Saturday, February 20, 2010

A good travelling experience. In the US!

It is hard to believe, I know but this week we took off to LA for the school holidays and we had a great experience. Way back in December we had accurately forecast that we would want to flee Boston in February and so we booked tickets back then and fled. Readers of Parentonomics will know that an entire chapter was devoted to previous woes with airlines (and those were in Australia). I myself have had my share of US poor experiences here and here. So I am very happy to report about a good one: on Virgin America.

Actually, Virgin has been pretty good to us in the past. I remember traveling on the Australian one, Virgin Blue, with kids over Easter. We were going on holidays on a 3 or 4 hour flight. A little while into it a hostess came by and said "who's up for face paints?" and off our then two kids went and we didn't see them again until the end of the fight! Perfect.

That didn't happen this week but the electronic equivalent did. Virgin America is the way too fly in the US. Each seat has an individual screen where you can choose from TV, movies, games and even live TV. (I spent a good 3 hours watching curling. I know, why? But once you start it is hard to stop). Oh and all this entertainment was available prior to take off and on landing so no blackout periods trying to work out how to keep the kids amused. 

But wait there's more. You can order food directly from your seat whenever you want. Just order, swipe your credit card and within minutes it is all delivered. And it was reasonably priced and good food too boot. On a 6 hour flight, being free of scheduled cart times is a real bonus. 

And I'm not done yet. If you think the kids just sat there glued to the TV, you would be wrong. The oldest ones spent a great deal of time chatting with other kids all over the plane. They have some messaging system and before too long, the whole flight was one big shared experience. Watching the same TV stations while chatting, pointing out things out of the window and otherwise never laying eyes on each other. Well, not really. Every now and again a child would walk down the aisle to the bathroom and linger peering at our row.

While all this was going on, I was free to do whatever; including work with the inflight WiFi. Add to that the fact that online check-in worked including pre-paying for checked baggage so that experience at the airport (well, apart from security) was first rate. Indeed, here is a hint, they often check baggage at the gate to speed up boarding. That gives you pre-boarding priority and saves you the $20 bag fee.

Sadly, Virgin only have a limited number of routes but wherever they are going we'll be there. (Oh and by the way, the fares were ridiculously cheap).