Virgin America revealed network expansion plans today, a development that provides more opportunities for the airline's passengers to document the highs and lows of their customer experiences through social networks because all of the airline's 28 Airbus A320 aircraft are equipped with Wi-Fi.
Virgin America says it will file an application with the U.S. Dept. of Transportation to get the authority to fly to Canada, its first international service, and it hopes to be offering daily nonstops from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Toronto beginning in June.
The airline, U.S. controlled and with a minority stake from Richard Branson's Virgin Group, also announced it will begin Orlando service from Los Angeles and San Francisco in August, but will terminate service to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif., at the end of the May.
But, as carriers around the world install Wi-Fi service for their passengers, one apparently unintended consequence is that if a flight hits turbulence -- of the aerodynamic or passenger service varieties -- airlines can no longer hope that the news will remain within the confines of the cabin.
With Wi-Fi at their fingertips, travelers can unleash their experiences in real time -- with sometimes-viral results.
CNET News' Technically Incorrect blog points out David Martin, CEO of media-sharing social network Kontain, posted the following video onboard Virgin America's now-notorious Los Angeles flight, which got diverted last weekend from its intended JFK destination because of bad weather to Newburgh, N.Y. The flight is said to have taken 16 hours amidst reports that the flight crew was rationing potato chips for its starving passengers.
Here's Martin's video. He used an iPhone app to post the video.
As airlines rollout Wi-Fi in their cabins, they are now realizing that videos will be rolling too.
Virgin America obviously monitors social networks. Prompted by his Kontain posts, Martin promptly received a call from Virgin America CEO David Cush, who pledged that the airline will remedy the aforesaid customer service issues.