2016. The partnership leverages ViaSat’s satellite-based in-flight internet service to enable Virgin America’s guests to experience internet speeds similar to what they expect at home – offering WiFi connectivity that is 8 to 10 times faster than any other onboard WiFi system, with the freedom to watch and now stream online directly on any connected device when in-flight. This month the first aircraft with the new ViaSat WiFi service entered service, paving the way for guests to watch all of their favorite Netflix content from the comfort of their plush leather seats. The new ViaSat service* will be rolling out to about one aircraft a month through June 2016 – and the WiFi service will be complimentary for travelers until March 2, 2016. In addition to being the only U.S. airline to offer fleetwide WiFi as of 2009, Virgin America has made continuous investments in its in-flight connectivity system, including upgrading its full fleet to the latest generation ground-based WiFi system as of 2014 and now investing in the most advanced satellite-based WiFi system with ViaSat for its next 10 aircraft deliveries.
Virgin America also recently announced it was implementing a significant upgrade to its Red® in-flight entertainment system, which will allow guests to binge-watch entire seasons of certain Netflix originals, including House of Cards Season 1-3. The new Red Beta creates an even more immersive in-flight entertainment experience with higher resolution capacitive touch screens, Android-based software that allows for faster, real-time updates, and three times more content – including full seasons of favorite television shows, more interactive maps, videogames including classics like Pac Man and Asteroids – along with the first surround-sound listening experience to be offered by an airline.