Monday, August 23, 2010

Review: Virgin America's Main Cabin Select

If you're interested in Virgin America - the 3-year-old start-up out of San Francisco that is 25-percent owned by British billionaire Richard Branson - check out my review of the carrier's Main Cabin Select (biz class) in the August issue of Global Traveler magazine. It's on page 19 if you've got the print edition, and posted under GT tested at if you don't.

I won't repeat all the details here. Suffice it to say Main Cabin Select is a superior U.S. domestic business class product - which is to say, it combines features of a full-out biz class and aspects of premium economy. I'm flying with Virgin America again tomorrow, again in Main Cabin Select, and looking forward to it - at least as much as one can when flying domestic. The airline is stylish, and none of its flight attendants has skipped out from completing a flight, as far as I know, though a few may be auditioning for TV's "Fly Girls.'' Of course, it is as subject to antiquated U.S. air traffic control systems and outdated airports as any other airline.

Actually, it's good to see Virgin America (not Virgin Atlantic, the U.S. carrier licenses the Virgin brand from Branson) flying at all. It took all of 2006 and most of 2007 to convince U.S. aviation regulators that Branson doesn't run the company - which would be a violation of U.S. law restricting majority ownership and operational control to U.S. citizens. Many countries have such laws and they are about as relevant in a globalized age as the latest regulations on buggy whips. Continental Airlines led a calvalcade of complaints from competitors and the new airline almost didn't get off the ground. Relative sanity prevailed and Virgin America launched in August 2007.

Here's to it.

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