In the first part of this blog, I discussed Virgin America’s airline perks and speculated whether or not they’d live up to the high expectations once I traveled with them. Here, I’ll reveal my findings! Drumroll, please…
Flying Virgin America was everything that it was hyped up to be. They did, in fact, make flying fun again! It was the least stressful flight experience I have ever had.
So, how did they make ME — the customer (who is the reason the economic pistons pump) — feel like I am important?
First of all, Virgin allowed me to pick my seat and check in at a kiosk without having to stand in line. They had a representative standing by to assist us with any questions or concerns. My group and I weren’t able to get seats together, so we decided to try our luck at the counter instead in case there was something we weren’t seeing. My thoughts were a little uneasy, because usually anyone working in an airport has an annoyed, militant, “get away from me” look on their face. However, we walked right up to the counter, and what do you know…we got service with a smile AND they were able to find us seats together in the emergency exit row! They even piped in some fresh beats out of their computers to make us feel like rock stars.
Then, instead of trying to force my bag into the luggage rack to see if would fit, a Virgin rep was standing by to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Mine just barely made it, and all the lady said was, “Oooh, you are very good! Don’t worry.” Whew!
When we got to our terminal, it was very relaxed and low-key. Due to the fullness of our flight, Virgin offered passengers the option to check their luggage for free and board early in exchange for the mild inconvenience (many people took them up on this offer and seemed thrilled). The terminal had everything we needed, including a station where we could buy a pair of FLASHY $2 headphones (each in a My Little Pony assortment of colors) for the trip. While we boarded the plane, we were greeted with smiling faces and totally swank purple mood lighting! Immediately, I felt at ease!
You haven’t seen anything yet! Virgin Airlines’ real fun begins once you are aboard the plane. When I was seated, I noticed a small touch screen in front of me and that was already on and free to use as soon as I was ready. Virgin made it so cool for passengers to have their very own in-flight personal entertainment systems at the fingertips! I wasn’t forced to watch whatever bland movie the airline chose; instead, I watched all of Thursday’s NBC line-up and a Big Bang Theory marathon! Not to mention, I could have purchased a new movie off a huge list they had! There were plenty of music videos and channel after channel of entertainment. Plus, I could do seat-to-seat chat with another Virgin passenger using the provided remote/keypad (all I needed was the seat number).
As if that wasn’t enough, Virgin also provided us with the option to see exactly where we were on a map — throughout the entire trip. Hitting the “Map” button on the touch screen took me to a map of the United States, complete with a plane icon to track the progress of the flight. I could see how fast the plane was going, the altitude, the remaining mileage, and even the outside temperature. So cool!
Now, on to the take off. You know the standard demonstration videos we’re required to watch before we fly? The ones you’d swear were filmed in the 1980s and still played on a worn VHS tape? They’re usually so lame and boring. Well, Virgin kicked butt at entertaining passengers with this as well! I never thought it possible to make a demonstration/emergency preparedness video funny, but it was! It is small details like this that definitely set them apart from all other airlines. Take a look for yourself:
I’ve never seen a demo video like that on other airlines I’ve flown with! Another thumbs up.
And, last but not least, Virgin delivered as promised on the refreshments. Are you ever annoyed by the food and drink cart constantly cruising by and blocking your one path to the bathroom? Virgin made things easy. We were allowed to place our drink and food orders as soon as the plane took off, and I could still order as many beverages I wanted (I had to pay for them after my free beverage, though). They only brought the drink cart by once, which meant clearer paths to the restroom. Regardless of having to pay for food and drinks, there was no delay. I typically don’t splurge on these types of things, but they made it so easy that I couldn’t help but get sucked in. If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve sworn I was being served in first class because I received my glasses of wine as soon as I ordered them!
Virgin has taken a normally mundane experience and turned it into a really fun option for travelers! I certainly felt that Virgin America made me, the consumer, feel important. By redesigning the flight experience with ALL passengers in mind (not just first class), I felt like I was really on vacation…starting with the flight!
So, because of all the things I’ve mentioned, Virgin America gets 10 out of 10 outstanding points for their commitment to creating a great flight experience! Perhaps you can apply the attention to detail that Virgin does to your business! Here’s how:
Give Your Clients Choices — Virgin allows passengers to choose their seats at a self-serve kiosk or by speaking with a real person. They provide a large number of refreshment choices as well as hours of entertainment. Choices are good! Give people an option and they’ll feel more at ease (not to mention, they’ll feel like they’re in control of the situation).
Find Out What Drives People Crazy — Most airlines force passengers to watch a one-size-fits-all program and a boring instructional video, block the bathrooms with food carts, and make people feel like they’re on a prison ship — but not Virgin! Discover what your customers hate about the competition and then find a way to deliver the opposite.
Deliver What You Promise — Common sense, I know. But it’s a necessary strategy if you want people to buy what you’re selling. Don’t make a million promises you can’t keep; instead, try making a handful of promises that you CAN keep! And then…deliver.
Have you ever flown with Virgin Airlines? Did you also immensely enjoy your experience? Let me know what you think!
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