Virgin America takes to the skies; Chron doesn’t

Virgin America planeWednesday marked the inaugural flights of Virgin America, a new low-cost airline based in San Francisco. Virgin America is currently flying from San Francisco to Los Angeles and New York. This fall it will add flights to Las Vegas and Washington Dulles.

From all accounts, Virgin America is setting a new standard in airline amenities. (See some of my earlier coverage on Virgin America.) Many of Virgin’s amenities are especially appealing to geeks. The geek bible, Engadget, provides detailed coverage of the maiden flight from JFK to SFO. Their coverage includes 136 pictures.

WIRED also provides detailed coverage with additional photos.

Engadget and WIRED both had reporters on the inaugural flights. Engadget flew from New York and paid for the flight; WIRED flew from Los Angeles and took a freebie.

Based on the coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle, it doesn’t look like it had a reporter on either flight. It ran a piece with two staff photos and a Reuters photo from New York and an AP photo from SFO (!).

This is a huge business story for San Francisco and the Bay Area. The airline has added 500 employees (most based in the Bay Area) and expects to grow to 5,000. Yet the Chron got beat out by a gadget blog and a WIRED blog. Heck, I even considered taking the LAX flight and paying the whopping $44 out of my own pocket. (I couldn’t get the schedule to work out.)

I was at a panel discussion Thursday night sponsored by the Social Media Club featuring Kevin Rose of Digg, Evan Hansen of WIRED and Chris Tolles of Topix. The audience consisted of many in the old media who expressed worry about new-media types stealing their content. If they’re going to get beat like this, they won’t have to worry about that for too long.


About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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