Airlines are out to surprise and delight frequent travelers these days, and this week we have two more examples of how.
Free wi-fi: Starting today, those lucky enough to be flying on Virgin America’s newest Airbus A320 jets will get free wi-fi compliments of Netflix.
Now through mid-2016 Virgin has teamed up with Netflix to offer free wi-fi (and free streaming of content like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black) onboard its brand new jets outfitted with the new ViaSat system.
Currently, there are only two of these shiny new A320s darting across the country, but Virgin will be deploying a new one every month through next June, for a total of 10.
The free wi-fi deal is only available on the new A320s with ViaSat– if you are on a Gogo equipped plane, you’ll still have to pay. (But here’s How to save $$ on pricey inflight wi-fi.) Regrettably, there is currently no way to know if the plane you are on has ViaSat or Gogo until you board.
To kickoff the announcement, Virgin is unveiling a House of Cards and Netflix-branded aircraft (pictured above). Also, beginning next month, it will be offering House of Cards seasons 1-3 on all flights via its recently-upgraded Red entertainment system.
Never one to miss out on a show-biz angle, Virgin America is calling in the stars for the launch of this new partnership today. Here’s a what they’ve got going on today:
To help kickoff the surprise unveiling of a House of Cards and Netflix-branded aircraft will be 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.
Secret Upgrades. Last week a new plan to surprise and delight United’s best customers with “secret” upgrades was revealed in an employee memo.
While United confirmed the existence of the program to TravelSkills, details such as criteria for selection remain sketchy.
According the BrianSumers.com blog, United intends to upgrade certain “high value customers” to first class from coach on domestic flights, or to international first class from business class on a segment-by-segment basis.
While most high value customers tend to score upgrades based on their status a few days before a flight, the new surprise and delight plan apparently notifies passengers a few weeks ahead of time.
Have you been the recipient of a mysterious “secret” upgrade yet? Were you surprised or delighted? Let us know!
And finally, one more thing that will surprise and delight you: FREE COFFEE! Today only. Check out my tweet!
— Chris McGinnis (@cjmcginnis) September 29, 2015
NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: SFO could get world’s longest flight + PreCheck: Fewer free rides + Plight of the tall traveler + Photos: New United first class seat + 6 secrets for snagging low fares