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Virgin Airlines: Is the Experience All It’s Cracked Up to Be? Part 1

I am not much of a flyer and I have never enjoyed an airline experience. Soon I will be jetting off to California for a trip and, as usual — I dread the flying bit.

Only, this time, my flying anxiety has somewhat lessened after booking a ticket on a Virgin America plane. I have never flown with Virgin, and I’m anxious to see what all the hubbub is about. Their advertisements always amp up what a great experience it is, and there are countless rave reviews about this airline, so I am excited to see for myself.

It is actually quite interesting to me to see how Virgin has become such a huge success and what they are doing right as far customer service and satisfaction.

So, what supposedly sets Virgin apart from all the other airlines?

Virgin Airline: In-Flight Entertainment

Virgin Airline: In-Flight Entertainment

In-Flight Entertainment: According to their site, they have a gargantuan list of special perks available on board — including a touch-screen list of movies, satellite television, premium TV, music videos, and video games — all of which you can watch at your discretion. Also, no matter what you choose to occupy your time, you can watch it on your very own touch screen right in front of your seat. You can also make a personal music playlist and jam away as you cruise across the sky. So, if you have ever had an airline experience like some of mine (where you are stuck in a stuffy cabin, being forced to watch a random rom-com on a faded, aged screen you can barely see and hear), then perhaps you might rethink Virgin as an option!

Virgin Airline: Food and Drink Options

Virgin Airline: Food and Drink Options

Food and Drink Options: If in-flight entertainment isn’t enough to sway your vote, then perhaps you’ve been annoyed by an airline’s food and soda cart that is constantly in the way (but somehow always out of reach). Well, Virgin Airlines says they have this covered as well. They have a giant list of food items and drinks that you order with your personal touch screen, which the attendant will bring to you to limit the amount of traffic and clutter. I don’t know about you, but this is radically different from any other airline experience I’ve had; usually, not only does my food takes forever to get to me, but it is always wrong and cold. Also, with most airlines, you are out of luck if you go to the bathroom and miss the drink cart that you waited an hour for. However, per Virgin, you can have countless drinks and alcoholic beverages (you have to pay after your first one, though…shucks). To make matters easier, there is no need to carry cash because all you have to do is swipe your card once from your seat, place your order, and in moments you have your refreshment!

Virgin Airline: Giving Back to the World

Virgin Airline: Giving Back to the World

Giving Back to the World: To top it all off, Virgin doesn’t stop at self-serving conveniences. Apparently the airline also allows you to help the world while helping yourself, because customers have an eco-friendly option that allows them to give back to humanity without having to leave their seats. Virgin has listed donation registries on each touch screen for Carbonfund.org (to eliminate your carbon foot print from flying), as well as worthy organizations like cancer funds, animal welfare causes, and foundations that help the homeless. How many airlines do that? None that I am aware of.

Talk about INNOVATION! I can only hope that all this is just as wonderful as it sounds! If so, I can see how they have built such a wonderful customer base and kept it. Hopefully I can report back and say that more businesses could learn a thing or two from Sir Richard Branson (Virgin’s founder) and his towering success! I guess I truly will find out if it is in fact “A Breath of Fresh Airline,” as they say.

Is the Virgin Airlines experience really one to remember, or is it just really good advertising? Stay tuned for Part Two, because I’ll have a full report after I actually travel with Virgin!

Have you ever flown with Virgin Airlines? Are you one of the many satisfied customers out there who can attest to its awesomeness? Or is this a clever ploy?

Image credit to Thomas Hawk, su-lin, Deanster1983, and juicyrai.


Serenity Morris

Serenity is on the support staff for Quality Logo Products. Cynical and straight to the point, this no-nonsense gal is loveable and passionate about her various nerdy interests. When she is not geeking out about music, British television, and politics she is usually doodling her troubles away! Her artistic abilities are often commissioned for internal and external QLP promotional materials. You can also connect with Serenity on Google+.

Comments

  1. Alex Brodsky

    I’ve never been lucky enough to travel on Virgin, but I’ve had many friends who have and they all gush about how awesome of an airline it is. I’m super-jealous you’re flying it before me (out to my second home of Los Angeles).

    The touch screen entertainment sounds great (especially their wi-fi internet access) but the order service for the drink cart is a PHENOMENAL IDEA! I’ve always wanted refills, or a second drink, but never known if I could just walk right up to the attendants and get one. I was always too shy/awkward to do it, so I’d travel cotton-mouthed and unfulfilled.

    So to sum up, I’m jealous.

    • Cybernetic SAM

      haha I know what you mean, I am always so tense and anxious and unsure what to do once on a plane, so with the supposed mood lighting on board perhaps I feel a little more at ease with my worries etc…

  2. Candice J.

    This actually sounds like a great flying experience if they live up to their claims. My parents are going to fly them in the next few months as well so I’m looking forward to hearing feedback from people I personally know. If it is as great as it seems I am more than willing to book a flight with them because my family travels every year. Anything I can do to maximize our comfort, I’m all for it! Great Job, Sam.

    P.S.-I’m pretty jealous too!

    • Cybernetic SAM

      Thanks! Well so far all the reviews in my research are all pretty positive ones and unless they pay people after flying with them with hush money, I am pretty sure they live up to all the hype. My luck though, I will be one of the 1st people to have a negative experience. I hope not though, I will as you say just think positive! :)

  3. Jaimie Smith

    This sounds like an awesome airline. I flew last year to Vegas and was not very pleased with the airline. Very cramped and ended up sitting with two people I did not know. I am pretty sure it was just a cheaper airline, which is fine–I didn’t pay for the ticket so I guess I really shouldn’t complain. But next time I go I should consider taking Virgin.
    Have fun! Can’t wait to hear about your trip!

