November 9, 2007

like a virgin

My recent trip up to San Francisco gave me another chance to fly Virgin America (with fares of $49, its even a big reason the trips even happen). I booked them the first time without even realizing they were brand new, and I can see some added improvements since that first flight. The planes are still every bit as nice - their attention to things like music and lighting in addition to the leather seats and glossy white surfaces make a big difference in the user experience. From checkin to touchdown, everything is casual and comfortable, but sharp and professional, with a constant nod to good design. Its the ipod experience of airlines. The outlets are now installed to plug your laptop into. The safety video is the most creative I've seen, though bordering on a little too cute. One little detail I noticed on the flight back were the cup holders - something I've noticed on overseas flights, but never on domestic ones (and never understood why). Such a little thing, but awfully nice to not have to have your tray table down in order to hold your drink. Several services still say "coming soon", including email and text messaging on "Red", their inflight entertainment service. Yet when we landed and I turned on my phone, it asked to connect to a wifi network called "secretva1," so obviously they have wifi set up and ready once FCC gives approval in 2008. Virgin America makes JetBlue feel old and stale, and Southwest feel downright primitive. Hopefully their attention to service will force other airlines to follow suit, without forcing Virgins prices to become too high. For now, they're definitely my first choice when flying to any cities they serve, because they've made flying feel new and fun again. Thats no small feat, but it fits their name well.

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