In my conversation with airline executives, I often emphasize my belief that an airline’s brand is what it does, not what it says it does. And Virgin America in the US is proving to be very good at delivering their brand promises – that of presenting the customer a new way to fly.
I’ve written in the past that Virgin America is good at living up to a highly-differentiated brand positioning. Be it Sir Richard Branson or the zingy flight attendants. Be it the smaller-than-usual boarding passes or the in-flight safety video. All elements enforce a strong Virginisque brand personality, and it is this which continues to linger in the customers’ minds long after they leave the plane.
Here’s a true account of a passenger who’s comparing her flights from Boston on Virgin America and Delta, and you can clearly tell why Virgin America is a clear-cut winner – because of their impeccable brand delivery.
I recently had the chance to experience both the new Virgin America and Delta Airlines, on flights to and from Boston to LAX and Boston to Atlanta to New Orleans, respectively. Despite differences in weather conditions, flight times, delays, etc. I have to say I am ecstatic about the future of air travel, and now realize why Delta and other major carriers have found themselves nearing bankruptcy year after year.
I won’t get into specifics about why my Delta experience was so horrid, but I will say, that it’s no wonder why passengers have become increasingly more frustrated with big airlines and have chosen to try out newer, discount airlines. Also, in hindsight, if I had flown to New Orleans on Virgin America, I am positive that I would have had an enjoyable flight, despite any delays.
Like many others, I don’t fly well and tend to get a little anxious during flight. To my complete surprise, Virgin provided the most calming atmosphere while waiting to board and while in flight. Their boarding staff was cool, calm, friendly, and engaging as soon as we entered the gate (after it took only 15 minutes to travel from Beacon Hill through Logan security!!). The boarding process was just as easy as the online seat selection. The flight attendants made all the passengers feel at home, while swanky background music played and dim purple and red lights gleamed as we took their seats-in comfortable spacious leather seats.
The best part of the flight, which really sets the airline apart from all others–even Jet Blue–is Red, Virgin America’s in flight entertainment. Red kicks off with a witty video about in flight safety, which honestly puts all other hokey seat belt demonstrations to shame. Besides Wi-Fi access, the system offers numerous movies for purchase, TV shows, radio, games (touch screen and controller based), and a make your own playlist option. Furthermore, you can browse and order meals, snacks and beverages right from your seat, delivered promptly by the attentive staff.
Virgin’s slogan, This is How to Fly, really says it all. I don’t know how we ever expected anything less. Even if Virgin didn’t have such amazing low fares (I flew to LA for only $99 each way!) I would still opt to fly Virgin over another major carrier…now that’s value & brand equity!
So, what do you think? What is it that makes the Virgin America brand so special? What can other airlines learn from this airline that’s creating waves in the US? Let’s hear it in the comments.