Posted November 17, 2010 by BookingBuddy
Sir Richard Branson may think he has what it takes to run an airline, but can he do it in high heels and a form-fitting red suit? This may just be the Virgin Atlantic head honcho’s new uniform when he shows up for his shift as AirAsia’s newest recruit.
Branson, who also owns the Virgin Racing team, had recently bet AirAsia’s boss Tony Fernandes (owner of the Lotus F1 team) that the loser would have to be a stewardess on the other’s airline. The Lotus team was placed ahead of Virgin Racing, leaving Branson on the losing end.
Seats on a special AirAsia Kuala Lumpur to London flight will be auctioned off soon, with the proceeds going to charity. The charity will be chosen by Branson. Fernandes is said to have presented Branson with AirAsia’s fire-engine red uniform a few days ago.
If you fancy watching Branson totter down the aisle pushing a trolley loaded with snacks and drinks, then you may want to consider bidding for a seat on the flight. Just don’t be surprised if Branson offers you some ‘Coffee, tea or me?’
Posted October 21, 2010 by BookingBuddy
If you ever harboured any childhood dreams to be an astronaut, but failed to qualify for NASA, then it may be time you started saving your pennies. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has just gone one step closer to making space tourism a reality.
Virgin Galactic’s suborbital spacecraft Enterprise reached a significant milestone yesterday, as it was announced that the Enterprise had successfully completed its first manned flight. The spacecraft was released from its WhiteKnightTwo mothership 14 kilometres above the Mojave Desert, and was piloted by Pete Siebold.
‘Now the sky is no longer the limit, and we will begin the process of pushing beyond the final frontier of space itself over the next year’ Branson was quoted as saying after the successful test. And with 370 customers already signed up, it’s no wonder Branson is eager to push ahead with Virgin Galactic’s spaceflight programme. Tickets for the space adventure certainly don’t come cheap, at US$200 000 a pop, with a deposit of at least US$20 000 required to help secure your seat. Perhaps it’s time to start looking under the sofa for spare change?
Posted December 23, 2009 by BookingBuddy
Their music career may no longer be taking off these days, but the Spandau Ballet boys (men?) will be soaring through the stratosphere for real next year.
Richard Branson’s announcement that Virgin Galactic will be sending moneyed tourists into space soon begs the question – What’s the inflight entertainment like? After all, if you’re paying more than £100 000 for a seat, you’d expect something more exciting than a game of Tetris.
And something more exciting than Tetris is what you’ll get – if you happen to be a fan of 1980s pop music, that is. Spandau Ballet themselves have been lined up to perform on SpaceShipTwo’s inaugural flight, giving them the honour of being the first band to perform in space.
The aging former heartthrobs may have been used to performing in arenas filled with crowds of screams girls back in their heyday, but they should probably expect a much quieter audience this time around. After all, SpaceShipTwo only has enough space for six passengers, and ‘in space, no one can hear you scream’…
Posted December 2, 2009 by BookingBuddy
You’ve sailed the seven seas and climbed the highest mountains, so what else is there to do these days? After all, when you’ve explored the four corners of the earth, everything else can seem rather prosaic. Well, if you happen to have a spare £120 000 lying around (quick, look under the sofa!), Virgin Galactic will be happy to take you into space.
The company’s sub-orbital space plane – rather unfancifully called SpaceShipTwo – is currently in the last stages of construction. After its completion, it is expected to undergo some test flights early next year.
While you won’t be able to go to the moon or even to the International Space Station, you will be able to fly up to 50 000 feet and look down on the Earth’s curvature as you float around in total weightlessness. That’s still a lot more exciting than spending a wet summer weekend in Butlins, wouldn’t you say?
Of course, going into space may not be for everyone (especially if you’re like my mum and have a phobia of heights) but 300 people have already paid for a ticket so they can float around for a few minutes. And if you simply can’t afford the fee, you can always try recreating the experience by jumping on your bed while the lights are off.
