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Virgin America Gets It

virgin_america_logoIf you spend a lot of time traveling and need to operate your office on the go, I hope you have taken time to read my post about operating a mobile office.  Just as important as having the right tools to do your job is the ability to use those tools, and if you are a frequent traveller you know how difficult this can be, especially on airlines.  Usually your work needs to be done offline which presents a problem if the very nature of your work involves online interaction, like mine does.  The days of being stuck drafting replies to emails is behind, Virgin America Airlines is changing the game and they’re doing it well. The list of amenities includes on board wifi, easy check-in, and a great food and beverage selection; not to mention that they are typically the least expensive airfare available!

Virgin America gets it.  They’ve clearly thought through the travel process and have targeted people like me that are very particular with our wants and needs.  Don’t get me wrong…I’m certainly not a high-brow traveller that needs a lot of extras,but I do need what I consider essentials, and Virgin America has me covered.

  • GoGo wifi service is now offered on all of their flights.  I pay $9.95 for access between LAX and SFO.  The time that I can actually use it in the air is fairly short since the flight is so quick (I think 45 minutes of connectivity is the max since I can’t have my laptop out during take off or landing), but that small fee pays for itself many times over if I’m on the clock for a client.  The service is pretty quick, too!
  • Cheap Upgrades.  If you buy Main Cabin Select or First Class when you book your ticket, you’re going to pay $100-150 more, so here’s a trick for you…wait until you get to the airport to upgrade.  For $25 you can move up to Select or for $50 you’re in First Class.  Either of these let you check luggage for free (otherwise you’re paying $15 a bag) so really you’re just paying $10 or $35 for your upgrade.  Both include free food and drink and plenty of leg room.
  • Excellent atmosphere.  Hipsters and digerati are targeted from start to finish, including (usually) funky music playing at check-in and the gate, great lighting on board the plane and fun, friendly staff on the ground and in the air. The best part is that professionalism is not sacrificed for atmosphere, and they manage to combine both nicely.
  • Virgin America offers in-flight wifi and boasts an incredible entertainment system

    Virgin America offers in-flight wifi and boasts an incredible entertainment system

    In Flight Entertainment.  Each seat back (or pop-up in First Class) is equipped with an LCD screen that offers movies, live TV, radio and pre-loaded music.  It also allows you to order food, watch the plane’s progress via Google Maps or chat with your neighbors on the plane.  It’s a great system and runs on a Linux platform (I saw it boot up once and had to include that fact for my ultra-geeky readers).

  • Very active with social media. I think most of the interaction comes via Twitter, and they are extremely responsive.  Although I haven’t had any interaction with them personally (AdventureGirl tells me I just missed them at the 140Smiles party IRL), this is incredibly important for companies and Virgin gets it.  They answer questions, chat with people that mention them from the air, and offer traveling tips.  I’m very happy to see Virgin embracing this, and doing it so well!

The bottom line for Virgin America is this: because they get it, my travel experience is pleasant and my productivity skyrockets. I can choose to work or play on the airplane, or just relax and enjoy an Absinthe, which they have recently added to their line-up of already amazing amenities.  The cities in which they offer service is still limited compared to other carriers but it is expanding, and they cover most of the major cities in the U.S. right now. If you are lucky enough to need to travel within their service area, make sure to give them a try…I think you’ll be very pleasantly surprised at their level of commitment to you as a customer.  As their Twitter bio says, it’s time to make flying good again!

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By Matt Singley

Personal: husband to Alison, father to four amazing kids. I used to live a fast but enjoyable life in Los Angeles, now I have chickens on acreage in Charlotte, North Carolina. Just a bit different. I'm an advocate for cycling as much as you can and eating as cleanly as you can afford. Professional: I'm the CEO of Singley + Mackie, a creative digital agency that serves well-known lifestyle and entertainment companies around the world. Clients include Microsoft, Samsung, Hulu, YP and others. If you want to find the more-professional me, go to http://singleymackie.com