More on Virgin America

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As noted in the previous posting, checking into and boarding my first Virgin America flight was a breeze. The in-flight service is great and, in my opinion, greatly enhanced by the on board technology. This brand new airline is flying brand new equipment and the amenities even for those riding in the back are darn good.

I had a suspicion the egalitarian folks at Virgin would provide in-seat power outlets so I packed my power supply with the cigarette lighter plug. I needn’t have bothered. There are power outlets for each seat but they accommodate a standard US plug—you can leave the second power cord home. There’s also a USB outlet for your iPod if you’re not packing a laptop.

Each seat also is equipped with its own interactive TV screen built into the seat back in front of you just above where your tray table stows away. The touch screen provides options for watching, listening, eating and games. Virgin calls the service “Red.”

If you select watching, you can choose between free and premium television (via Dish network), free (short topic) and premium movies, and free music videos. If you’re interested in movies you have about sixteen or so to choose from. Slide your credit card through the slot in the screen’s bottom and you’re set to go. All sorts of music are available for free and your iPod ear buds will serve you well if you don’t have noise canceling headphones (I don’t).

Two other nice features on the video scene. First, you have controls for pause/play/reverse/skip just like on your VCR and DVD so you don’t miss a bit of the movie. The added benefit of this is that you can pause at any point and make a quick run to the restroom; the old days of people queuing up at the end of the single movie that’s just rolling the credits are over.

Built into each armrest is a pop-out controller if you don’t like using the touch screen controls. You also can log onto the Internet (sorry, I didn’t try to do so though I now realize it would have been good research). Flip the controller over and there’s a video game controller (darn, should’ve done that too!) and a miniature keyboard for you to type away.

Order food from your seat and the flight attendants bring it whenever you’re ready. Snacks and/or meals are all ordered via the touch screen and paid for using the same credit card mechanism. There are no cash dealings and, therefore, no announcements about how much exact change will be appreciated.

In short, it was a very comfortable seat, I got some work done, I watched a movie and never missed a beat. The technology worked and the flight attendants were as friendly as the ground crew; I even met a couple of nice folks. When’s the last time you could say all that about a cross-country trip?

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