Posted November 25, 2008 by BookingBuddy
Your healthy summer tan is fading to a pallid grey, and the pound is much stronger than the Australian dollar, so, what’s the one thing that’s holding you back from hopping on a plane to Sydney and lying on Bondi Beach? Well, it’s probably the fact that the journey there and back isn’t so much a hop as an odyssey. Even in these days of speedy travel, it can sometimes take up to two days to get Down Under. What’s the point of a break if it takes you the better part of a week to get back and forth, and makes you even more tired than before you left?
If you can hold off going on that holiday for several years, you might be able to take a Virgin Atlantic flight from London to Sydney in a couple of hours instead of a couple of days. Those brainiacs at the International Space University in Strasbourg are working on sub-orbital point to point travel (SPTP)—travelling through space to get from one side of the globe to the other.
SPTP is being seen as the equivalent of taking a trip on the Concorde. It is likely that this sort of travel will be aimed at the same sort of people who have paid over £100 000 to go into space with Virgin Atlantic's sister company, Virgin Galactic.
So, if you don’t have that much money just floating around, best start saving your pennies now, as it's predicted that SPTP will come into use as early as 2015. If you don’t see yourself having that much cash to spend on travel to Sydney for a short break, well, maybe it’s time you resigned yourself to sitting in a cramped economy-class seat for 18 hours. Until teleportation actually becomes reality, it looks like that’s the only way most of us will be travelling.
Posted November 24, 2008 by Jaklien van Melick
Of all the airlines I have ever flown with, Virgin Atlantic must be the coolest one in the sky. Stepping onboard one of their sleek planes is like walking into a trendy London nightclub. The interior has an ultra-modern design enhanced by phased mood lighting. The good-looking flight attendants in their John Rocha designer uniforms wouldn’t seem out of place at a fashion shoot. Heck, there is even a fully stocked bar. I think you get the picture; Virgin Atlantic oozes coolness.
So it comes as no surprise that the most stylish of spies, 007 himself, has chosen Virgin as his favourite airline. For the second time, Richard Branson’s slick and smooth carrier is featured in a James Bond movie. After Casino Royale, the MI6 spy played by Daniel Craig flies on a VA plane in Quantum of Solace. The airplane scene features James enjoying a few too many Vesper cocktails in the Upper Class bar en route to Bolivia. Bond is of course going to South America to chase some bad guys who are trying to overthrow the Bolivian government.
The cocktail, which is named after the woman who betrayed him in the previous film, can be sampled till the end of November in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses at Heathrow, Gatwick, New York (JFK), Washington, D.C. (Dulles), San Francisco and Hong Kong airports. If it's cool enough for Bond, it's cool enough for us, so if you'd like to try the drink without paying a fortune for a business-class seat, here's the recipe:
- 60ml Bombay Sapphire
- 20ml Grey Goose
- 10ml Lillet Blanc
- Twist of lemon peel for garnish
- Stir and serve
Posted October 2, 2008 by BookingBuddy
Does this sound familiar to you—waking up bleary-eyed at 3 a.m., then attempting to get to some forsaken airport to check in for your flight at least two hours before it takes off? (And the airport doesn’t even have the decency to try and be in the world’s top 15 best airports—unless you fly through Manchester Airport.) Many alarm clocks have been destroyed by irate fists in this manner.
Well, good news is on the way for those travelling Upper Class with Virgin Atlantic—you get to sleep in a little bit longer! The airline has cut down the check-in times at Heathrow Airport to a paltry 40 minutes—barely time enough for you to show your passport, dump your bags, and run all the way to the boarding gate. Thinking of grabbing a box of Ferrero Rochers at the duty-free shop? Banish the thought, chocoholics, you might miss your flight!
On the other hand, if you’re not the running sort, you can even drive your limousines (because how else will you be getting to the airport?) all the way up a ramp to a special arrival area.
All this must be good news for alarm clocks, as they need no longer cower under the threat of getting smashed during a 3 a.m. wake-up call. Alarm clock manufacturers might have to start looking at other job options though.
