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Virgin America / Airlines / Airline News / In-Flight WiFi / WiFi / In-Flight Entertainment / → All Tags
Great news for travelers aboard Virgin America: The carrier has given the go-ahead to introduce better, faster, stronger Wi-Fi throughout the cabin. Now your emails and sites will load speedier than ever — and even more importantly, the bandwidth will now allow for you to stream video from 35,000-feet.
The airline is updating around ten Airbus A320s through a partnership with ViaSat, a provider of satellite broadband. According to Fortune, the upgrade will rely on "the use of ViaSat-1, a high capacity Ka-band satellite service that offers speeds of up to 140 gigabits-per-second, [which] could make Virgin’s Wi-Fi eight to ten times faster than your garden variety inflight networks." (Virgin America seems to take pride in its in-flight Wi-Fi access; they're still the only carrier providing access on each and every flights.)
When will the enhanced speeds hit the seats? Expect faster Wi-Fi service to go live as soon as September. Let the YouTube cat videos commence!
Travel News / Virgin America / Virgin America RED / In-Flight Entertainment / Airplanes / Airlines / → All Tags
Fast forward eight years and Virgin America is now showing off a crazy-cool update to Red. Here's the official word from their blog.
Taking off on three of our aircraft this month, we are launching new, higher resolution, capacitive touch monitors as well as a new Red Beta platform built on Android-based software that allows us to make faster improvements in the short-term to our in-flight entertainment platform – and in the long-term, will make it possible for us to further connect, personalize and expand Red in entirely new ways.
Let's break that down for you: You'll be able pinch and swipe on the seatback TV, much like you do on your tablets or phones; you'll also get three times more content (including Seasons 1 and 2 of "Orange is the New Black, priced at $5 for four episodes); and some really cool features like expanded Google Maps, retro video games such as Pac-Man and surround sound simulation from Dysonic, which allows passengers with any sort of headphone to hear a "surround sound" effect from the comfort of their seat.
Virgin is also excited about this new platform because they think it be easier to innovate the system even further. We're not even sure how much further they can take this. But that's probably why we're not working on Red.
We'll be on the lookout for the new Red system on our next Virgin America flight but if you get a chance to try it out, let us know what you think
However, today, they have announced REAL new flights from San Francisco to Maui and Honolulu. Whee!
Even better, Virgin America says the flights will be on new Airbus A320 jets that they are expected to receive later this year. New routes, new planes, new reasons for a Hawaii vacation.
We got so excited by the thought or riding a moon-lit Virgin America plane to paradise, we immediately headed over to Virgin America to start the booking process but our roll was slowed down by the fact that the new service won't start until November 2. That's for daily round-trip flights to Honolulu, starting at $199 one-way. The flights to Maui will begin on December 3. Because that's prime holiday vacation time, the rates are rather insane. There are a few flights at $199 one-way, but most of the flights are going for $782 in mid and late-December. Yes, that's one-way.
And of course, these new routes only serve the folks in the Bay Area, and people who fly themselves to the Bay Area, not Los Angeles which is another big market for Hawaii flights. But perhaps if all goes well, both San Francisco and Los Angeles will get lei'd by next year.
[Photo: Virgin America/Facebook]
Travel Contests / Film Festivals / Events / Virgin America / Dallas Travel / DIFF / Free Stuff / Videos / BLAH Airlines / → All Tags
Here's the thing. Virgin America's April Fool's prank of starting flights to Branson, MO already happened, so this next announcement can't be another prank (even if sounds like one).
The airline, which last year introduced a 5-hour, 45-minute film of a "BLAH Airlines" flight from Newark to San Francisco, is taking the film to a real film festival, with a prize component!
The film, a fictional (albeit strikingly realistic) portrayal of the interminably boring transcontinental flights of legacy airlines like United, has garnered over 814,000 views and actual film reviews; we even named it the Best Viral Travel Video of 2014. Now, the lengthy feature will show on April 10 as part of the Dallas International Film Festival, and the airline is seeking audience members.
April Fool's Jokes / Virgin America / Sir Richard Branson / Branson Travel / Missouri Travel / → All Tags
The pranksters at Virgin America have tried to dupe us a day early with an April Fool's gag, but we aren't having any of it.
An email sent this morning to members of the airline's loyalty program, Elevate, "announced" new flights from LA, San Francisco and New York to Branson, Missouri, best known for the World's Largest Toy Museum and its many off, off, off, way off, off-Broadway shows. In a stroke of faux marketing genius, the town also shares the same name with Virgin's own Sir Richard Branson.
Here's how Virgin positioned their totally fake new route:
We recognize that we’re probably a little bit greedy when it comes to our in-flight entertainment needs. First there were movies—maybe just on one screen—but soon we wanted more choices, our own screens, and maybe even some live television as well. We moved onto WiFi as well, but apparently the traveling public is looking for more and more when it comes to up in the air distractions.
