What’s the big deal about Virgin America?
When Virgin America began ticket sales late last month, the site was so flooded with traffic that potential customers – frustrated by long delays – simply gave up trying. Certainly, plenty of people were trying to book at once, but the real culprit was an orchestrated cyber attack that resulted in a slow start for sales. Though the offender remains unknown, it does get you wondering. Could a rival airline have been responsible? Very unlikely, though several of the legacy carriers lobbied vigorously to block Virgin America from entering the market.
Conspiracy theories aside, the amount of coverage given to the latest in a long line of so-called low-cost carriers does beg the question: Will it live up to the hype? With JFK-SFO fares that start at $139 each way, Virgin America certainly isn’t the cheapest way to fly across the country; in fact, JetBlue, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines all offered cheaper fares – by as much as $67 round-trip – for the same route on a test-date search on Travelocity.com – (What kind of low-cost carrier is this anyway?)
But Virgin America thinks you’ll fly them anyway. Why? For the in-flight experience. But they haven’t even started flying yet, you think to yourself. The first flight isn’t scheduled until August 8, but if the promotional materials are a true indication of what to expect in-flight (an high-tech entertainment system with the ability to order food from your seat; mood lighting; power outlet, USB port, and Ethernet jack at every seat; and massage chairs in first class) it’s likely many travelers will pony up the extra dough for a seat.
I wouldn’t. But that’s just me. I don’t care about having a power outlet at my seat because I want to put my laptop away for awhile. I’d rather bring my own food rather than pay extra for what an airline is offering. And if I don’t like what’s on tap for in-flight entertainment, I’ll just read my book or try to catch up on some sleep.
One last thought: If Virgin America is as wildly successful as many believe it will be, carriers flying archaic planes on cross-country routes might feel compelled to update them to attract more customers. My suggestion is to put those massage chairs in economy class. Even I might pay an extra $67 for that.
My name: Genevieve Shaw Brown. I also answer to Genny and Gen.
How I earn my keep: I work at Travelocity.
Greatest travel lesson learned: I travel for my job, but I've learned work is work, vacation is vacation, and it's best not to try and do both on one trip.
Fondest travel memory: There are so many... but a recent experience was being totally jet-lagged and waking up pre-dawn in Koh Samui, Thailand, and watching the sun rise with my husband on the beach. We talked about what all our friends and family were doing at that very same moment as the sun set back home in New York.
First thing I do in a new place: Peruse the local restaurants and map out my dining strategy for the duration of my trip. Dining strategy = eating at as many restaurants as humanly possible.
First thing I do when I get home: Put a push pin on the destination I just returned from on the map of the world that hangs on the wall above my couch.
Travel ambition: To cover that map completely in push pins.
My most beloved place in the whole world: Cockle Cove Beach in Chatham, Massachusetts.