Virgin America announces AirCell deal (BoingBoing coverage, press release): As previously leaked to BoingBoing writer and NPR correspondent Xeni Jardin, AirCell will equip Virgin America's fleet in 2008 with in-flight broadband. The airline will offer Internet access, but also their Red service, which will allow seatback access to email, Virgin's own chat network, and popular instant-messaging clients.
Jardin notes that the Red chat network will connect all aircraft, creating "what amounts to a fleet-wide, airborne social network." They'll be adding in-flight "interactivity," which I assume could mean multi-player games among other entertainment.
Virgin America is billing this as the first fleet-wide commitment to in-flight broadband, which is true given their limited number of initial aircraft. Still, it's a good commitment, and one that they can make part of their service offerings when they advertise the airline. In-flight broadband should make flights pass faster by offering more distraction--and hopefully distraction that doesn't annoy other passengers.