Taking Virgin America Across the Country Again

virgin-america-at-sfoAnother flight out of SFO on Silicon Valley’s own tech friendly airline. Complete with USB plugs, power plugs and a touch screen entertainment system that runs Linux.
And in-flight Google Maps!

Virgin America’s purple and blue mood lighting brightens up the cabin at night.

How many domestic airlines have mood lighting?

A good way to begin your flight from SFO’s terminal 2 is to hit up Pinkberry for some swirly goodness while you fire off a few quick emails on SFO’s free wireless before boarding. While you can use Virgin America’s on board Wi-Fi service to get some work done, you can’t use it until the plane gets up to cruising altitude, so you’ll have a brief period of disconnected down time. Cherish this brief moment of Zen and collect your thoughts.

If you don’t feel the need to spring for the GoGo in-flight WiFi on Virgin America, you can still browse a few things using the free WiFi service on the plane. The flight tracker is interesting and a little more configurable than the Google Maps on the headrest screens.

Virgin America Flight Tracker Map with weather layer via free in-flight WiFi

I uploaded this screen shot while high in the sky on the flight and the connection speed wasn’t too bad. Sometimes the WiFi internet connection is intermittent, but syncs right back up once the ground based signal is strong again. GoGo in-flight internet uses the ground based cellular network, so the signal has to be passed from antenna to antenna just as it would if you were using a mobile phone in a car, but it has to work at 500 miles per hour 8 miles above the antennas. On a flight that is not quite full the connection remains about as fast as DSL. But if everyone on the plane starts watching YouTube, then the shared connection will slow to a crawl.

Dinner is served Virgin America economy style
Soothing purple mood lighting bathes the subtle grid pattern on the interior walls of the Virgin America aircraft.