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Virgin America to Start Charging for ViaSat Wi-Fi Service

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Earlier this month, Alaska Airlines confirmed that it would be acquiring Virgin America — a deal worth roughly $4 billion. And while we don’t know too much about the acquisition as of yet, we do know one change that Virgin will be making to its product before the acquisition is near finalization.

Starting later this month, Virgin America will begin charging customers to use its super fast satellite Wi-Fi. In July 2015, the carrier launched a partnership with ViaSat to bring its next-generation satellite-based Wi-Fi service to 10 A320s (53 of its aircraft still offer Gogo’s ATG-4 service). The new Wi-Fi service is said to be eight to 10 times faster than other in-flight Wi-Fi services, providing travelers with Wi-Fi speeds similar to what they have at home. With it, passengers can stream everything from movies to HD YouTube videos, and, of course, browse the web and check email.

And now, the service is no longer complimentary. Virgin America will start charging travelers for its fast in-flight satellite Wi-Fi now that it’s out of beta testing. Here is the cost breakdown for the service:

Service Type Flight Length Price
Short Haul
i.e. LAX-SFO
<2 hours $4.99
Short-Medium Haul
i.e. SFO-DEN
2-3 hours $7.99
Medium Haul
i.e. DAL-LAS
3-4 hours $9.99
Medium-Long Haul
i.e. DAL-LGA
4-5 hours $13.99
Long Haul
i.e. SFO-JFK
>5 hours $17.99

There are some exceptions to the new fee. Gogo monthly and annual pass holders can access the ViaSat Wi-Fi for free. Virgin America and Gogo will send an email to pass holders with promo codes to connect. Pass holders can also use the ViaSat portal live chat once in-flight for assistance in starting a free session with the Wi-Fi service.

In addition, Virgin America Elevate Gold members will have complimentary access to ViaSat Wi-Fi through the end of 2016. Elevate Gold members should check their Communication Preferences under My Account to receive promotional emails from Virgin America with free ViaSat Wi-Fi codes. In addition, Elevate Gold members can also use the ViaSat portal live chat for assistance in starting a free session.

If you’re looking to gain status with Virgin America, consider enrolling in a status match. If you have status with American, Delta, United or Southwest, you can enroll in a match for either Elevate Silver or Elevate Gold status. If you have either of Virgin America’s credit cards, the threshold for maintaining that status through the end of 2017 is lowered — 3,000 Status Points for Elevate Silver and 8,000 Status Points for Elevate Gold (5,000 and 12,000 for Silver and Gold, respectively, for non-cardholders).

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