Virgin America, the airline whose operating certificate was denied by the U.S. government because it was deemed to be a foreign entity, and thus in violation of law mandating American ownership of domestic airlines, isn’t giving up. (Background here.)

The CEO of the airline, Fred Reid, is pitching the airline’s comforts, especially the seatback entertainment system (I’m amused by the chat room feature), which is pretty nice. But he’s not just marketing the airline’s offerings. He can’t, after all. They don’t fly anywhere yet. So he’s asking people to sign a petition at their website, letVAfly.com.

As dumb as I think protectionism is for the airline industry, the law is the law, and the airline hasn’t done enough, it seems, to convince regulators otherwise. Their ownership structure is absurdly convoluted (hat tip to CrankyFlier). How will a petition, even if it’s signed by thousands of people salivating for better inflight entertainment or 110V power sockets, help get this airline off the ground? That doesn’t change their ownership structure.

In any case, the video below offers the cabin tour. What do you think?

pixel Virgin America wants your vote, teases you with glimpses of their planes
Categorized in: regulation, Virgin America

14 Responses to “Virgin America wants your vote, teases you with glimpses of their planes”

  1. Benet Wilson Says:

    Wow! On paper – and on video – it looks good. I’m not sure white leather seats in F is such a good idea. I know I wouldn’t want to be the one cleaning them all the time.

    The bigger question is how effective can a “Fly Me” campaign be for an airline that has yet to leave the ground? I can’t really see a groundswell of support based just on a web site, a video on YouTube and the promise of service to a city near you. But stranger things have happened…

  2. Jason Says:

    The idea is fairly similar to United’s use of a website petition for their DC-Beijing route. Did it help them win? Not likely, but it did show that people supported what United wanted to do.

    Further, by getting United States citizens who are likely voters to sign a petition, VA can try to put some pressure on Congress, since it was Congress that put the protectionist law into effect.

  3. Oliver Says:

    Well, they got my vote for the petition. Anything to get the legacy carriers thinking about how to provide better service.

    As for the denial by the DOT, I don’t know if I’d draw the conclusion that the airline hasn’t done enough to convince the government of its compliance with the existing law. It might very well be the case that the legacy carriers have simply done enough lobbying. It’s not like the government always follows its own rules or laws…

  4. Upgrade: Travel Better » Blog Archive » Update: Virgin America revises its ownership structure, potentially making it legal Says:

    [...] Yesterday’s post on Virgin America’s use of petitions and viral videos in their quest to fly may have prematurely written off their chances of success. [...]

  5. Mark Ashley Says:

    Virgin may fly after all… See here.

  6. Benet Wilson Says:

    My jury is still out on this whole let Virgin Fly campaign. I just don’t think that Virgin American coming into the market is going to drive down fares as much as they claim. And I think there is still way too much capacity in out there, which is why I think we need to see at least two more airline mergeres (Delta-US Airways and Continental-United) to bring back rationality to the system.

    United (and other carriers) using a web campaign for the Beijing service was different, in my opinion. It was an established carrier trying to get passengers to help them win a route to what is probably one of the hottest markets in the world.

    Virgin has only been offering promises and possibilities since it announced it was going to start flying, back in 2003. We knew they were going to fly Airbus A320s and be based at SFO, but that was about it until yesterday, when they finally unveiled the interiors and the product. We still don’t know where they’re going to fly, so I can’t see how people will have a vested interest in getting them off the ground. It will be an interesting thing to watch.

  7. Oliver Says:

    To Benet — why is there too much capacity when the loads on most flights are at record highs?

    Also, VA had announced a long time ago that they’d start flying SFO-JFK initially. Obviously, they aren’t going to announce their expected 2008 route map in 2006.

  8. Mark Ashley Says:

    Chiming in with Oliver, I also disagree with the “excess capacity” argument. True, some people are brought on board airplanes only when the fare is rock-bottom (and unprofitable for the airlines… think Independence Air.) But most airlines are profitable now, and the planes are full. I don’t see the excess capacity right now. If there’s a recession, that might change, but that’s life. Whether an established player or a new upstart survives a downturn will be the big money question, but I’d like to see Virgin America fly. Besides, it’s not my money they’re gambling with.

  9. Petri Says:

    We did quite a few domestic and two international flights on US airlines during our winter trip (we’re based in Europe) and only one flight has some space available, and even it was reasonably full by all standards. All the rest were full to the last seat.

    I mentioned to my girlfriend several times that there must be something fundamentally flawed in the US airline industry if they’re flying full planes and making major financial losses.

