Virgin America To Offer Free In-Flight WiFi For Netflix Subscribers



Netflix customers who’ve wished they could download content to bring with them on their mobile devices when they fly still won’t be able to do that, but they will be able to stream video on some Virgin America planes by way of a new partnership that gives Netflix subscribers free WiFi.

The offer will last until March 2, 2016, the two companies said in a press release, and is only available on those planes equipped with Virgin America’s new ViaSat WiFi, which the airline says delivers internet speeds that are typically eight to 10 times faster than any other in-flight WiFi system.

“This advances our goal to bring Netflix to members wherever they are and whenever they want,” Bill Holmes, global head of business development at Netflix said. “For us, the future of streaming technology is about delivering an on-demand service that takes advantage of the expansion of Wi-Fi to public places, parks, and now airplanes.”

To access free WiFi on Virgin planes included in the partnership, passengers will open a browser and sign into the ViaSat network. They’ll then be prompted to either log in to their existing Netflix accounts or create a new, free 30-day trial account (which is great for Netflix’s goal of gaining new subscribers). This of course means you’ll have to bring your own device to watch Netflix, though Virgin will also offer seasons 1-3 of the Netflix series House of Cards on all seat-back screens.

The partnership is in line with Netflix’s anti-downloading stance — the company has said in the past that people shouldn’t have to download content if there’s quality WiFi service available.

It’s also similar to a somewhat recent initiative from JetBlue and Amazon: in May, the airline started offering free streaming to Amazon Prime subscribers. Though customers might need even need to take advantage of that deal if they plan ahead, as Amazon now offers downloads for its Prime members to watch video offline on iOS and Android devices as well.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.