Industry News

Learning High: Lynda-Virgin America Partnership Continues to Bring eLearning to Travelers

By Cait Etherington
May 02, 2018

In late March, I was flying back to New York City from Los Angeles. After watching one new release and a classic film that probably doesn’t need to remain in circulation, I discovered what I had been missing for the previous five hours of my Virgin America flight: The opportunity to complete Lynda courses in the air. For the past two years, Virgin American has been partnering with Lynda to offer eLearning to travelers, but just as many travelers actually welcome being offline while in flight (this too is coming to an end). Do we really need eLearning in the clouds?

The Virgin America-Lynda Partnership

When Virgin America launched its partnership in March 2016, Ryan Roslansky, VP of Global Consumer Products at LinkedIn, observed, “We’ve all been there as professionals, striving to find new ways to make every minute count and to be as productive as you can be even when you’re in transit. It’s why our partnership with Virgin America makes so much sense as we offer business flyers more ways to easily access and learn new skills that can help them be more successful in their careers – all from the comfort of their Virgin flight.” As an extension to the partnership with LinkedIn, business flyers on Virgin America’s ViaSat-equipped aircraft also have extended access to’s full library of learning content.

Kurt Wagner, writing for Recode at the time of the launch, was somewhat more cynical: “The competition for eyeballs on an airplane is usually pretty weak. The chance to learn a new skill or brush up on stress management may seem more appealing than random episodes of ‘Deadliest Catch’ or ‘Cupcake Wars,’ especially to business travelers.” But how and why did the partnership come about?

While many people have already forgotten, Lynda was once a separate company. But in 2016, Lynda and its large library of training courses were purchased by LinkedIn. To promote Lynda, which LinkedIn purchased for an impressive $1.5 billion, it partnered with Virgin to offer free in-flight videos. When the program first rolled out, however, one actually needed a Lynda account to access the videos, so the partnership was, in fact, a strategic way for LinkedIn to push its newest acquisition. Virgin American, by contrast, did not make any money in the exchange but was able to promote the Lynda courses as yet another courtesy offering to travelers, specifically targeting its business-class market.

What I Learned in the Air

The Lynda courses available free of charge on my flight included, “Overcoming Procrastination,” “How to Present and Stay on Point,” “Asking Great Sales Questions,” and “Finding a Sponsor. “I opted to try out “Overcoming Procrastination,” which I evidently needed to take since I was already wasting my flight watching films on Virgin America’s in-flight entertainment rather than working on my next article.

Despite my high expectations for the course, what I learned was sadly predictable. I learned that while it can be fine to delay beginning a project and even okay to prioritize certain tasks, it is not okay to simply endlessly put off completing certain tasks. My first task was to write down things that I regularly put off completing. The next task was to look for patterns on my procrastination list. Do I avoid certain types tasks? Next, I was asked to generate a list of reasons for stalling. And so the training Lynda training video continued.

Was it helpful? Like many video-based forms of eLearning, my particular Lynda course was far from interactive (although tasks were assigned to me throughout the video) and dated (notably, videos featuring real people often do not age well, since real-life styles tend to change far more rapidly than styles sported by animated characters). While my own experience of the Lynda-Virgin America partnership may not have produced a learning high, after two years, with the partnership now two years old, it seems likely to continue bringing eLearning to travelers around the globe whether they are on the ground or thousands of miles above the earth’s surface.