Virgin Atlantic tests Apple iBeacon for flight alerts, discounts

By David Flynn, February 11 2014

Your iPhone could become an even more essential travel tool during Virgin Atlantic's trial of Apple's iBeacon technology.

As part of a pilot program which also involves Google Glass and Sony SmartWatches, Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic has installed the Bluetooth-powered iBeacon transmitters at the Upper Class business class wing of its terminal at London's Heathrow Airport.

Between Apple's iBeacons, Google Glass and Sony SmartWatches, Virgin Atlantic's team are just a few implants short of being bionic...

A nearby iPhone – typically sitting in the pocket or purse of a business class passenger – can receive pop-up alerts with information on nearby services, discounts and updates on their flight boarding schedules via Virgin Atlantic's iPhone app.

Apple has been gently testing the iBeacon waters with selected partners, most recently installing dozens of beacons around Times Square and MetLife Stadium to beam updates on the 2014 Super Bowl to iPhones with the NFL Mobile app installed.

iBeacons are also slated to be installed at Major League Baseball venues later this year, and are already running in some Macy's and American Eagle stores as well as Apple Stores.

Also read: Google Glass brings the future of flying into focus

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David
David

David Flynn

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Hugo

Hugo

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

Oh, a new way to get ads? How fabulous! I've always thought I really needed more ads in my life.

watson374

watson374

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

You know what you need more of in your life? Product X! <insert annoying product pitch>

dawesi

dawesi

Virgin Australia

16 Feb 2013

Total posts 16

Receiving ads from beacons is optional, it will be used more for them to track you to see if you're at the gate.

also iBeacons are limited to apple devices, where other bluetooth beacons can be used for all phones.

So iBeacon is dead before it arrives as 3 out of 4 people are buying Samsung (both tablet and phone), 75% of their audience is out of reach with iBeacon... #fail

eminere

eminere

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1117

Really AusBT? Three items of news featuring Google Glass in one day? Outstanding reporting.

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2322

Actually, Eminere, this was the only new item - the other two were updates of earlier stories which happened to go out on the same day, for SEO reasons.

Mal

Mal

14 Jun 2013

Total posts 360

Hey Eminere, as you are clearly an expert in reporting, can you give us a link to your business travel & frequent flyer website? You know, the one that you write every day? I presume it covers plenty of great stories which are free for everybody to read, just like AusBT does, but of course it must have even more 'outstanding reporting'.

dawesi

dawesi

Virgin Australia

16 Feb 2013

Total posts 16

The legislation going through parliment in Aus will severely limit the use of glass anyway in public... so glass is dead in Aus.

AlG

AlG

04 Nov 2010

Total posts 674

I've been reading about this stuff for years now, it's usually been Bluetooth tech, not sure iBeacons are that much of an 'innovation' apart form working with special apps but hey they come from Apple so they must be cool, right?

And the same concerns come up like they did years ago, you'll basicaly become a walking target for ads - coupons, special offers, call them what you will - a person screaming "Spam me, spam me!".

Maybe more people might use Virgin Atlantic's iBeacons if VS did a deal to give them 100 Flying Club miles to activate Bluetooth near the iBeacon checkin and keep it open for 10 minutes?


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