Looking for an awesome airline?

If you’ve followed me for any bit of time on Twitter or Facebook, you know I fly…and I mean fly a LOT (usually once a week).  Rule #1 in flying is to use 1 or 2 airlines regularly so you can keep getting miles and build up for free flights.  Even though I try to stick to that, I also own a small business…which means I’m usually on the hunt for deals on flights so my expenses stay low.

Although I’m still living part-time in Destin, FL (with limited airline options), my other residences in New York and Orlando give me an ample supply of airlines from which to pick.  With another division of our company in California, I also go to the west coast a lot.  Two weeks ago, my wife and I took a little weekend mini-vacation to SoCal (no business on this trip).

I started looking at airlines for the trip and one airline I’d heard a little about was Virigin Airlines.  I hadn’t flown them yet and I was actually under the impression that they only flew to Europe and Australia.  Low and behold, they have a domestic wing of their company that handles US flights.   Although I didn’t have a frequent flyer account with them, I thought I’d give them a shot.   As I searched NY to LA flights on their site, they had a non-stop that was at a reasonable rate.

Here’s another admission…I hate connection flights!  Too many problems can arise…weather in the connection city, flight delays, plane mechanical issues, etc.  So whenever I can, I try to take direct flights. My wife, on the other hand, prefers connection flights so it breaks up the flying time a bit.  Somehow, I convinced bribed her to try this non-stop flight to Los Angeles (see Sushi Sho on previous blog post).

Upon arriving at the tickeing counter, it’s as if you’re in a different VIP wing of the airport. The flat screens showing flight updates and the low purple and neon pink lighting (a theme of the airline as you will see) gives the airline an immediate impact starting at at the ticket counter.  No ticket kiosks here.  All wireless computers.  They have plenty of agents as well so you’re not waiting a long time for someone to help you (if it’s needed).

Ticketing Counter at JFK Airport

Even printing the tickets make you look like you’re rollin’ “baller” status.  It’s a lot smaller than the typical ticket size (looking more like a like concert backstage pass) and it’s printed on a heavier card stock type paper.

Once you start to board the plane, again they keep the theme with the low purple and neon pink color lighting.

I didn’t get a picture of the flight attendants but it’s as if they recruit them from Abercrombrie.  Not one bad looking person worked on either flight I took.  They all seem to love their job as well – no bad attitudes that I could see.

The seats are leather, plush, and have a head rest.  They sell more upgradable seats (with supposedly more legroom and such) but the coach seats are so good, there’s no need to spend more money.  Additionally, each seat has its own individual TV and removable remote control.

The inflight entertainment interface is really easy and there are a ton of options: Movies, Direct TV, XM Radio, Audio Books, Games, chatting with different seats (which Tara and my conversation didn’t last long) and wifi on every plane.

Tara and I's short-lived chat session. Quality conversation going on here 😉

Check out the demo of the inflight entertainment interface:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrQfFnRjjOY]

Before the flight starts, the FAA requires the airlines to give a standard safety spiel.  Most of the bigger airlines are moving away from the LIVE announcements and displaying it on the monitors with pre-recorded videos.  These are usually boring.  I either tune it out or am sending out last minute text messages before I lose signal.  Virgin Airline’s video, however, is HILARIOUS.  It’s as if they hired a sitcom writer and director to put this thing in every day speech and disney cartoonist to create the accompanying images on the screen.  It’s like a more sophisticated Southwest Airlines script.

Here’s what the safety video looks like:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6ixjc5yeMU]

Once the flight starts, they only offer soft drinks complimentary (no snacks).  But ordering food is simple.  You do it all from your TV and pay from there as well.  How about the food options and quality?  Way better than the typical airline.  If I have to pay for food, at least there is value here – healthy and tasty food from which to pick.  After you’ve ordered, they deliver it to you like a server at a restaurant.

The only negative I see with this airline?  They don’t service enough destinations.  On the way there, we flew from JFK to LAX.  On the way back, Tara went back to JFK and I flew this airline to Orlando direct.  Unfortunately, there is no NYC to Orlando or vice versa so I was stuck flying another airline (eventually) home.  I guess they really like to service coast to coast and not too many on the same coasts.

I think my friend Beth said it best: “When you fly Virgin Airlines, you just feel cooler.”  I think  that sums it up perfectly.  I highly recommend this airline to anyone (and no they didn’t pay me for this review).  Tara has actually been converted to a “direct flight” traveler (on this airline only 😉 ).  In doing some research on this airline on YouTube, I ran across 2 videos worth sharing.

Love this commercial:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQ3dEhQusfs]

The airline media event announcing their Palm Springs route.  They throw parties as well as they run their airline.  High class.  Wish I was DJ’ing this party (hopefully soon).
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkN2EjG1_Ek]

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