APEX Insight: Earlier news of Virgin America partnering with ViaSat to deploy Ka-band connectivity has new meaning today – without it, passengers wouldn’t be able to stream and binge watch on Netflix – a service the airline announced today, it is offering to passengers for free.

The wait to stream Netflix onboard is finally over. Virgin America announced Monday that the video on-demand service is now available for free on its seatback system and on passengers’ smartphones, tablets and laptops.

The announcement follows earlier news that Virgin America would be equipping its new fleet of Airbus A320s with ViaSat’s Exede In the Air product, which delivers broadband speeds eight to 10 times faster than conventional in-flight Wi-Fi.

“Netflix and Virgin America are both known for their focus on innovation and for shaking up their respective industries – so we’re thrilled to team up to bring the best in technology and entertainment to the skies,” says Abby Lunardini, vice-president, Brand Marketing and Communications at Virgin America.

To kick off #NetflixOnboard, Virgin America has branded one of its planes with the Netflix-House of Cards livery. Passengers on the inaugural flight from San Francisco International Airport to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport will be offered the signature Whiskey Whistleblower cocktail and witness an in-flight cameo of House of Cards’ Doug Stamper, who, on the popular Netflix -production, serves as President Frank Underwood’s loyal consultant and cunning fixer. The character, played by actor Michael Kelly, will be quipping his morally ambiguous political advice over the aircraft’s speaker system prior to take-off.


To stream House of Cards or any movie or TV show in the Netflix catalogue, passengers simply log in or sign up for a free 30-day trial once they connect to the in-flight Wi-Fi network. The service will be free through March 2, 2016.

JetBlue, which also uses ViaSat’s Ka-band connectivity, offers a similar streaming service to its passengers through Amazon Prime’s Instant Video, and Marriott Hotels enables guests free streaming of Netflix in their hotel rooms.

“As Wi-Fi becomes more ubiquitous, it’s going to be increasingly possible for members to enjoy Netflix wherever they want,” says Bill Holmes, global head of Business Development at Netflix. “We’re delighted to partner with Virgin America to extend the joy of Netflix to our members at 35,000 feet.”