Skip to main content

Google hooks up with Virgin and Gogo to offer Cloud computing in the clouds

One of the big hurdles to get over when considering Cloud computers is the “What if I am offline” argument –and the number one place people have traditionally been unable to get online is on an airplane.

Gogo Wireless a few years ago started putting that to rest and it is almost unthinkable to take a domestic flight these days without wireless Internet  onboard.

But Google, who want to reinforce the belief that the Internet is everywhere, has teamed up with Virgin and Gogo to give consumers a taste of what its like to operate a computer off with data 35,000 feet below.  The plan will have ChromeOS reps at Virgin gates handing out and instructing passengers on how to use the Chromebooks (we see Samsung’s beautiful Series 5 12-inch devices above – which should fit really well in cramped spaces vs. clunky Windows laptops).  Customers must put down a credit card as a deposit to make sure the Chromebooks make it back, but the transaction is otherwise free.  Virgin and Google are also working on a Chrome web App that will help travelers get ready for their flight.

This is an incredibly smart idea and a great way to make the public aware of these devices…so long as the wireless bandwidth can handle it. (It also might get a few more people signed up with Google)

Full press release below:

Guests Get Exclusive Chance to ‘Test Fly’ New Chromebooks on Select Virgin America Flights – Along with Free WiFi in the Skies

Virgin and Google Team Up to Create New ‘Virgin America Traveler’ App for Connected Flyers

VIRGIN AMERICA CHROMEBOOK July 1st through Sept. 30th, guests on select Virgin America routes can check out a Chromebook at their departure gate and take the new notebook computer out for a spin onboard.  (PRNewsFoto/Virgin America) SAN FRANCISCO, CA UNITED STATES

SAN FRANCISCO, June 30, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Virgin America, the airline that is reinventing domestic flying, today announces that it is teaming up with Google Inc. to offer guests the opportunity to “test-fly” Google’s new Chromebook for free onboard their flight and at select airport gates.  From July 1-September 30, 2011, Virgin America flyers will have the exclusive chance to check out a Chromebook at their departure airport gate and take the new notebook computer out for a spin onboard select Virgin America flights.  In addition, flyers who check out a Chromebook will receive a free WiFi session onboard Virgin America via the Gogo® network.  Virgin America was the first airline to offer fleetwide WiFi, so Chromebook users on all Virgin America flights can open their browser and surf the web for free at 35,000 feet.  With an eight-second boot time, the available Chromebooks are built for today’s connected traveler.

“Our goal has always been to use the best in technology to reinvent the travel experience – and help bring some fun back to flying,” said Porter Gale, Vice President of Marketing for Virgin America.  “As another California company known for connecting people in new ways, Google has been a key partner with us from our very first flights in 2007 – powering the interactive Google maps onboard our Red entertainment platform.  We’re delighted to team up with Google yet again in a way that keeps our guests entertained and connected – in both the physical and virtual clouds.”

Virgin America and Ace Hotel are also launching a “Get Away with a Chromebook” sweepstakes today via Facebook for one lucky winner to score a free Chromebook and fly with a guest to New York for a two-night stay at The Ace Hotel in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.  The winner will also receive a 30-day pass to use Aircell Gogo WiFi Internet service onboard Virgin America.  For details and sweepstakes rules go to

Virgin America guests traveling between the airline’s sleek and sustainable new home at San Francisco International Airport’s (SFO) Terminal 2 and Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) or Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) will see Google “Chrome Zone” lounges at their gates starting this week, where they can learn more about the Chromebook and check one out for their flight.  Travelers can simply check in at their departure gate, swipe their credit card (for deposit purposes) and receive a Chromebook for use on their flights between SFO and DFW, ORD or BOS.  The Chromebooks can be returned at the guest’s arriving gate.  The Chrome Zone service is offered for free for all Virgin America flyers traveling between SFO and the above airports.  Google Chrome Staff will also be on hand at the participating Virgin America gates to assist guests.  In addition to being exclusively available on Virgin America, the new Chromebooks are also now available for purchase on and  For more on the

“Designed for people who live on the web and are on the go, the speed, simplicity and security of Chromebooks are an ideal choice for today’s travelers,” said Caesar Sengupta, Director of Chrome OS at Google. “We’re pleased to partner once again with Virgin America to keep travelers connected and productive no matter where they are – even at 35,000 feet.”

In addition, Google and Virgin America are jointly developing a “Virgin America Traveler” Chrome app which will be made available in July at the Chrome Web Store. The free app will help travelers gear up and get inspired for upcoming trips by allowing users to select their packing essentials on the fly and even brainstorm their next trip using UrbanDaddy’s insider recommendations on where to go, what to see and what to do in select Virgin America cities.  UrbanDaddy’s deep and meticulously updated archives of local content comprise one of the most clever and well-curated collections of real-time city guides available.  The app will also generate a custom packing list of “must-bring” essentials that no traveler should forget to carry-on as they head out to a specific destination.  The app’s Trip Board will feature photos from Virgin America’s destinations to inspire a traveler’s next jaunt.  Virgin America Traveler apps users will be able to then post, tweet and share their packing lists or Trip Boards with their friends – even at 35,000 feet.

“The opportunity to partner with Virgin America as their content partner makes a ton of sense for us as we’re big believers that UrbanDaddy and Virgin America view the world – and the city – in much of the same way and through a very similar lens,” said Lance Broumand CEO of UrbanDaddy.

This is not the first time that Google and the Silicon Valley-based Virgin America have teamed up.  Known for innovation, entrepreneurialism and for connecting people in new ways, Virgin America and Google have come together for two consecutive years to give Virgin America flyers the gift of in-flight connection during the holiday travel season.  In the fall of 2010, Virgin America also moved its operating systems into the “cloud” with Google Apps becoming the award-winning airline’s webmail provider for a network of over 2000 teammates across North America. In June 2009, the airline teamed up with Google for the first-ever live in-flight web-based scavenger hunt.  In 2008, Virgin America launched Gogo In-flight Internet on its first flight with a first ever “air-to-ground” video stream to YouTube Live – YouTube’s first official real-world user event.

Since its 2007 launch, Virgin America has gained a loyal following of business and leisure flyers and has swept the major reader-based travel awards, including “Best Domestic Airline” in both Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards andTravel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards.  Virgin America offers fleetwide WiFi, mood-lit cabins, standard power outlets near every seat and the Red™ in-flight entertainment system – the most advanced personal touch-screen entertainment platform in the skies. The Red platform offers 700+ hours of entertainment content, including the ability to build playlists from over 3,000 MP3s, 30 on-demand films, live TV, interactive Google Maps, videogames, seat-to-seat chat, a first-of-its-kind digital Shop section and an on-demand menu – so guests can order a cocktail or meal from their seatback any time during a flight.

About Virgin America: Headquartered in California, Virgin America offers guests attractive fares and a host of innovative features aimed at reinventing air travel.  In just over three years flying, Virgin America was named “Best Domestic Airline” in the Conde Nast Traveler 2008, 2009 and 2010 Readers’ Choice Awards and “Best Domestic Airline” in Travel + Leisure’s 2008, 2009 and 2010 World’s Best Awards.  Virgin America is a U.S. owned and operated airline that has created 2,000 jobs and welcomed more than 12 million guests since its August 2007 launch.  The airline’s current base of operations is San FranciscoInternational Airport (SFO).  In April 2011, the airline became an anchor tenant at SFO’s new sleek and sustainable Terminal 2.  Virgin America flies to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Cabos, Cancun and Chicago.  For more, please visit:

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

You’re reading 9to5Google — experts who break news about Google and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Google on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel