Two months into a planned closure of Vtravelled, Virgin Atlantic passengers are getting a taste of perhaps where the idea is heading instead: in-flight social network.
This week the airline launched the Travel Tip Catcher, a system being introduced to its new fleet of Airbus A330s (the first two known as Beauty Queen and Mademoiselle Rouge) which allows passengers discover and share travel tips during a flight.
The system is contained in the aircraft's in-flight entertainment units and works almost along the same lines as a Facebook or other existing travel social networks - read tips about destinations, writes messages (140 characters, of course) to others using the network, search for reviews and rate content from other passengers.
At this stage the service is quite simple - there is no interaction between passengers in specific seats, for example, or access to product listings and bookings for some of the tours and activities being discussed on the system.
But this could be to where the in-flight version of Vtravelled evolves to, especially if there is some kind of integration with the existing (and presumably rapidly improved) service when it eventually relaunches.
Virgin announced in March 2011 it would be closing the Vtravelled network for six months in a bid to overhaul the service, admitting that the original proposition for Vtravelled, launched in June 2009, had not work out as planned.
Creative director Lysette Gauna said Gauna said at the time the carrier had realised it wanted "credible mass not critical mass" for Vtravelled.
The site also had to contend with Facebook's steepest growth curve during the latter half of 2009 and 2010 - a period when many social networks come under pressure, let alone new ones trying to find a marketplace.
There is no indication as to progress on the upgrade of the main Vtravelled service.
Here's a glossy clip: