Virgin Australia switched on its inflight wifi trial today

Sir Richard Branson (r) and Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti (l). Photo: Don Arnold/Getty Images.

Virgin Australia kicked off a three-month inflight wifi testing trial on a single Boeing 737-800 plane today.

The airline is racing Qantas to introduce wifi to the skies in a partnership with Gogo and Optus, but was beaten to the punch by the Flying Kangaroo a fortnight ago.

Qantas is also running a single Boeing 737-800 (keep an eye out for VH-XZB) in beta mode until the middle of this year before rolling the system out with the goal of having the 80 planes switched on in the Airbus 330 and Boeing 737 fleet by the end of 2018.

Virgin has been surveying customers trying to gauge whether they’re willing to pay for in-flight internet access, but says the service will be free during the trial and offer complimentary access to streaming services such as Netflix, Stan and Pandora.

While Qantas will offer domestic wifi for free, Virgin Australia group executive John Thomas said his airline will finalise its business model after customer feedback and the testing period.

“We want to ensure that guests can stay reliably connected in the air while also enjoying the fantastic entertainment and customer service for which Virgin Australia is well known,” he said.

“We’re looking forward to receiving guest feedback about our inflight connectivity over the next three months to ensure we are able to offer the best possible service in the sky.”

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