So I am writing this blog post somewhere over Kansas. For just $12.95, I was able to logon and get 1Mbps speeds from Boston to LA. It’s very nice although my family have already discovered that it isn’t perfectly free (they appear to block Farmville so some chickens may not survive the flight). At the same time, in economy we have a personal touch screen TV with movies (you pay US$8 and I opted for Michael Moore’s capitalism movie in a fit of irony) but also (for free), cable TV that is live. If I want to buy food, I just order it from my seat and it comes. It is a marvel.
But there is more, the airline was very easy to deal with. You had to pay to check bags but you could do so at home so you didn’t have to fiddle around at the airport. And the airline kept you informed about any delays.
This is not the standard US airline experience. That is usually a disaster. But somehow a new entrant, Virgin America, is able to provide all of it. The plane is full but the tickets were dirt cheap.
The puzzle is this: why did this type of entry take so long to happen? And why isn’t it a bigger competitive threat? I guess time will tell. For the moment, fly Virgin in the US if you can.