Courses & TravelMarch 8, 2009

Maiden Voyage On Virgin

I think you know by now, I usually fly American Airlines. I have Platinum status (over 50,000 miles in one year), which allows me to board early and get regular upgrades. I'm also a member of the American Airlines Admirals Club, which is the lounge in the airport that gets you access to power for your electronics, food, drinks and some sense of peace in an otherwise chaotic setting. I've decided to be loyal to American because when I'm on the plane American has a little more leg space than other airlines and they have power outlets under most of the seats, which can be helpful if you have a weak laptop battery, like I do. They also have the flights that work for me when I want to see family in San Diego, San Francisco or Hawaii.

Recently I've been making a lot of flights to the Southeast. American doesn't offer me a lot of options to get there and back to New York, so I've also joined Delta's frequent flier program. I haven't had any reportable travel troubles on Delta--yet.

Today I'm making my first trip on Virgin America, the airline who's majority owner is Richard Branson. I've heard Virgin offers a "different" travel experience. I've heard, like JetBlue, it's an airline with a focused effort to treat the customer with the attention they deserve.

Virginamerica

I can confirm the rumors. I'm on a slick new plane, modern seats, decent leg room in coach, TV/movies/games on the back of every seat and a power outlet you can plug into without needing an adapter. In the picture you get a hint of the moody blue and purple cabin-lighting. For the third time in the last year or so, I also have in-flight wireless provided by Gogo (the first two times were on New York to San Diego flights on American Airlines). As of December of last year, wireless has been available on the following routes on Virgin America:__

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-Seattle to Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. __

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__-San Francisco to____Los Angeles,____Las Vegas,__New York and Washington____DC. __

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__-Los Angeles to Seattle,__New York and Washington____DC. __

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-Las Vegas to____San Francisco and____New York.

I read that the goal is to have the service available on all flights by the end of the year. I paid $12.95 for unlimited use on this flight. For flights less than three hours, it will cost you $9.95.

The act of travel can be turbulent. On this flight it has been a bumpy ride in the air, but a smooth trip in general. I hope that becomes the norm on all airlines and not the exception.

Now I'm going back to transcribing a recent interview with Tom Fazio, sending the occasional e-mail while I monitor my Facebook page and watch CNN. Times on planes, trapped with only your thoughts, a book (or the latest issue of Golf Digest!) and the chatty boob seated next to you, they are a changin'.

--Matty G.

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