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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"):
New Routes / Airline News / Airlines / JetBlue / WestJet / Air Canada / Virgin America / American Airlines / → All Tags
Sometimes it’s hard to stay on top of all the new route announcements that come our way, so we’ve complied a little bit of a rundown below. As long as you can afford the fares, this should definitely help add to your passport stamp collection.
The free snacks and blue chips are on the move once again, as JetBlue is adding a couple new options to their route network. The carrier plans to do the nonstop thing between Las Vegas and San Francisco beginning on January 5. Things will head back and forth two times each and every day, and it’ll be some of the carrier’s Airbus A320s doing the flying. JetBlue isn’t done there either, as they have one more flight to add. October 29 will bring nonstop flights between Las Vegas and Fort Lauderdale too.
· American Airlines:
Here’s a new option for those that enjoy the up in the air experience offered up by American Airlines. The carrier will be heading in and out of Delta’s home in Atlanta, as they’re planning to start new nonstop flights between Los Angeles and Atlanta. The plan is to start taking to the skies beginning on March 5. American Airlines plans to send planes and people between the two cities three times each day, and they’ll be doing it all with some help from their Boeing 737-800s.
Travel News / Airlines / Virgin America / Virgin Atlantic / Virgin Australia / Virgin / Virgin Hotels / Hotels / Chicago Travel / Frequent Flyer Miles / Airline Loyalty Programs / eleVAte / → All Tags
It feels like forever ago that the future existence of Virgin Hotels was teased. In reality it was only 2010, and finally there's a solid opening date. The first Virgin Hotel will open in Chicago in January 2015, and roomsexcuse us, "Chambers"just went on sale from $209 per night.
For everything we know about Virgin Hotels to this minute, you'll want to check out the HotelChatter story, because right now we're pretty distracted by the tasty news that hotel stays will work with flights towards your frequent flying totals. The NY Times tucked this tidbit into the very end of their story:
Fort Lauderdale Travel / Florida Travel / Beach Travel / Cruise Travel / Virgin America / Frontier / → All Tags
We're sorry to say that winter's approaching, but we're not sorry to admit that we have no problem high-tailing out of colder climes in search of sunny skies, sandy beaches and skimpy swimsuits. While South Florida specializes in these things, one city in particular is reaping more attention than normal, and that city is Fort Lauderdale.
Fort Lauderdale sits about 40 minutes north of its big sister Miami, and is similar packed with nightlife, warm weather activities, and daytime culture. With an average year-round temperature of about 75 degrees and 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, it's plain to see why this city is on the upswing with tourist numbers.
Hurricanes / Mexico Travel / SJD / Cabo San Lucas Travel / Hurricane Odile / Airports / Airport News / Virgin America / Airlines / Airline News / → All Tags
In the days following last week's category 3 Hurricane Odile and the destruction of Mexico's Baja Peninsula, both military and commercial jets mustered and pooled resources to rescue a thousands of stranded and weary travelers. Among the airlines to provide free relief flights were United, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta, Southwest, and Virgin America.
The September 18 relief flight by Virgin America transported pallets stacked with water and food to Cabo and brought back a planeful of trapped tourists. Flying nonstop from Los Cabos to San Francisco, they fared far better than those who ended up with transport only as far as Tijuana. Virgin America has been one of the greatest champions of Cabo travel in the few years since they began flying to SJD, in the winter of 2010.
The plane to fly the mission was N855VA, named "screw it, let's do it" after one of Richard Branson's books. The lucky passengers who made it onboard surely echoed the sentiment, after queuing down airport roads for hours in the sun, waiting for a flight any flight to get them out of there.
Hurricanes / Mexico Travel / SJD / Cabo San Lucas Travel / Hurricane Odile / Airports / Airport News / Weather / Virgin America / LAP / → All Tags
When Hurricane Odile hit Mexico's Baja Peninsula on Monday, the resort destination of Cabo San Lucas quickly became hell instead of a holiday for travelers. Storm damage was so great that parts of the region lacked electricity, running water, cell phone service, and even transportation. Major roads, neighborhoods and tourists sites were all hugely hurt; in fact, hotels may not reopen for another month. The situation wouldn't be so bad, however, if Los Cabos International Airport weren't also so horribly battered.
The FAA announced that both Los Cabos and General Manuel Marquez De Leon International in La Paz will be closed for at least a week, which leaves the earliest resumption of flights at next Tuesday, September 23.
Airlines have canceled flights accordingly and issued travel waivers for free flight changes or refunds. Virgin America's alert notes they have canceled through September 22 and travelers booked to Los Cabos from now through September 30 are eligible for a flight change to another date, or to another Virgin America destination (may we suggest Palm Springs?).