Thankfully higher education has heard our complaints, as online courses are the latest option to be streaming at 35,000-feet. JetBlue was one of the first carriers to kick things off, as late last year they started offering excerpted streaming lectures and learning from the folks over at Coursera—think business classes, music lessons, and other academic awesomeness.
Virgin Hotels officially opened their doors to guests in Chicago yesterday and our sister site, HotelChatter, has the first look inside a Virgin guest room, excuse us, chamber for those visiting Chi-town. But if you were expecting to find a replica of a Virgin America airplane, complete with purple mood lighting and singing and dancing employees, you might be disappointed.
The historic building on Wabash has been done over into a very Virgin property, with lots of bright red touches everywhere, from the red tiles in the shower to the red SMEG mini fridge in the chambers, and the bright red coats worn by the lovely lady greeters at the entrance.
And even though the hotel is an American company, there are quite a few tributes to its British heritage--like the London Bridge depicted on the chamber rugs, the Birds and Blokes signs for the bathroom, the bright red telephone booth that serves as the hostess station at the not-yet-opened Miss Ricky's All-American Diner and the Union Jack on the dog bed at check-in. And for some reason, the chamber bed reminds us of Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic.
There's even a wall devoted to Sir Richard Branson in the 203 Coffee Bar (opening in a few weeks) and the history of his Virgin multimedia company, featuring photographs of Branson and his various companies, including Virgin Cola. (RIP.)
While the staff is incredibly happy and relaxed, no one has busted out a robot rap...yet. So if we're talking airlines here, Virgin Hotels feel more Virgin Atlantic than Virgin America but at the end of the day, Virgin Chicago actually wants to be a hub for locals.
Airline Love / Do Not Do / Virgin America / American Airlines / Delta Airlines / Delta Bear Bag / → All Tags
In the spirit of New Years' Resolutions, we're choosing to be filled with love and light when it comes to airlines. So instead of focusing on the terrible TSA theater, the crappy meals served in-flight, the nickel-and-diming onboard, the exasperated attitudes at the gate or the rampant idiocy in the baggage claim, we're focusing on airlines and flight attendants doing it right. No, we don't anticipate this lasting all year but we'll try to last a month.
1. THE NEXT TIME YOU THINK IT'S TOO COLD OUT, THINK ABOUT THIS GUY
Jaunted Travel Awards 2014 / The Jauntys / Airline Ads / Virgin America / Videos / Travel Ads / BLAH Airlines / → All Tags
It's that time of the year again, the time when the year just plain ends. Alas, we can't just let 2014 go that easily, especially since travelers spent it both up in the air and up in arms over a crazy range of topics. Now we take a brief look back at the best and worst of 2014 with the Jaunted Travel Awards,or as we fondly refer to themThe Jauntys.
Perhaps to apologize for opening a hotel in Chicago in the middle of winter, Virgin Hotels is nuzzling up with Virgin America to help surprise flyers on the airline's routes to/from Chicago.
Last night, VX's Chicago flyers enjoyed a Virgin Hotels Social Hour, with free in-flight WiFi and a complimentary cocktail. These things may cost at 35,000-feet, but Virgin Hotels plans to offer them free to guests. One passenger on each flight also won roundtrip tickets and a 2-night stay at the Virgin Hotel Chicago (which opens January 15, 2015).
The onboard fun was also a prime time for Virgin Hotels to announce what perks Virgin America's frequent flyers will enjoy when on the ground and in bed:
All Virgin America Elevate members will receive 1,000 points per stay at Virgin Hotels. They will also get a special introduction offer of double bonus points for stays from January 15 to March 31, 2015.
Elevate Gold members will get complimentary breakfast and a room upgrade, based on availability. Silver members will also receive an upgrade, if available.
T2 at SFO / SFO / Virgin America / Delta / San Francisco Travel / Airport News / Airports / → All Tags
For travelers flying out of Terminal 1 at San Francisco International Airport the options are pretty limited for dining and entertainment and, to make matters worse, the Delta Sky Club is located before the security checkpoint. Those stuck with this situation are traveling on AirTran, Delta, Frontier and Southwest.
At least they were stuck with it, as the good news arrives that SFO has opened up a new passageway connecting the boring and bland Terminal 1 with the contemporary and cool Terminal 2. We have a whole tag tied in with T2 at SFO, and we love everything about T2's shiny digs, from the bathroom and yoga room to the free WiFi and plentiful electrical outlets (not to mention a food court with a Pinkberry).
Welcome onboard Flight 101 from Newark to San Francisco, a 5-hr, 45-minute journey. It's a route flown by thousands of travelers every day, and yet the newest itineration of the flight is actually a simple video, depicting the mind- (and butt-) numbingly dull environment of the average trip on a legacy airline, the fictitious BLAH Airlines in this case.
The fact that the film was uploaded to Virgin America's channel gives away the powers behind it, but what's most shocking is that the eye-gougingly lengthy video has managed to attract over 75,000 views in its first 24 hours.
The campaign, which AdWeek pegs as the work of Eleven in San Francisco, stretches beyond YouTube to create an entire presence for BLAH Airlines (slogan: "You will get there"):