Virgin Atlantic A330 passengers enjoy connectivity

Passengers on Virgin Atlantic flights between the UK and the USA/Caribbean are making good use of the Inmarsat connectivity aboard the airline's Airbus A330 aircraft.

Three of the airline's A330s have been equipped with Arinc's Cabin Connect system in a 12-month trial, Arinc announced at the Airline Passenger Experience Expo, in Anaheim, California.

Passengers on routes between London Heathrow and Gatwick and New York, Washington DC, Boston and the Barbados have been taking part for the past four months.

Great feedback
“We've been pleased with the response from passengers, with the system working well technically, usage numbers strong and increasing and great ad-hoc feedback being received,” said Alan Penlington, Virgin Atlantic's Customer Experience Manager.

Cabin Connect provides a wireless hotspot in the sky, with four access points per aircraft.

Passengers are able to connect via WiFi with their own personal devices, including smartphones, tablets and laptops.

Smart devices
The system uses the aircraft's existing Cobham HGA 7001 satellite antenna, Honeywell MCS7200 terminal and single-channel Inmarsat SwiftBroadband connection.

Lee Costin, Arinc's Director of Satellite Solutions, said: “The majority of passengers are using smart devices, like tablets, but a large percentage are using laptops.”

He added that Virgin Atlantic is experimenting with different pricing plans during the trial, including cost-per-flight and cost-per-hour, to see which works best.

After the trial the airline will consider adding internet connectivity to more of its A330s and possibly its other long-haul aircraft.