I got to fly this airline yesterday and thought it was worth writing about, since it’s such a new thing. Virgin America apparently runs just a few routes right now, and has only recently started flying within the U.S.
I flew from SFO to Dulles. As I read in others’ blogs, the plane that took me where I ended up actually came from Las Vegas, as opposed to a plane which just runs back and forth. I think that impacted the performance – 2 hours late to board, yikes. I think FlightStats tells a similar story about on time performance, so far.
That’s the bad news, getting it out of the way. The good news was a bunch of things that were obvious from the time of check in. At the gate, when a delay was announced, the staff member would give the information and then say, “My name is Jane. Feel free to come to me with any questions.” Later on in the evening, the pilot himself made an announcement at the counter and included the information that he was as eager to take off as we were, as soon as the plane we would be using arrived and was clean. That was a nice touch. And he also announced his name and that he would be available up front for questions.
The plane – pretty impressive. They seem to have thought through the space really well and I liked the mood lighting. Cabin staff was really helpful and with good energy. I have to admit I was a little tired so I did not fully rise to the occasion – this is what happens on a red-eye I guess. Later on in the night I had a bit of stomach discomfort because I came on board with an empty stomach, and the attendant really went out of her way to suggest things that would help. When the flight was over, she asked, “of all the things we tried, which one worked out the best for you?”
The customer centered part that I really appreciated was the pilot’s attentiveness to providing information. When the ride became bumpy, he came on the overhead immediately and explained what it was, what he was going to to about it (climb higher) and that it would level off, which it did. I am not a nervous flyer anymore (I used to be), but when I was more so, I always wanted someone to acknowledge that things were bumpy, that this was a normal thing, and not to worry. The pilot did this and it made a difference. As the patient with a concerning symptom wants to know how concerned to be about it, the passenger in a bumpy aircraft wants to know whether to be concerned about it. Nice job.