Kicking off a partnership with app creator HereOnBiz, Virgin America has started encouraging connections with other business travelers during flights over an in-flight social network. Utilizing a location-aware application called Here on Biz, interested users connect up another social network to the account such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. After logging into the Here on Biz application at the gate or on the plane, travelers can view profile pictures of other users in the vicinity as well as name, company, job title and a short bio. Users can also list websites on their profile in order to show off their portfolio of work.
This type of app could be particularly useful when traveling to a conference in order to connect with others on the plane that are traveling for the same reason. The application also includes a location-aware notification service that let’s users know when an existing professional contact is in the vicinity. In addition, chat functionality is built into the application, but requires a professional connection between the two parties before a chat session can be launched. The application also includes privacy settings in case users want to temporarily or permanently hide their profile from public view.
According to Virgin America, travelers will be able to access Here on Biz on all Virgin flights by the end of February. Of course, accessing the application on an iOS smartphone or tablet also requires an in-flight subscription to the Gogo In-Flight Wi-Fi network. That’s likely why the target users for this in-flight social network are professionals. Many could already be working during the flight, thus requiring access to the in-flight Wi-Fi service.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that Virgin America has attempted to get passengers chatting with each other. During April 2013, Sir Richard Branson announced a seat-to-seat communication service that allowed users to send texts as well as consumable items like beverages and food to passengers in other seats.