    However what we did experience was a lot of delays, immigration and TSA inefficiency and most of all, the oldest planes we have ever flown. If Virgin America could just keep the schedules and fly their new planes, that would change the US air travelling closer to the rest of the world.

  10. Upgrade: Travel Better » Blog Archive » Upgrades and Downgrades — February 27, 2007 — Pawned, banned, hostel-ized, and eliminated Says:

    [...] Downgraded: Virgin America, Upgraded: Someone else Poor Virgin America. They want to fly, really they do, but the US government won’t let them. But while the airline waits for a decision, they’ve been forced to lease out their spankin’ new planes to other airlines. It’s the equivalent of going downtown to the pawn shop and cashing in your newly bought plasma TV, just days after you showed it off to all your friends. But this means that other airlines are benefiting from Virgin’s misery. Word on the street says it’s Skybus, the startup airline that wants to rock Columbus, Ohio like a hurricane. [...]

  11. Virgin America to be allowed to fly, if CEO is fired » Upgrade: Travel Better Says:

    [...] That would be Fred Reid, whom you may remember from such video aircraft tours like this one. [...]

  12. Lisa Says:

    I fly VA exclusively, and only in upper class. I use their clubhouses, (love the LHR locale, as well as the awesome “revivals” lounge upon arrival into London), and enjoy them all tremendously. The perks and amenities associated with Branson’s airline are top-rate. VA continues to “exceed” the expectations of customer service across the board. I can only imagine his domestic take on air-travel will be similar to international flights aboard this carrier.

    I am continuously disappointed with first class aboard American-based domestic carriers. It’s no better than coach class USED to be (before they cut everything to the bone). I am confident Virgin America will be incredible. I viewed the planes on the tarmac in SF yesterday, and watched as the main photographer responsible for the advertising campaign photographed them.

    Virgin Airlines is the only carrier who NAMES all their crafts. Our daughter returned to London yesterday aboard “Tinkerbell” (very apropos as she loves Disney!). The first craft has been named JEFFERSON AIRPLANE, and was christened by none other than GRACE SLICK of the band synonymous with the name!

    There are no negatives here at all. American-based airlines should not be fearful of some old-fashioned competition. It’s good and healthy for the economy, and for the American people. There is no such thing as “American-based” companies anymore. The term is utterly ridiculous. We out-source to every other nation on this earth, and loads of major companies have packed-up and moved abroad to save a buck or two. We live in a GLOBAL economy. Mr. Branson and his airline venture should be welcomed with open arms and a ticker-tape parade. Since when have Americans been afraid or fearful of ANYTHING, let alone a little competition?

    This airline was originally slated to get off the ground with a maiden flight in March of this year. Yet, there remain a constant stream of barricades and hurdles created to make the process as difficult as possible. It’s a hostile environment, but thankfully Mr. Branson is never one to shy away from adversity.

    It’s the reason he got into the airline business in the first place. He was so disappointed with the service (or mainly the LACK thereof) he received on a us carrier. After having the next flight canceled, he hired a private jet and offered seats to the disgruntled passengers. He made roughly $10 profit per head (approx).

    There is a marked difference between CHEAP and INEXPENSIVE. I prefer the latter. Yet, I’m more than willing to pay for the experience, which I find as engaging as the destination. Life is too short–to spend it in coach. Thank God for Branson and his recognition of this fact. If all the airlines simply increased the coach fares by $10 each, they could literally offer HOT MEALS, FREE MOVIES and even a NUTTY BUDDY~!

    I will continue to patronize VA exclusively, and look forward to the opportunity to become a frequent flyer of his domestic carrier! WELCOME SIR BRANSON, (your time is overdue).

  13. disgusted Says:

    Interesting… even as Americans have things like the North American Union and the New World Order unwillingly shoved down our throats, it still seems there are those who, WHEN CONVENIENT, will push the use of the “Buy American” theme. How sick is that?

    What is more interesting is the some of the best, highest paid and stable jobs are found in foreign owned corporations that happen to operate in the USA. That is not saying much for the USA legacy type companies in many product/service markets. In fact, I despise American owned companies who promote low cost at the burden of their employees and the tax payers. It is not really low cost, it is just a shell game. There are other startup airlines that are using that formula.

    The big worry with any of the discount carriers is safety. Southwest has a fantastic safety record. Certainly, this has something to do with corporate culture. VA will probably have a similar record, but I worry about many of the other airlines that can/will not hire and actively work to motivate and retain the best and brightest staff….

  14. Now boarding: Virgin America » Upgrade: Travel Better Says:

    [...] been a long one. I honestly didn’t think it would happen. But if you’re jonesing for an inflight service that promises to be swankier than the normal coach experience, you’ll be in luck later this [...]

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