Richard Branson’s new domestic American airline is quite possibly the most exquisite way to travel. When you board the plane soft pink and violet lighting and music that you’d probably catch on SIRIUS’ Chill channel welcome you. Smooth black seats with glistening white backs will be your focal point during the trip, and each seatback has a personal screen with the airline’s in-flight entertainment system called ‘Red’ (currently a Beta program as it continues to add features). Red lets you rent movies (a wide selection at $8 a pop), watch television (in what time zone, I’m not sure, but it has basic cable options like IFC, Bravo, SciFi, Food Network, ESPN, MSNBC and others) select Premium TV to watch episodes of shows like ’30 Rock’ for $1.99, or go for multi-lingual TV. Then there’s a nice selection of music videos, music channels, and a place to order food and snacks at any time during the trip. This is especially nice because you don’t have to flag down a flight attendant to get those chocolate chip cookies you shouldn’t be having. Just swipe credit card (no cash accepted) and you’re done. Then there’s also games to play, a remote in your seat and the option to send messages to folks at other seats (“Hey there, 6A, you’re kinda cute. Let’s hang out!”). And you can always check-in with Google Maps to see where you are on your journey. The whole experience is actually a lot like the Maroon 5 video for ‘Makes Me Wonder,’ which I actually watched on the plane. Huh.
Of course, with all these tiny luxuries, there is still the unavoidable fact that there will be other people on the plane. Dumb, rude, feeling all-sorts-of-entitled people. There’s the guy behind you who loves Red, too, but he wants to use every button and jab his fat finger into the back of your headrest for the whole flight until you tell him what an idiot he is. Then there’s the two ladies across the aisle who were literally sweating as they ran onto the plane because they didn’t give themselves enough time to get through JFK’s security checkpoint (“Thank you, M’am. You may now pick up your pants and your dignity off the conveyor belt. Have a lovely trip.”) And then there’s the couple that have joined hands in prayer prior to take-off. You wonder if they know something we don’t and what’s really going on there. But in the end, you get to watch a Nelly Furtado video as the plane leaves the ground. If you have to travel within the United States, Virgin America is the only way to go. Sadly, nothing short of Federally mandated charm school can make the stupid Americans more tolerable.