    • Cybernetic SAM

      Yeah that is typical of my experiences as well. Which is the very reason I hate flying I am miserable when I have to, but I am truly anxious to see how awesome it is to fly with them. I have never been excited to fly like I am with them, who knows maybe I’ll become a lifetime customer!

  4. Jeff Porretto

    Well now I want to fly somewhere just to try it out! I’m pretty sure that’s what Virgin is going for. My trip to Italy was so jam packed and uncomfortable that I got up and stood in the bathroom for about 20 minutes. Not doing anything at all. This seems like the complete 180 of that experience and might make it actually FUN instead of something you just try to get through.

    Looking forward to part 2!

    • Cybernetic SAM

      I know, like what I was just saying earlier, I feel like I am more discouraged from flying anywhere cuz it always sucks. So maybe if this is a good experience I will be motivated to go more places. Keep your fingers crossed!

  5. Amy Swanson

    Okay, I’m the last person to ask about flying. I hate flying with a deep passion. The last few times I’ve flown I’m pretty sure I had panic attacks, so I’ve just avoided it all together. I really enjoy driving anyways.

    However, Virgin Airlines sounds really cool! I’ve only flown United, Southwest, and ATA (I don’t even know if they’re around anymore or not- haha), but nothing compares to what you’ve described. I’d love to have complete control over what I’m watching instead of also having to sit through a “random rom-com on a faded, aged screen you can barely see and hear”. Ugh. Hate that!

    I can’t wait to hear how your flying experience with them actually goes! I hope they live up to the hype :)

    • Cybernetic SAM

      Me too! I am a lot like you. I love to travel but I hate flying. So I also hope that this will go well. Trust me you will be the first to know! :)

  6. Mandy Kilinskis

    I haven’t flown on Virgin before. I wanted to when I head to NYC next month, but they don’t fly from Chicago to New York – curses! With all of these amazing options for in-flight entertainment and food and charity, they do sound like a “Breath of Fresh Airline.”

    Definitely looking forward to hearing about your experience!

  7. Joseph Giorgi

    I’m anxious to find out whether Virgin can actually deliver on all of the perks you’ve mentioned here. If so, I’m sure it’ll be one heck of an enjoyable flight — which is certainly a rare thing. Seems like the airline is the best thing to happen to airlines in quite a while. I’m pretty jealous. ;)

    • Cybernetic SAM

      You should be! but if you are good, I will take you on the airplane, deal? In all seriousness though I agree, I really hope they live up to what they make themselves out to be. It is weird it doesn’t seem often you come across anyone who has flown with them, but everyone has all heard all the good things about it.

  8. Jill Tooley

    I can’t wait to fly with them! That lighting looks incredible, and the options are blowing my mind. If they truly are as good as the hype, then I have a feeling other airlines will need to step up their game to keep up!

    • Cybernetic SAM

      I totally agree! This is a step that I feel airlines haven’t taken since the early years of commercial flying. It is like most airlines became like the greyhound buses of the sky, cramped, stuffy and uncomfortable. Now Virgin seems to be reverting things to be all about the passenger again! Needless to say I never thought I would be excited about flying!

  9. Jen

    I bet they make a lot more money with the self order/pay option on the touch screen. I have never ordered anything from the snack/beverage cart because it’s such a hassle, just give me my complementary peanuts and water and leave me alone. But this feature seems easy and painless. Great post Sam! I look forward to flying with them in a couple weeks, and hope it’s as good as it sounds.

    • Cybernetic SAM

      I know I am silent sufferer, I have even been skipped on a plane when it was time to get water etc… and I didn’t know what to do so I just sat there and I was miserable 4 hours with recirculated air and nothing to drink is terrible. So needless to say I was delighted to read how they handle this, and I too am excited!

  10. Rachel

    Great post, Sam! I hope your flight is a good one. :) I’m curious — since it seems like such a great airline, why is it not a more popular one? Do they not fly out of many airports? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Virgin terminal at the airport before, and you’re the first person I know who has flown Virgin (as far as I’m aware). If it’s just a matter of lack of flights/terminals, I hope the company continues expanding into more places so that all of us can experience their customer service on a regular basis!

    • Cybernetic SAM

      I think you are right, I think O’hare just opened their Virgin terminal last year or so, it is relatively new at a lot of airports. But it seems to be doing well. I like so far how their prices are low, I think my plane ticket was about $80 each way and that is awesome! Not to mention how psyched they have me for trying this whole thing out!

  11. Eric

    Interesting post, Sam!

    S’long as they’ve got Ginger Ale… so God help them if they don’t have Ginger Ale. It all sounds pretty darn nice, but the only question that keeps coming to mind begs to ask if a touch-screen interface is the best choice for mass transit. I mean, if they’ve got cleaning folks coming through after each flight, and wiping them clean, awesome. If not, Windex. And Purel. Lots and lots of Purel.

    • Cybernetic SAM

      I agree on all accounts. I might just bring some surgical gloves, I hope that doesn’t seem weird to the airline workers. Ginger Ale is the tops, if they don’t have it we are gonna have a problem, that will most definitely be a mark against them!

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