Virgin America, the California-based airline that is reinventing the flying experience, and Here On Biz, the app that ensures entrepreneurs never miss an opportunity to connect, have teamed up to launch the first in-flight social network – rolling out on all domestic Virgin America flights by the end of February. With a growing following of always-connected, tech-forward business travelers, Virgin America will offer guests on flights nationwide the opportunity to "network on the fly" at 35,000 feet. Travelers can download the free Here On Biz app from the Apple App store before their flight and use it in the air to locate LinkedIn connections on their Virgin America flight, at the airport or en route to a conference. Relying on the airline's fleetwide Gogo In-Flight WiFi network and purpose-built APIs that identify an aircraft's location in the air, Here On Biz's geo-location technology offers travelers the chance to connect via the app with guests on their specific flight, guests on other Virgin America flights in the air, or fellow travelers at their destination. This month through July 2014, guests on all domestic Virgin America flights can access the Here On Biz app for free through the Gogo network. App users can manage their privacy settings, so that travelers can shut off or limit their visible connections to others onboard.
"When we surveyed our business travelers, we were surprised to learn that the ability to connect with other Virgin America travelers in-flight or en route to a destination was a frequent request. Given our home in Silicon Valley and network of tech-focused cities as well as the fact that our guests often choose us because they need to stay connected via our fleetwide WiFi, it makes sense. The best business connections often happen unexpectedly, and we've heard many stories of partnerships and start-up ideas being born on our flights," said Luanne Calvert, Virgin America's Chief Marketing Officer. "Although geo-location apps abound, bringing mobile location to 35,000 feet is unique – and we hope this is an interesting, easy way for entrepreneurs to take advantage of downtime in-flight to build or renew their professional connections."
"This partnership allows flyers to take advantage of those serendipitous travel moments where people with complementary business interests are in the same place at the same time – even if that place is on a plane somewhere 35,000 feet above the U.S.," said Nick Smoot, CEO & Co-Founder of Here On Biz. "With our iOS app and this partnership with Virgin America, you can find your next big connection in seat 4C – or even just a row away from you."
"The Here On Biz app is another great example of how companies are leveraging Gogo's in-flight platform to create engaging experiences for passengers in the air," said Ash ElDifrawi, Gogo's Chief Commercial Officer. "We continue to empower cutting edge digital companies to develop applications that can be incorporated into the platform that will help inform, engage and entertain travelers. Virgin America has been at the forefront of offering these services to its guests."
In 2013, Virgin America surveyed a portion of its top Elevate frequent flyers in its New York, San Francisco and Dallas markets. The ability to network in-flight with other Virgin America flyers was a suggestion that came out of these focus group sessions. The Here On Biz app allows users to see business professionals nearby who are interesting and allows users to chat with those they are connected to. The app provides the real time location of a user's contacts through LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and those in the user's address book who use the app. In a unique partnership with Gogo and Virgin America, the app is now taking networking to 35,000 feet.
How the Virgin America-Here on Biz In-Flight network works:
Download the new Here On Biz iOS app from the mobile app store before your flight.
Register a new account using your LinkedIn profile.
Rolling out to all domestic flights by the end of February, guests can start connecting when they log in at a gate or onboard at 35,000 feet via Gogo on Virgin America. App users will be able to connect with other Virgin America guests traveling on their particular flight, other travelers on any Virgin America aircraft currently airborne, or fellow Virgin America guests at their destination.
In May 2009, Virgin America became the first airline to offer fleetwide WiFi and today remains the only U.S airline to offer WiFi on every flight. In 2011, the airline became the first carrier to launch Gogo's improved ATG-4 WiFi service on select flights. The ATG4 technology increases WiFi capacity by approximately four times the current performance through the addition of directional antenna, dual-modem and EV-DO Rev. B technologies. The airline intends to complete its fleetwide installation of ATG-4 in 2014. Virgin America is further investing in the connectivity of its fleet as the launch partner for Gogo's next generation Ground to Orbit satellite WiFi technology. With power outlets at every seat, Virgin America regularly sees more than one-third of guests logging on to in-flight WiFi on its more popular long-haul flights.
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