When any Virgin company throws a party, it’s usually in your best interest to show up. Whether this is a Virgin American inaugural flight with Victoria’s Secret models, a Virgin Galactic tour in the Mojave Desert or plain old marketing schlep, you’re almost always guaranteed to meet a few friendly faces, have a few drinks and learn something interesting about the Virgin brand.
Last week’s introduction to V Australia‘s 777 in Los Angeles was no different. Members from all branches of the media were on hand to witness the aircraft’s arrival from the factory in Washington, and to keep us entertained at the Flight Path Museum (just off the LAX tarmac,) organizers had a DJ, snacks, all sorts of literature and even a faction of the USC marching band and cheerleaders (?!) on hand to play a few tunes.
Most interesting, however, were the people. As usual, our old friend The Cranky Flier was on hand to deliver the down and dirty on all of the recent airline gossip (“OMG OMG did you hear about the Virgin America numbers??”), Juliana from Jaunted was armed with her Twitter entourage and suits from Expedia, Hilton and other travel brands were on site. On the flight’s arrival, Richard Branson also brought a few celebrities, including Australian celebrities, Brett Godfrey, the CEO of V Australia and other fancy headliners. Cranky also swears that he saw Chase from House MD, but I think that was just the Wild Turkey talking.
%Gallery-44370%Once the tour of the aircraft started, I found myself walking towards the airplane with Richard Branson and Godfrey, the former of whom barged up the steps towards the door while the latter ushered me up. And as I passed the first class cabin and rounded into the aircraft bar, I suddenly found myself standing in the compartment alone with Branson.
I asked him if we could jump on the beds. In my defense, the invitation that I got from V Australia specifically said that we could, but I doubt that he knew that. Branson looked at me like I was some sort of squirrel and replied “Sure… In a minute,” and promptly opened up a bottle of Champagne.
Then the mayor of LA, Antonio Villaraigosa, showed up and ruined all of the fun, sucking down a glass of Champagne and spouting off some senseless marketing drivel. With him came the rest of the media, including questions like “Will trips to Australia be non-stop?” (Answer from Branson: Well, it’s over the ocean, so I should hope so.) so I headed to the back of the aircraft to meet some more people and take some pictures.
Finding myself in the cockpit, I ran into Ken Pascoe, one of the pilots of the aircraft who was currently sitting in the right seat. After a couple of pictures and some plans to visit the 777 simulator in Sydney, we took this video:
Overall, everyone seems really excited about the new service that’s coming up. Once the 777 reaches Australia, the airline is going to spend a few weeks acclimating, training and preparing their crew, then first flight is later this month. Stay tuned for a review of the inflight service.