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I'm en route to Boston right now, cruising at 36881 feet on a Virgin America flight WHILE USING THE INTERNET. OMFG, the future is here.

Here are the stats you might be looking for: I did a 3 speed tests and on the first found 1.3 megabits download and 0.3 megabits upload with a latency of 121 msec. That's pretty decent, especially for $12.95 for the whole 5-hour flight. I've been working over email, watching YouTube videos, downloading big PDFs (about 45 megs each), and generally having a good time. The one quirk I found was that I couldn't use SSL on my SMTP server, but SSL worked find on my POP3 receiving server.

I'm trying to get some critical production tasks done, and the rep I work with emailed me to call her. Thinking I was so tricky and cool, I fired up Skype and dialed out. Massive failure. For some reason the sound is horrendously choppy and thin sounding. It was completely unusable. I didn't get a chance to speak and see how I sounded on the other end. I tried dialing the Skype test call, but I only caught every other word. So much for my dreams of in-flight video conferencing while yelling over the din of jet engines.

I did two additional speed tests throughout the flight and these are the results:
Download: .43 megabits
Upload: .29 megabits
Ping: 153 msecs

Download: .98 megabits
Upload: .26 megabits
Ping: 118 msecs

All tests were through through the Dallas server.

With those pings I'm not going to be playing any Counter Strike on the flight, but overall, big ups to Virgin America. I highly recommend the service, except that if everyone uses it, I assume the bandwidth will get divided. So use it as long as you're not on a flight with me.

On a side note, there was an ad for in-flight Absinthe from France. I asked a flight attendant if it is the real stuff, and she said yes. Does anyone know if it's truly the good stuff? I wasn't going to mix Absinthe and work email. That just couldn't be a good idea.

I give the in-flight internet a 140/160 Mana Points on the account that the Skype thing is very strange. I also don't know if you can network to other computers on the same WiFi up here for some LAN action, although since WiFi is no longer verboten, it seems like an ad hoc network would do just fine.

Why am I going to Boston? I'm there representing Mana Energy Potion and discussing in-game advertising at MIT Sloan's Business in Gaming conference.


partychief said...

commercially produced absinthe today is very good but sadly not the real wormwood f#ck your mind trick that was around a century ago. that being said there are some great local products lurking around the French Alps so make a plan if you're in this part of world at some point.

btw, curious to know about the Virgin service - did you do any traceroutes to check the packet path, would be good to see where the air network ends and hits the terrestrial infrastructure...

Mikey said...

The Absinthe is the real deal, I had a glass on a flight on Monday (it's
Le Tourment Vert from France). Absinthe became legal in the states about a year ago. My preference is the Absinthe Verte from the Bay Area's St. George Spirits (made in Alameda). St. George is an awesome distillery and worth a visit if you find yourself in the area. They have some very steam-punk looking contraptions there.

Dave said...

The only "real" (makes you trip) absinthe is Czech not French. The french stuff doesn't contain enough wormwood per vol. to make you feel it. Especially because the stuff is 70%+ alcohol, you get drunk before you start tripping. That's true for the Czech stuff as well. You gotta mix it with water and sugar, usually by the 3rd shot's worth you'll be too buzzed to notice the distorted reality.

Anonymous said...

It's very possible that "real absinthe" is more likely from Portland, Oregon than the Czech Republic or France...

Gary Winterboer said...

I'm posting this from Virgin America FL97 from IAD to LAX using GOGO service right now.

I was able to do a few video iChat sessions without being blocked, but the audio didn't come through.

Its amazing service, Virgin America really has something here. Their "RED" need some fine tuning, its very slow and buggy.

It makes a cross-country flight go by a lot faster.

Gogo Inflight Internet said...

Thanks for the post about Gogo Inflight Internet on Virgin America. Come see us at and We always appreciate feedback so we can make Gogo even better.

IanKoro said...

The reason that the real absinthe of today isn't a crazy mind trip is because it never really was. Wormwood simply does not have any significant psychotropic effects in doses that aren't near fatal.

dbrdare said...

it's actually written in the terms and conditions that voip programs can't be used, because they use a lot of bandwidth. the system monitors itself and if you use too much, then it cuts your speed to something like 200k for a few minutes. i tried watching a live video feed and when i talked to the gogo guy about the problem, he told me all of the above.

glad you enjoyed the flight. cheers!

.aaron said...

So it sounds like "Yeah! Absinthe" "Nay, VOIP" Also, I'd like to point out, on my flight home, I found there are power outlets under the seats. What a cool freakin' airline. I heard the same thing

@dbrdare Wow, did not catch that in the T&C. That totally explains it. Someone mentioned on Slashdot that you could encrypt the data, and they'd never know. Ahem, that would be against the T&C though. YouTube actually worked really well though.

I feel like I'm living in the future.