Virgin Atlantic

In-flight stand-up coming to Virgin Atlantic’s Little Red

 

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Airlines spend millions of dollars trying to outdo each other with in-flight entertainment that includes movies, games, network shows and other canned or streaming options. Yet beyond satellite TV feeds, the only live in-flight entertainment passengers often get might be the antics of a drunk in first class or the sound of a talented flight attendant singing or rapping their way through the safety instructions.

But later this month passengers may be in for a surprise when flying between London and Manchester or Edinburgh on some Virgin Atlantic flights operated by Little Red, the airline’s domestic carrier which launched earlier this year.  The airline has booked live, pop-up performances by comedians also scheduled to appear at the popular Edinburgh Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which runs through August 26th.

And next month the airline plans to offer a series of in-flight acoustic music concerts with artists from Scotland and Manchester.

The program, called Little Red LIVE, hasn’t started yet and will be only be on a handful of flights, said airline spokeswoman Nadia Basil, but when show dates and the entertainers are confirmed the airline promises to share details via Facebook and Twitter.

While somewhat unusual, live in-flight events are not unheard of.

“We’re seeing everything from in-flight concerts to fashion shows,” said Mary Kirby, editor-in-chief of the Airline Passenger Experience magazine. “Wizz Air’s ‘mile high’ fashion show immediately springs to mind.”

Kirby notes that beyond the in-flight entertainment value these events offer to passengers, the performances will have added corporate value because of their ability to generate “talkability” about the airline brand.

The performances will no doubt be captured on mobile devices by tech-savvy passengers and uploaded to YouTube, Vine and other video sharing sites. “With the added benefit of inspiring news stories and conversation about Little Red on social media. I see it as a win/win for both the airline and its passenger,” said Kirby.

Whenever they begin, whichever flights they’re on and however they will be captured, the in-flight comedy and music performances will have to be brief. Little Red flights between London and Edinburgh are 90 minutes and between London and Manchester, just 70 minutes.

(My story about Virgin Atlantic’s Little Red LIVE events first appeared on CNBC’s Road Warrior.)

 

 

More April Fools’ Day hijinks from airlines

In addition to early arrivals from Virgin Atlantic (glass-bottomed planes) and WestJet (all-animals welcome; no carriers needed), these April Fools antics from airlines are making the rounds:

Delta Air Lines has a new double-decker arm rest available for those in the middle seat.

Double decker Delta Arm rest

Virgin America has a new Main Canine Select class offering intriguing perks, such as in-flight fire-hydrants designed by Frank Gehry.

Virgin America hydrants

VIRGIN AMERICA PETS

And JetBlue has announced three new – unusual – destinations.

$4,000 crystal-encrusted eye-masks for 5 lucky Virgin Atlantic passengers

You may sleep, but your neighbor may be kept awake by the sparkle.

Travelers hoping to avoid jet lag on a long-haul flight often don black eye masks in hopes of getting some shut-eye.

They may look bland, but they work.

But on Thursday, five lucky Virgin Atlantic passengers will be able to snooze in considerably better style wearing a limited-edition mask, decorated with $4,000 worth of Swarovski crystals.

The airline introduced new amenity kits for its economy, premium economy and first-class passengers on Sept. 1. To celebrate, it’s tucking five swanky Swarovski eye masks — each with more than 3,000 red, white and blue crystals — in the amenity kits handed out in the economy section of five flights. The crystals were all hand applied (10 hours per mask) by Saima Anwar, an artist who also creates crystal eyelashes for celebrities such as Katy Perry.

Thursday’s winners could include passengers on any of the airline’s flights to or from 11 cities in North America, including New York, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles.

Five eyeshades have been created to mark the launch of new amenity kits which are now appearing on board all Virgin Atlantic flights.

“As the majority of our flights leave at night, arriving in London in the morning, we want to make sure our guests are well rested to begin their days, whether they be traveling for business or pleasure,” said Chris Rossi, senior vice president North America.

Virgin Atlantic has been sweet on Swarovski for a while. Since 2003, the airline’s first-class cabins have featured Swarovski crystals on the cabin walls. Curtains adorned with more than 1,000 Swarovski crystals were recently added to the revamped first-class section on the airline’s A330 aircraft.

While only five passengers will score the cool, crystal-encrusted eye-masks, the new, complimentary amenity kits are sure to be keepers. Each economy class kit contains one of the airline’s signature red eyeshades decorated with one of six sunglass designs, including one with heart-shaped frame and another in a shutter style.

The premium economy kits are charcoal gray pouches made from recycled plastic bottles. The pouches have silk linings and are designed to double as travel wallets.

Virgin Atlantic’s first-class passengers will be issued amenity kits made from the same recycled material, but their pouches will be big enough to be reused as holders for tablet devices or e-readers.

Why upgrade an amenity that many other airlines don’t even offer to travelers in the coach cabin? “To enhance the customer experience to travelers in any class by offering a number of on- and off-board amenities not found with other carriers,” said Rossi.

Or, as the airline states in a news release, because it’s “all part of Virgin Atlantic’s commitment to sustainability, and going green (and gorgeous!).”

(My story about Virgin Atlantic’s new amenity kits and the Swarovski crystal encrusted mask give-away first appeared on NBC News Travel)

Photos courtesy Virgin Atlantic.

How to get a job as an airline food tester

File under: be careful what you wish for.

A traveler who wrote to complain to Virgin Atlantic owner Richard Branson about the food on a recent flight  has been invited to pop on over and help pick out food and wine for future Virgin Atlantic flights.

The letter – which included pictures of the offending food – was really funny and was  quickly “e-forwarded” around the world.

Real all about it – but not before dinner – here.

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