Wednesday, August 8, 2007

American's Are About To Get The Chance To Take A Ride On A Virgin!

Are you tired of airlines (besides Southwest because I love 'em) that offer you no frills and long delays? Looking for an airline that combines low fares and fun?
How about an airline with 3000 MP3s onboard every flight, 110v power at every seat, fresh food when you want it, from the screen at your seat and how about an in-flight entertainment system that has over 25 pay-per-view Hollywood movies on demand. A lot of other airlines don't want to see this new startup enter the marketplace and as for the other airlines out there, "you can't blame them for being a little worried."

Yes folks, Virgin America airlines (, is the latest venture of British entrepreneur Richard Branson, and will offer service Wednesday between Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco. A red carpet event is planned at LAX to inaugurate the service, which will offer fares as low as $44 one-way for coach and $149 first-class and include in-flight entertainment systems. "As the only California-based airline, our goal is to provide top-notch service at low fares," said CEO Fred Reid.

Five daily flights will be offered between LAX and San Francisco and two flights between San Francisco and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Service between LAX and New York will start at $129 coach and $389 first class each way, is set to begin Aug. 29. Inaugural flights will include live entertainment and celebrities at 35,000 feet. The airline will auction tickets for the event to support KIPP – the Knowledge Is Power Program, a network of free, open-enrollment college preparatory public schools for underserved communities.

According to Virgin America, the new planes will have custom-designed leather seats, mood lighting and an entertainment system that features on-demand movies, TV, games, music and online chat rooms. Passengers will be able to order food or chat with other passengers from their own video screen. Currently the airline has 400 employees and expects to have 1,000 new jobs in its first year and up to 5,000 employees within five years. It expects to serve 10 cities within the first year of operations and up to 30 cities within five years.

As CEO for the U.S.-based start-up airline, Fred Reid, Virgin's CEO has the rare privilege of starting with a clean canvas to create a fresh and consumer-driven new airline since he has held executive roles with four of the world's biggest airlines over three decades. It's safe to say, however, that he's most excited about the great opportunities his fifth airline brings. Twenty-five years of airline management experience have landed him at the helm of Virgin America. Like Branson's control over his other businesses, he is overseeing all strategic and operational facets of Virgin America - everything from the choice of wine and video games on board to the airline's network, distribution and tech ops strategies. And, he maintains a career-long commitment to creating an engaged team through frequent, open communications and information-sharing throughout the organization and an "open door" policy. He has long been an advocate of change and innovation in the airline industry. With Virgin America, his goal is to launch an airline with low fares yet high consumer value, that exemplifies great customer service and that is professional, but doesn't take itself too seriously.

Not that I want competition to my friends at Southwest, but I think this could be a good thing. If Branson's history says anything, it should be a darn good airline. I think it's time that more airlines get on-board with the way SWA and Virgin are doing business. Make it fun for the customer. If you have a good product, then people will use it. SWA has been doing it for years and their people are great. Just watch that TV show "Airline!" Good luck Sir Richard, I wish you the best. Any chance of flying into Albany, NY?

My only question is this: Who will be the first "Virgin" to join the mile high club? Hmmmmm. Hello Paris? Oh that's right, you made a video. You're out. Nicole? Nope, you're knocked up. Heck, I'm running out of bimbo celebrities!