Tag Archives | Virgin America

Virgin America’s Web Site Meltdown: Four Weeks and Counting

Virgin America LogoI can’t think of many companies, in any line of business, which I like as much as I like Virgin America. I’ve often said that if I could only fly to destinations served by this airline–with its mellow and helpful people, universal in-flight Wi-Fi, and many 0ther attractions–I would.

But in the past two and a half weeks, I’ve taken four Virgin America flights, and found its Web site completely crippled. Everything I want to do on an airline site, I can’t do.

  • Most of my flights haven’t shown up in my account;
  • Even with a confirmation number, I sometimes haven’t been able to check in online (or using the machines at the airport);
  • I tried to buy a ticket for another trip online, and got a message saying it didn’t go through–and then an e-mail confirmation saying I had bought a ticket;
  • When I tried to cancel that ticket on the Virgin Web site, it told me I had to click a button on the bottom of the page–and there was no button;
  • When I try–repeatedly–to make a change to yet another trip, all seems well until the very end–when I get bounced back to the home page without the change having been made;
  • The points I’ve been theoretically accruing for recent trips aren’t appearing in my account.

At the moment, the Virgin America site is so broken that its press section has an error message where the press releases should be.

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What the Heck is Going on With Virgin America’s Computers?

Virgin America is my favorite airline. Actually, it may be my favorite company, period, at least among large ones that I give money to on a regular basis. It’s a tech-savvy airline for tech-savvy people, with Wi-Fi on every flight, power in every row, and an at-seat entertainment and information system with umpteen features (my favorite: the ability to order a Diet Coke at any time). Just as important, Virgin also has employees that live up to the concept of the Friendly Skies in a way that a certain other airline I used to fly a lot doesn’t match.

Usually, the Virgin Web site is part of what I like about it–it’s nicely designed and makes buying tickets and checking in pretty painless. But at the moment, the site is down. The notice alerting visitors to that fact has a timestamp of 5pm on Sunday night; as far as I can tell, though, it’s been suffering from nagging problems for days now. It’s been nearly a week since I started trying to book a trip to San Diego, and I’ve failed to finish the task every time–the site keeps choking before I get a confirmation. And the price of the tickets in question have gone up in the interim.

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Virgin America Wi-Fi for Free (Thanks, Google!)

Virgin AmericaI love in-flight Wi-Fi so much that I’ve used it on every flight I’ve ever taken that offered it, and don’t object to paying for it–actually, I’d probably still go online if it cost twice as much. But I’m still tickled by today’s news that Google is sponsoring free Gogo Wi-Fi on every Virgin America flight between November 10th and January 15th. More details are available here.

I presume that Google will get some promotional value out of the deal–maybe ads when you log in, with links to Google services–and am intrigued by the possibility that in-air Internet could go from a somewhat pricey paid service to a free, ad-supported one. Back on terra firma, Wi-Fi is increasingly complimentary (both Borders and Barnes and Noble now offer it gratis). Wouldn’t it be cool if that were true at ten thousand feet, too? May Google’s experiment be a success for everyone concerned, and therefore a widely imitated one…


Look, Up in the Sky! It’s Wi-Fi!

Gogo LogoAt this very moment, I”m using inflight Wi-Fi for the third time in my life–and for the first time, it’s putting me in a good mood. The first time I did so was on a demo flight for the now-defunct Boeing Connexion service, and it essentially failed to work; the second time was on one of the last Connexion-equipped flights, and the fact that I knew it was going away put me in a melancholy mood. Even though Connexion, even when it worked, was kinda sluggish and kinda pricey.

This morning, however, I’m on a Virgin America flight with Gogo service. It’s six bucks for my flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and is quite speedy–YouTube is playing back more smoothly than it sometimes does via my home network. Virgin is the first carrier with an all-Wi-Fl fleet; it’s instantly become my default carrier on any route it travels. 

I should probably segue here into a sober rumination on the virtues of being disconnected and the downside of living in a world in which spending even 59 minutes (our flight time) without Internet access is a hardship. I’ll probably write one eventually, but for now, I’m happy. And it’s going to feel weird when I hear the plane’s wheels touch ground at  ourdestination and I have no need to seize my phone, fire up e-mail, and try to catch up…