As I was taking off from SFO yesterday, I noticed the Virgin logo on three smaller airplanes. On closer inspection, the Airbuses had Virgin America‘s livery. I was tempted to snap a picture, but resisted out of fear of being tackled by an air marshal.
Last month, Virgin America got the U.S. Department of Transportation’s approval to start a U.S. airline, after agreeing to concessions relating to its ownership structure.
The airline will be based in San Francisco with initial flights to JFK. Dulles is among the initial airports targeted for expansion.
Virgin Atlantic is one of my favorite airlines. Although U.S. law severely restricts the amount of influence Richard Branson can have on the company (one of DOT’s requirements was that Virgin America replace its CEO because of his ties to Branson), I hope that they can bring some of that high level of service to American aviation.
The planes seem well outfitted for people flying out of the San Francisco area. Among the features touted on Virgin’s Web site: 9″ screens, power ports, RJ-45 and USB jacks and touch-screen food ordering. And that’s in coach. Planes will have Internet access. The Web 2.0 set can use the plane’s seat-to-seat social network to interact with other passengers.
Virgin America even offers a blogger-friendly video of its Linux-based in-flight entertainment features. The video includes some technical details. Virgin says they will also be inviting Linux developers to create custom applications for the IFE.
(If you’re reading this in a feed reader, you may need to click through to the post to see the video.)