Tech savvy airline Virgin America has always made a point of putting social to work for them both in their planes and in their marketing plan. First, it was seat-to-seat chat:
Not content to just have us talking to each other, Virgin rolled out a new feature last year that invited fliers to buy each other drinks (or any other food items sold on their inflight RED system) at the press of a button:
But now, Virgin is helping you take aim at business contacts through a new partnership with Here On Biz and WiFi service provider Gogo that taps into LinkedIn profiles when you fly. The Here On Biz will now let you see and connect with people on your specific Virgin America flight. Is that chap in 7C a useful contact for that next big thing you’re dreaming up? Now you can take the leap and find out. Does your plane look empty? Well, thanks to a bit of magic from your GPS chipset and Gogo, you can check out who is on other Virgin America planes in the sky at the same time or see who is bored at their gate, waiting to board.
Virgin America is touting this as “the first social network at 35,000 feet,” and it is squarely targeted to the most coveted demographic of all flyers. So the big question is, will it take off? Given that LinkedIn is the butt of a constant stream of jokes, it’s hard to say. But it is great to see an airline finding new ways to integrate technology into the inflight experience that have the potential to improve a person’s ride to work. First class travelers who enjoy their quiet time in the sky may very well appreciate this way to divert sales pitches to a screen instead of engaging the dude in a suit who decided to hunt them down at their seat. It could also be a boon to coworkers who end up sitting apart, since the service will be available for free over the Gogo WiFi network until July. After that, you’ll have to pay for WiFi access in order to use the app.
To celebrate the new service, Virgin is giving away a frequent flyer’s dream prize: Top-tier status with their eleVAte frequent flyer program (which scores you free upgrades, some VXLoft lounge passes and more), a year of free Gogo WiFi and six flights in Main Cabin Select, which offers fliers extra room, free food, drinks, and entertainment (and a checked bag). All you have to do is tweet @VirginAmerica who you would tweet your perfect #planepitch to in 140 characters or less by March 24th. In addition to the big score, they’re also giving free Gogo flight passes to weekly winners. Enter to win and download the Here On Biz app, which will score you discounted $30 entry to the VX Loft, at planepitch.biz starting today. And if you do enter, I’d love to see what your #PlanePitch was in the comments. Mine was: