The blue travelling diaries

[philiptellis] Walking the world in search of interestingness

Monday, January 17, 2011

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy

I flew Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic from Heathrow to Boston early this year. It wasn't quite business class. The seats are quite wide and roomy, but the seat belts are the same length as they are in economy, which makes them rather small for premium. Leg room isn't great either because each seat has some kind of block below it making it hard for tall people to stretch their feet out too far. My knees were bent the whole flight. The seats recline decently, but not all the way, so you're still at around 120 degrees. A little better than Economy, but the lack of leg room meant that sleep wasn't going to be easy.

Once you're seated, you get a glass of sparkling wine, which is apparently the only thing they're allowed to serve while on the ground. I'm not sure which authority that rule comes from.

The video screens are small. About the same size as the screens in Economy and half the size of the Economy screens on Jet Airways. The system was slow starting up but quick once it did start up. It appeared to be running X on linux.

Now while Premium Economy is a separate section on the aircraft, there are no toilets in this section. The nearest toilet is in Business Class, but you're not allowed to use it even if Business Class is empty. The toilet in Economy is two sections back, which means a long walk every time you need to use the loo. Not a big problem, but inconvenient.

On the whole it was an average experience. Not at all what I'd expect from Richard Branson's Virgin brand.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

My year in towns and cities 2010

Time for another one of these annual summaries. This year was a long one with about 70 flights and me hitting Star Alliance Silver status early in the year. It's too bad all the US domestic Star Alliance carriers suck or I'd have reached Gold too. Anyway, here goes:
  • Mumbai, MH, India
  • Dubai, UAE
  • Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • Boston, MA, USA
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Rio Grande, PR, USA
  • Vieques, PR, USA
  • San Juan, PR, USA
  • Montreal, QC, Canada
  • Hong Kong, China
  • Bondi, NSW, Australia
  • Sydney, NSW, Australia
  • Newcastle, NSW, Australia
  • Melbourne, Vic, Australia
  • London, England
  • Berlin, Germany
  • San Diego, CA, USA
  • West Yellowstone, MT, USA
  • Wapiki, WY, USA
  • Wright, WY, USA
  • Sarasota, FL, USA
  • New York, NY, USA
  • Seattle, WA, USA
  • Stowe, VT, USA
  • Burlington, VT, USA
  • Richmond, VA, USA
  • Ithaca, NY, USA
  • Ann Arbor, MI, USA
  • Bangalore, KA, India
I've listed each city only once even if I've made multiple trips there. 19 of these trips were pleasure and the rest business. I will probably not travel as much in 2011.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

JetBlue's All You Can Jet pass

About 40 hours ago JetBlue announced their All You Can Jet pass (better known to experienced jetters as #aycj). A few minutes ago they announced that the 7 day pass had sold out.

#aycjJetBlue introduced the pass last year and I jumped at the offer. I knew that I wasn't going to take time off work, but four weekends was still tempting, so I got mine as did many others. At the end of the 30 days though, a new community was built. A community that communicated over twitter using the #aycj tag as a chat room, that met at airport terminals, most notably T5 at JFK, and a bunch of strangers that identified each other by the little blue button with a twitter tag. A few of them turned into celebrities in their own right.

The hype really built up even after all passes were sold out. There was enough press and blog action that even if JetBlue didn't make a profit off of it, they definitely won many new loyal customers.

So why would an airline do this? The timing of the pass seems to answer that question. Traditionally, the period between Labour day (the first Monday in September) and Thanksgiving is when Americans fly the least. Except for really busy routes, most flights will go empty. This is a great time for airlines to throw out special offers, and it essentially turns into a pricing war between who can offer the cheapest seats.

JetBlue wins this round because they did something completely different. They didn't offer cheaper seats, they offered one very expensive seat that you can take with you for 30 days. The restrictions on booking ensure it isn't abused, and the result is fuller flights, and possibly more people paying $6 to watch movies on board.

I bought my pass this year a few minutes after I saw the first tweet about it, even before the email from JetBlue hit my inbox. Now, a little under two days later, the passes are sold out. It took a lot longer last year, and it will probably be a lot shorter next year.

Here's looking forward to another 4 weekends of travel.