Virgin has been a busy company lately. First, Virgin Galactic continues to develop their space-flight and space-tourism program, having recently sent out the VSS Enterprise on its first manned flight, soon to be followed by SpaceShipTwo’s first stratospheric solo-flight and release from the VMS Eve. Second, Virgin Atlantic recently teamed up with Panasonic to develop streaming, live, in-flight TV on a large host of the Virgin Atlantic fleet. Though those services won’t be free, they do mark an important milestone in the evolution of in-flight technology, and apparently Panasonic will be benefitting from the deal just as much as Virgin Atlantic.
Finally, perhaps to cater to America’s particular needs, Virgin America is now upgrading their proprietary in-flight, fully-interactive Red seatback entertainment system. Virgin Red (not to be confused with Red Virgin) was originally launched in 2007, and the systems were like mini-computers installed on the back of every seat. They were built by Panasonic, powered by Linux, and ran on AMD Geo processors. They were accessed either by touching the screen or using the USB remote, and its use was paid for with a Sprint-managed system.
On the old Red, you could track your trip, watch movies, pay-per-view movies, free music videos, live Dish Network TV, and listen to hundreds of different music artists (don’t forget Virgin Records). You could also play games, chat with friends, and even order food and drinks.
The new Red promises all of this – and much more. Specifically, you will see significant upgrades to Google Maps (so you can practically see what you’re flying above as you’re above it – without looking out of the window), have access to a custom bar, order different types of food, and – most importantly (or most relevantly) – go shopping. Plus, you can do all of this by swiping your credit card and opening a tab, so you don’t have to continue to swipe throughout the flight. It’s a party just waiting to happen. Check out a video of the upgrades here.
Now, instead of thumbing through an smudged copy of SkyMall, full of inappropriate graffiti and snide comments, you can tab through it on the Red browser. And with the open tab, you can give in to all of your impulses and buy that Wicked Wing Candle Sconce or that Heated Dog Bowl – and you can do all of this while you’re six miles over Arkansas.
The benefits will serve you, too. Every dollar you spend in flight on Red, you get two Frequent Flyer points. Spend more, fly more, make Sir Richard Branson happy.