Virgin America Begins Flying The Crowded Skies

Virgin America has taken off, according to USAToday. The carrier had to fight hard to convince US authorities it was not an extension of Richard Branson’s “worldwide aviation empire” and, instead, something new. But will it be?

From USAToday:

Virgin America aims to give domestic travelers more for their money by providing a higher level of comfort and by making lots of its coach seats available at prices well below the fares of bigger rivals.

For example, its introductory fares between San Francisco and New York are $278 round trip, about $50 lower than the lowest advance fares available previously from the route’s two dominant carriers, United and American.

Similarly, Virgin America is positioning its first-class service as a more comfortable, higher-tech experience than what the traditional big U.S. carriers offer in their domestic first-class sections, at prices as much as 50% lower.

The centerpiece of the service will be a sophisticated in-flight entertainment system at each seat throughout the plane, dubbed Red in a nod to the planes’ red-painted tails.

Reid says Red is “arguably two or more generations ahead of anything in the U.S. market today.” In addition to 18 channels of TV from Dish network,(DISH) pay-per-view movies, a wide selection of music and electronic games, passengers can text-message other passengers or order meals, which cost extra in coach.

Do you want other passengers text messaging you? Are you excited for Virgin America? Not?

Virgin America takes off [USAToday]