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Sure, we love all the speed and comfort of modern travel, but it didn't that way overnight. Every Thursday, we're going to take a look back at travel the way it used to be, whether that's decades or centuries ago. This is Throwback Thursday, travel edition.
The year was 1984 and the place was London-Gatwick International Airport. A 747-200 named "Maiden Voyager" taxied on the tarmac for a virgin flight to Newark, on a virgin airline. The airline's name? Virgin, or, well, Virgin Atlantic.
Virgin's flight attendants weren't yet known for their cherry red lips, or their scarlet pencil skirts and chic up-dos, but they were on their way.
Fast forward to today, as Virgin Atlantic continues to fly 747sthe fleet and destination list are much larger nowand they're again ready to show a fresh face with new flight crew uniforms designed by Vivienne Westwood.
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We haven’t heard that much from Virgin Galactic recently, but that doesn’t mean the space ship team hasn’t been hard at work behind the scenes. They’re still doing their very best to ensure that space tourism becomes a reality sooner than later. That’s definitely good, since from what it sounds like, the space flight carrier already has more than a few customers on the books and ready to go.
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two just finished its latest round of testing, and thankfully things all went according to plan. The latest aerial endeavor was known as a "cold flow” test. They haven't lit the rocket engines on this sucker just yet, but it means they've completed pretty much everything else—so that means they’re ready for the next step. The ship’s contrail was even visible for the first time, so now we know how awesome the thing will look like when it blasts away from earth.
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Right now, somewhere in Malaysia, a red skirt is being tailored to fit Sir Richard Branson.
On May 12, Branson will join Air Asia Group CEO Tony Fernandes on a flight from Perth, Australia to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The six-hour trip is a special one, as it's finally the moment Sir Richard makes good on a bet he lost to Fernandes in late 2010, over whose Formula One race team would be ranked higher. Spoiler alert: Fernandes' Lotus Racing team won over over that of Virgin, and the plans to install Branson as a flight attendant on an Air Asia X flight began.
The event has been delayed many times, but finally seats are now for sale from $399 AUD ($420 USD) on the special, one-way flight, and may be purchased online. Be sure to book AirAsia X’s flight D7 237 on Sunday, May 12.
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Remember a couple of years back when Richard Branson lost a bet with Air Asia’s CEO Tony Fernandes, which meant he was going to have to dress up as a female flight attendant? That may not have come to fruitionalthough, according to Fernandes, the time is nighbut he went one step
better worse further early this morning at Scotland's Edinburgh Airport.
Launching Little Red, Virgin Atlantic’s domestic UK service and a major step for the airline, Branson donned a kilt and then dressed down by flashing us.
Kinda like an irreverent Amber Alert, Richard Branson is looking for someone and now all corners of the earth have their eyes peeled for the original Virgin model. One major problem is that identity of said model is a complete mystery.
The model became the face of the brand some 40 years ago, posing for the very first Virgin Records brand logo. Donning nothing but her birthday suit, the 'mystery virgin' became the inspiration for the the drawing which has been tweaked and reworked over the years to reflect a modern twist, now replaced by the current vampy red 'Virgin' word.
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WHat the luxury tents will look like
Share your next vacation with a few wild party animals...or just animals. Richard Branson has just the place for the latter, or both if you're into it! The newest addition to Branson's Virgin Limited Edition Retreats family is Mahali Mzuri in the Kenyan bushlands and it's taking reservations for a summer debut.
The safari grounds, located in the Motorogi Conservancy within the Maasai Mara ecosystem, will play host to travelers looking for the "glamping" experience while staying right on the reserve. 12 luxury tents are poised on the edge of the wildlife sanctuary, and each features an en suite bathroom, a living area, and a front porch for watching zebras and giraffes as you sip tea.
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Forgive the obvious train headline pun.
You wake up and inevitably roll over to check your phone. Emails, Twitter replies (none), and finally Facebook. Based on what you see there, you're going to have your first instinct on calling it a good day or a bad day.
