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17 August 2009 @ 12:02 am
review of virgin atlantic and compared to American airlines  
When I flew to LA last week I got the oppertunity to compare Virgin America to American Airlines. It was quite dramatic.

Virgin definately seemed to be putting the customer first. Both staff were friendly, but virgin seemed to be putting that little extra bit of curtousy and information forward. Virgin did, however, try to sell their upgrades pretty hard. As an example of their differences in attitude, virgin realized that the flight was pack and asked for volenteers to gate check their carry ons in exchange for earlier boarding. AA simply announced half way through boarding that they were gate checking remaining carry ons and started taking them out of people's hands.

Virgin had a humorous safety video, "for those .01% of you who don't know how to use a seat belt..." but it was followed by a commerical. I guess this cuts down on costs, and I'm willing to sit through it, but I'm getting kind of tired of never being able to escape advertising when not at home.

Virgin had TVs in every seat. From that TV you could watch a nice selection of shows for free, order food, play old video games (like doom, with seat to seat conductivity), chat seat to seat and see a map of where the plane was, altitude and ground speed. You could also buy better programming. You could remove a remote from the arm rest that had a full QWERT keyboard. Payment could be made with a credit card swiped in the bottom of the TV. The angle could be adjusted for more comfortable viewing.

AA had tube television common to the whole plane. The one I could most easily see was distorted so that it was stretched at the top and compressed at the bottom. This made Howie Mandell on Deal or No Deal look like a cone head. I was wishing for the seat to seat chat, since my friends were way in the back and it would have been so nice to talk with them.

Both had standard 1/8" jacks, which is good.

Virgin's plane was nice a new. They had "mood lighting" which I'm still not sure what I think about. The seats in coach were leather, with adjustable head rests, both up and down and in how they craddled your head.

AA's seats were standard. They provided free blanket and pillow, which was good, since my window seat was aquiring ice and I had to use the pillow and blanket to insulate myself from the wall.

On Virgin I ordered the $6 snack, which had salami, dried apircots, apple crips (so good!), crackers and cheese and gummi bears. These all had just a bit of class, such as organic gummi bears and vermont aged cheddar cheese spread such that I really enjoyed the food and felt I'd gotten my $6. They mentioned in the menu no HFCS or peanuts in the snack. The other selections sounded very yummy as well. The in seat ordering was also nice, since the food just appeared moments after I entered it into the screen.

If I need to fly again, I will definitely try to choose virgin. Their price was competative and they had wifi for sale if it had been a very long flight. They're kind of new, so they may be trying very hard to get a good word of mouth going and then the quality will drop or the price will rise, but I hope not. For right now, I highly recommend them.

Separate from all this, the paranoia in the airports was appauling. I don't think I went 10 feet without seeing a pair of police officers in logan. I find taking of my shoes so humiliating. Especially since it's all just silly.
katybeth on August 17th, 2009 05:15 am (UTC)
Thanks for the writeup.
Binkbinkbink on August 17th, 2009 05:28 pm (UTC)
Sounds like they found some ways to make the customer feel important without adding a lot of cost overall. The thing about the luggage, for instance, cost them a tad more time for the auction, but maybe less so because the folks who self selected didn't need time to rescue vitals from their carry-on.
The snack probably cost them only pennies more to make it one with perceived quality.
The TVs in the seats are expensive, but maybe they will pay for themselves with a few full planes that might not have been full otherwise.
Overall, it sounds like a great recommendation.
The bogus security sucks and essentially treats the millions of customers like criminals in the hope of detecting the one nut case who will outsmart them anyway, but Virgin did their best to make the rest of your flight a service instead of an ordeal.

Beware the airlines that leave folks on the tarmac for 9 hours http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32361238/ without toilets, food, water, air conditioning, and the like. I bet Virgin would never let that happen.
The Renaissance Manunixronin on August 26th, 2009 03:34 am (UTC)
Richard Branson Gets It™.

TSA? Pure security theater. The FBI periodically "probes" TSA security, and 65% of their probes succeed.
Of course, you'll never hear that reported on the nightly news. Hey, look, a comet!