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live2air report

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Yada Yada

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As I walked down the air bridge this morning I peered out the porthole and was happy to see that my SYD-MEL flight was being operated by VH-VBO. Finally, I'd get the chance to check out Virgin Blue's live2air.

VH-VBO is a 737-700 and has a small hump on top of the fuselage towards the rear, the only tell-tale sign from the outside that this is a live2air fitted aircraft (aside from the registration).

I took my allocated seat approx 10 mins before departure. All of the screens were on and playing a looping video containing Virgin Blue live2air promos and some travel content. The cabin supervisor announced that live2air would be activated upon push back and would be free to use until we were airborn, after which it would require payment via credit card.

The system is very easy to use. I swiped my card just after push-back and a prompt immediately appeared on the screen telling me to push the channel up button to accept the $6.00 charge or channel down button to cancel.

There is a card in the seat-back pocket listing all of the channels - there are 29 all up, 24 of which are Foxtel channels, 1 is a map flight tracking screen, 1 is "Voyeur Active" (the looping promo channel mentioned above) and 3 radio station channels.

All seats have a pair of ear plugs in a clear plastic satchel waiting for you when you board. These provided great sound. The arm rest houses the controls - channel up/down, volume up/down and brightness up/down buttons. The ear plug socket is in the front of the arm rest, which was not immediately obvious.

The screens are a good size given the short distance in front of you and they were bright with a crisp image and viewable from a wide angle, and have tilt adjustment.

It was great to have 24 channels of live Foxtel to watch. It was like being at home with the remote control! :D I was impressed by the ease of use and the quality of the picture, and the fact that I could watch it from push back until we docked in MEL. In fact after I stood up and was waiting for the door to be opened, my program was still playing, so you get good bang for your buck.

Being a live system, when an announcement is made in the cabin the program is not frozen - it just keeps playing. Looping IFE's obviously have a small advantage here. In addition, when the pilot made a hard turn approaching MEL, the program disappeared for approx 5 seconds and was replaced by a screen that said something to the effect of "due to aircraft operations, your program has been temporarily suspended". No big deal really.

It looked like about 25% of the pax were using the system, and most of those who did not pay kept their earplugs in and watched the Voyeur Active channel for free.

live2air is fantastic. It made the flight go so quickly. I was surprised when we touched down as I was not really paying attention to where the plane was on approach. My flight home this afternoon will be boring by comparison unless I happen to be lucky and get VH-VBO again. Fingers crossed... sitting here in The MEL Lounge. :cool:

EDIT: I forgot to mention that my flight docked in MEL on the southern pier, formerly used by OzJet. They have put DJ signage on the gates down there so it looks like they have expanded somewhat in MEL.
 

JohnK

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Thanks for the report Peter.

Sounds like you enjoyed your live2air experience. :)

Interesting that you have to pay to watch the flight path!
 
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Mal

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A good report on Live2Air :)

Sounds like the system is exactly what the flyer ordered on some of those longer flights (eg BNE-PER // SYD-PER etc) and a competitive advantage for those who don't want to watch the standard Qantas entertainment. I like the way it is switched on early and switched off late. Much better than another airline's system of switching it on late and turning it off early.

Hope to have it on my next DJ flight, whenever that may be!

(BTW, are the headphones the standard plane type? Wondering if I can just grab a pair when I'm on the plane and save paying the DJ fee for headphones on their other flights).
 

kpc

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It sound great! I would be happy to fork out $6 on flights 90 minutes or more...tax invoice or not;). If there was a live sporting event that I was interested in, well I would just pay regrdless of the flight duration!
 

maninblack

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Thanks for the report. Good thinking Virgin. Again QF is miles behind. And the fact that you can watch it from go to whoa is great unlike that nonsense of them turning the system off 20 minutes before you land (when they have personal IFE)
 

serfty

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StevePER said:
Is there any way to get a tax invoice when you pay for this thing?
Far easier than paying cash for a drink; using a CC, it should show up as a transaction in some manner.

From there it should be identifiable as a Travel Expense for claims etc. AMEX should be pretty good for that.

Peter, can you advise how the transaction appears?
 

Yada Yada

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JohnK said:
Thanks for the report Peter.

Sounds like you enjoyed your live2air experience.

Interesting that you have to pay to watch the flight path!
Yes, I did enjoy it. Give me a remote control, lots of channels to choose from and a drink in my hand and I'm a happy man. :D

I forgot to mention that you can watch the flight path for free. ;)

Mal said:
(BTW, are the headphones the standard plane type? Wondering if I can just grab a pair when I'm on the plane and save paying the DJ fee for headphones on their other flights).
No, they are the standard single-pin 3.5mm stereo jack type. I purchased a pair of the standard DJ 2-pin earplugs a while back and keep them in my briefcase, but you can also just buy an adaptor from DSE and use any set of earplugs if you want.