(Photo: Houston Airport System)
Posted September 16, 2008 by BookingBuddy
Let’s take a trip back in time ... Try and remember the last time you packed for an overseas holiday. Remember the search for that perfect bikini to make you look a size 8 instead of the size 10 you really are? Remember packing that special bottle of moisturising shampoo to stop your hair getting all greasy in the tropical climate? Remember chucking that bottle into your carry-on bag because there wasn’t enough space in your check-in baggage? Remember how you watched while airport security took that bottle of shampoo out and binned it, right in front of your teary eyes, all because it was in a 150ml container?
Well, it could be nearly time to rejoice, bulk-buying fans! Last week, Virgin Atlantic said that ‘the time may now be right’ for a change to airport security regulations. The current rules state that containers holding more than 100ml of liquid cannot be carried in hand luggage. This has led to many frantic (and slightly amusing) pre-check-in scenes of people digging through their bags, dislodging various belongings and stuffing bottles where the sun don’t shine.
However, all this may be coming to an end. Four U.K. airports, including Heathrow, have recently purchased scanners that are able to detect liquids and even test if those liquids are dangerous. These scanners are now being tested by security services. A source within the security industry has said that ‘when they are happy that it works, the ban will be lifted.’
It looks like we can soon stop wasting our time decanting all our bottles into cute little 100ml plastic containers the night before we fly. Besides, we ought to be spending our time on the really important things, like finding that damned bikini.
(Photo: Rohan Travel Unlimited)
Posted September 4, 2008 by BookingBuddy
Amidst increasing tales of doom and gloom, it’s nice to have something positive to talk about once in a while.
Unlike most airline executives, who these days complain about falling passenger numbers (and revenue), Virgin Atlantic's Richard Branson is able to boast of the exact opposite—a record increase in profits over the last year. While they might be trying to get rid of extraneous weight onboard, they are certainly no Skinny Minnies when it comes to raking it in.
The company announced last week that premium passenger numbers rose by 22 percent during the last year, while pre-tax profits rose 38 percent. This is especially good news if you happen to be lucky enough to be employed by Virgin. Why? Well, the company is about to give all the employees a bonus payout said to be equivalent to about one and a half week’s salary.
It looks like the good news is set to increase over the coming months, as Virgin have announced the launch of several new routes, and are focusing on providing better service in Upper Class, Premium Economy and Economy.
All in all, good news for Virgin Atlantic and their staff, but will all these profits be moved on to their passengers? Well, I’m not asking to be given free money just for buying a seat with them (though it would be nice), I’m thinking more realistically. For example, how about more generous portions of cheese during meal times? Surely another square of cheese can’t eat too much into those extra 38 percent of profits? With Virgin Atlantic find: Cheap flights to Boston, cheap flights to New York and of course cheap flights to London
(Photo: Virgin Atlantic)
Posted September 2, 2008 by BookingBuddy
Think your garden-variety aspiring pop stars/models are the only ones to go on faddish crash diets? Well, these days, even the jumbo jets are doing that—and when I say ‘jumbo jet’, I’m not talking about anyone above a size 12. I’m simply talking about airplanes. And I probably shouldn’t use the word ‘crash’ in such close proximity to a sentence about planes.
In these belt-tightening, credit-crunching times, even the big boys of aviation are looking to get rid of some weight. And how are they planning on doing it, so the weight stays off and doesn’t come back? Well, if you’re part of British Airways’ cabin crew, rejoice, because one of the things they are planning to get rid of is paperwork. If you’re flying with BA, however, don’t start jumping for joy yet, as they’re apparently also trying to reduce the weight of in-flight meals. Let’s cross our fingers and hope that doesn’t mean the meals will end up disappearing like Posh Spice when she turns sideways.
Virgin Atlantic is also trying to lose some weight; this time, by shedding some clothes. Well, maybe not clothes exactly. Instead, they’re trying to reduce to amount of packaging their in-flight meals come in. The airline has already introduced lighter seat fitting and lighter cargo bins in their attempt to lose the flab.
With all the weight-watching going on, will there come a time when they decide to weigh their passengers at check-in, too? Anyone larger than any member of Girls Aloud will have to pay extra for the privilege of flying.