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Travel Goes Tech: In-Flight Social Networks and Google Glass Check-In

Feb 12 2014 - 6:09am

The cabins of Virgin America and Virgin Atlantic are flying past mile-high WiFi and setting more advanced tech destinations. In the US, Virgin America announced on Tuesday it was launching the first in-flight social network [1], and this week its sister company in the UK, Virgin Atlantic, begins a six-week trial of using Google Glass to check in passengers ticketed in the upper class cabin.

Read on for details of how these airlines are bringing more tech to air travel.

Source: Virgin America [2] and Virgin Atlantic [3]

Networking in the Sky

From February through July 2014, travelers can connect with business contacts by using the Here on Biz app [4] (free) with the Gogo in-flight WiFi service at no extra charge. Here on Biz uses LinkedIn's API to find LinkedIn connections on your same flight or at the airport.

The app likens their service to a "geo-aware rolodex," which is what Virgin America said was exactly what its business travelers were looking for. After all, you've got nothing but time to network when on a cross-country flight.

A Smarter Check-In

"Flying is less glamorous than it used to be," Virgin Atlantic discovered in a survey of 10,000 passengers [5] — though, uh, we could've told you that! To bring a "glamorous" addition traveling, starting this week Virgin Atlantic staff at Heathrow Airport will meet upper class passengers at the curb wearing Google Glass to begin check-in. The staff will also use the wearable technology to update guests on flight information, weather, and breaking news from their destination.

So why such a public experiment with wearable gadgets, a product that mass consumers themselves have yet to fully embrace? Virgin Atlantic's director of IT, Dave Bulman, says "The whole [travel] industry needs to listen to what these passengers are calling for and keep innovating to bring a return to the golden age of air travel."

Do you think the use of these technologies will help make travel a less stressful affair?

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