Netflix starts streaming 6 miles up thanks to Virgin America deal

The draconian restrictions on inflight Wi-Fi are easing up – at least on some airlines. Rather than ban streaming video in planes like most airlines, Virgin America is actively encouraging its customers to binge-watch their favorite programs on Netflix. A new partnership announced today between the airline and streaming service will make high-speed internet access free until March.

Photo Credit: Virgin America

Photo Credit: Virgin America

Before you get too excited, know that this doesn’t apply to all Virgin America flights, only new Airbus craft decked out with ViaSat’s Exede satellite-to-plane connectivity service. Virgin America traditionally has relied on Gogo for inflight Wi-Fi, but Gogo’s limited capacity has meant a slow and often expensive internet experience for travelers. ViaSat’s service, however, is built off the back of a super-satellite with 140 Gbps of total capacity, meaning its airline partners no longer have to be so stingy with their bandwidth.

A lot of airlines and inflight ISPs have been upgrading their aircraft and networks to support faster speeds. Gogo just boosted its own speeds with a new souped-up satellite service called 2Ku, and more airlines are starting to connect to ViaSat’s network. We’re still a long way from Wi-Fi in the sky becoming as fast and as cheap as Wi-Fi on the ground, but the internet experience at 35,000 feet is getting better.

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