StevePER said:
Is there any way to get a tax invoice when you pay for this thing?
Not that I noticed. According to the ATO, a tax invoice is not necessary for purchases of less than $50.00, but you should still have a receipt. The itemisation on my cc statement will be sufficient for my accountant but I don't know the official ATO position on not having a receipt for something like this. It's probably something that DJ needs to consider (if they haven't already).

kpc said:
It sound great! I would be happy to fork out $6 on flights 90 minutes or more...tax invoice or not;). If there was a live sporting event that I was interested in, well I would just pay regrdless of the flight duration!
I think there were 3 sports channels running and I watched a bit of the cricket live from overseas. Very cool.

maninblack said:
Thanks for the report. Good thinking Virgin. Again QF is miles behind. And the fact that you can watch it from go to whoa is great unlike that nonsense of them turning the system off 20 minutes before you land (when they have personal IFE)
Yes, it's always baffled me that it gets turned off so early. I guess they want to get the cabin tidied up for a quick turnaround.

serfty said:
Peter, can you advise how the transaction appears?
I just checked online but yesterday's transactions have not been posted yet, so I'll report back.

Another thing I forgot to mention... on the card in the seat-back pocket, it mentioned that if you are sitting in seats 1A-1B-1C you will be offered a portable live2air player after take-off. I guess they could not fit the screen into the arm rests after all. So if you pay extra to sit in the front row, you won't get to use live2air for as long as the other pax can. I could not see what the situation was in seats 1D-1E-1F as I was at the back and I left by the rear door. Presumably they have screens in the arm-rests or on the bulkhead in front.
 
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It's my understanding, the second aircraft due to have Live2air TV is currently in the United States having the system fitted and is expected back around mid-November. Aircraft should be VH-VUF.

Perhaps crazydave98 can confirm. Also I'm wondering when they switch to sending the 737s to Christchurch (Correct?) for Live2air installation?

Good to see it's being enjoyed!

For those interesed, Airliners.net Photos: Virgin Blue Airlines Boeing 737-76N shows the "Hump" on the back of the 737.

Cheers,
Wunala Dreaming
 

Yada Yada

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Wunala Dreaming said:
It's my understanding, the second aircraft due to have Live2air TV is currently in the United States having the system fitted and is expected back around mid-November. Aircraft should be VH-VUF.
Thanks for the info, Wunala Dreaming! I didn't realise they were flying aircraft to the USA to fit the system. That must cost a lot of money! :shock:

In case others are interested, VH-VUF is a 737-800 named "Hobart Honey".

It will be interesting to see how they go fitting the system to the different seat types that they have in the fleet.
 

JohnK

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Yada Yada said:
I forgot to mention that you can watch the flight path for free. ;)
Cool! Time to start looking for cheap airfares for Ozfest IV. :)
 

NM

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Yada Yada said:
Thanks for the info, Wunala Dreaming! I didn't realise they were flying aircraft to the USA to fit the system. That must cost a lot of money! :shock:
It doubles as a proving flight for their new Trans-Pacific services :shock: .
 

Yada Yada

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NM said:
It doubles as a proving flight for their new Trans-Pacific services :shock: .
:D how many stops would they have to make on a 737-800? :shock:
 

NM

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Yada Yada said:
:D how many stops would they have to make on a 737-800? :shock:
I believe they ferry them here from Seattle with a single stop for the delivery flights. But that is with no pax and possibly extra fuel tanks installed (not sure on the extra tanks, but will ask a Jetcare engineer who has done the delivery run).

So, if they don't sell any tickets they can do it with a single stop.
 

Yada Yada

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serfty said:
Peter, can you advise how the transaction appears?
Ross,

The transaction appears on the statement like this:

Code:
27 Oct 2006    VIRGIN BLUE FORTITUDE VAL AU     6.00
 
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According to the post here, VH-VUF's routing was BNE-NAN-KOA-SAN-MCO with possibly a similar routing on the way back to Australia.

I'd really like to know when they switch Live2air TV installation to CHC (Correct?) and would also really like to see the installation schedule - crazydave98, where are you :D

Cheers
 

DJ CC

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Apr 16, 2006
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VUF is in service by now and the rest of the 737 fleet should be done by October 2007. I dont think the new Embraer's will be getting it as they will be primarily used on short sectors.
I believe that you can ask for a tax receipt the crew "should" have a book for that in the galley.
IMHO I would not sit in 1a,b,c if you want to watch this as you dont get the unit till after take off and it must be restowed before landing. So for those regulars out there just ask for row 13 on a 700 or row 15 on the 800.
I dont think PB will be getting them installed but you never know. As the fleet gets fitted out in CHC they may just test them over the pond to see if they can get any coverage from the satellites that hover over Aus and NZ.
Lastly it is a gate to gate system which means other than the safety demo and PA's you will have uninteruppted Foxtel.
 

crazydave98

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Wunala Dreaming said:
According to the post here, VH-VUF's routing was BNE-NAN-KOA-SAN-MCO with possibly a similar routing on the way back to Australia.

I'd really like to know when they switch Live2air TV installation to CHC (Correct?) and would also really like to see the installation schedule - crazydave98, where are you :D

Cheers
Installation will begin in CHC in the new year and as DJCC mentioned should be completed fleet-wide during the year. Our intent is also to install live2air in the Embraers - one of the reasons we acquired the type is that it has the range capability to fly anywhere in our network - not just confined to short routes.

cheers
CrazyDave98
 
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737-700 VH-VPB "Deja Blue" is the next aircraft to receive Live2Air TV (will be upgraded next week).

It's my understanding DJ will try and upgrade an aircraft every 2 weeks, with completion by the end of 2007.

Regards
 
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