virgin america rocks

Flying from Boston to San Francisco right now on Virgin America. The plane is new, the entertainment system runs GNU/Linux, you can order food and drink (soft drinks free, the rest is sadly overpriced) right from the touch screen in front of you, and the wifi is rock solid and not too expensive ($12.99 with 25% off – about $10) for a 6 hour flight. And there are 2 power plugs for every 3 seats in economy.

SSH is entirely useable, latency between 100 and 300ms. The wireless is offered by GoGo, and apparently they use an EVDO uplink.

If you are so inclined you can pay to watch movies and TV (overpriced IMO, at $8/movie), but the games and music are free. Good music selection too, and you can build your own playlist. I couldn’t keep listening to it though, as the system fed a really annoying high-pitched hiss into my headphones. Also, the switch between PA announcements (of which there are very very few, thankfully) and back made one song just go super super quiet for me, and I couldn’t get normal volume again until I skipped to the next song.

I also saw some funky decoding artefacts on a neighbour’s screen, who was watching a movie. And there are quite a few features that are still to be implemented (the button is there but you just get a message stating .

The travel map is made with Google maps, and it has some nice features – it lets you zoom in/out and recenter the map. It also tells you how fast the plane is going and what the temperature is outside, but curiously an arrival estimate or even a display of the time at the place of arrival is missing. The system has a number of preferences that can be set, but it won’t allow you to switch to metric for the readouts, sadly.

So, all in all this flight has been very pleasant – and productive. I’ll hate to fly with a conventional carrier after this…

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