Google just announced that it is teaming up with Virgin America to allow passengers to “test-fly” the search giant’s new Chromebook computers for free. Virgin passengers will be able to use the computers onboard their flight and at select airport gates from July 1 through September 30, 2011.
As an incentive, flyers who check out a Chromebook will receive a free WiFi session onboard Virgin America. Virgin says that at airport gates in San Francisco, Chicago O’Hare, Boston and in Dallas-Fort Worth will include Google “Chrome Zone” lounges starting this week, where passengers can learn more about the Chromebook and check one out for their flight. Google is also partnering with the Ace Hotel in New York to offer Chromebooks in hotel guests’ rooms.
Travelers will have to pony up their credit card info (for deposit purposes) and will then receive a Chromebook for use on their flights between SFO and DFW, ORD or BOS. he Chromebooks can be returned at the guest’s arriving gate. And Google Chrome Staff will also be on hand at the participating Virgin America gates to assist passengers.
This seems to be an extension of an existing marketing relationship between Google and Virgin America. Google has actually partnered with Virgin for the past two years to offer passengers free in-flight WiFi around the holidays. As part of last year’s partnership, Google was peddling its browser Chrome to travelers.