Well, my friends, today's already one of those bad days as the first bit of news we caught was the end of Britain's Virgin Trains. You can read all the details behind the line's impending closure at BusinessWeek, but essentially Virgin Trains rebid to continue running their services on the privatized west coast lineslines they've been running for 15 years at currently 30 million passengers per yearand LOST.
Virgin will continue running until December, when the switch will take place to see Virgin out and UK rail company FirstGroup in. This means the end of slick, red-painted tilting Virgin Pendolinos on routes including London to Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, and Liverpool (our favorite).
Tonight, on Funny or Die's Between Two Ferns! Tina Fey and Zach Galifianakis order room service (tipping 4%), Jon Stewart talks Chris Rock AND Galifianakis discover Bishop Desmond Tutu's phone number, straight from Sir Richard Branson's cell phone (Virgin Mobile, naturally).
Really the magic lies in that Branson segment, where Branson makes his first attempt at stand-up comedy and reveals how much money he actually has. Kinda. Start watching from around 7:40, where Zach introduces Branson with this:
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Leave it to Richard Branson to take on in-flight filmmaking.
Last week the Virgin Group's film and TV company left the studio behind and teamed up with Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia airlines to shoot and edit a half-hour movie aboard several different commercial flights.
Departure Date, which follows a developing romance between two people who meet on a plane, was entirely shot in nine days on previously scheduled flights over three continents, from Los Angeles to London, Dallas-Fort Worth and Sydney, Australia.
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Whoa whoa whoa. Listen to this: Virgin Atlantic just announced that not only have they totally revamped the Upper Class seats and onboard bar, but travelers who belly up to said bar for a nightcap will be greeted by the smiling face of Richard Branson...as an ice cube.
We checked the calendar and it is not April Fool's Day. This is not a drill. Virgin Atlantic is actually going to serve ice cubes made from a mold of Sir Richard's head, sans guillotine. VS explains: "The mould for the ice cubes took a team of four skilled designers a painstaking six weeks to create using detailed photographic techniques and laser scanning technology to create the perfect likeness of Sir Richard."
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Without naming names, we'll just say that some airlines have taken away many of the cushy lounge benefits that come with purchasing a seat at the front of the plane. Specifically we mean free boozeit's rarer than ever in lounges at American airports, but we know a few that will keep the liquor flowing freely, for free. Here's one: the Virgin Atlantic's new Clubhouse at New York-JFK Airport.
In fact, Virgin Atlantic is well known for having quite the comprehensive complimentary bar offerings, some of which we've previously profiledVirgin Redhead, Indian Summer, 'New' New York Sour and Virgin Kiss.
The opening of the new lounge however necessitates a fresh addition. A contest was had and two concoctions emerged victorious: the Big Virgin Apple and Virgin Rose. A quickie taste test by Sir Richard Branson put the Kiss over the Apple, and we chatted up the bartenders to get the recipe.
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Spoiler alert! The new Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at New York's JFK Airport is awesome. We've been in it, sat in its designer chairs, sipped its specialty cocktails, marveled at the tarmac views andyesit's passed the test of "do we want to live here?"
The 10,000-square-foot Clubhouse sprayed the champagne during a grand opening party last night, complete with words from Sir Richard Branson and three unplugged songs from KT Tunstall. Upper Class passengers flying that evening were treated to all the fanfare as well; imagine grabbing a bite and checking your email, then Branson waltzes in and shakes your hand.
Wiping the stars from our eyes, let's get down to business. The new lounge is indeed new; it's not simply a renovation, since the old lounge was before security, in a far less convenient part of JFK Terminal 4. You'll find the fresh space after security, directly upstairs from the Virgin Atlantic gates. No more rushed Virgin Redhead cocktails before making a dash for your flight. If the plane is leaving without you, you'll now be watching it do so directly below. Wave to the pilots!