So here we were at 6:20 Monday morning at Los Angeles International Airport. Despite the hour, a disc jockey played pulsing club music, a soundtrack that soon continued onboard a Virgin America Airbus with "My Other Ride is a Spaceship" emblazoned behind its nose. A 20-minute flight later, the jet landed in Mojave, Calif., where tycoon Richard Branson awaited.
The delightful Richard Branson proves yet again that you don't have to toe the line in order to be a successful businessperson. In launching another intriguing business, this time to make private aircraft charters easier to arrange, he cannot avoid the temptation for endless quips, even right off a long flight from India - a charter of course.
Talk about a long wait for takeoff. After stints at Lufthansa and Delta (where he was president), Fred Reid has spent three years trying to get Virgin America off the ground. Though the Department of Transportation initially withheld approval, citing too much foreign control by Richard Branson's Virgin Group, the low-cost carrier finally got the go-ahead in May after restructuring. Flights between San Francisco and New York - featuring mood lighting, leather seats, and a deluxe entertainment system - begin this month. We caught up with Reid at VA's Burlingame, Calif., headquarters to talk travel.
It has been a year of promising news for the globe-trotting business traveler. Yes, there have been all the woes of increased airport security, packed planes, heaving hotels and bursting business-class lounges, but some of the headlines have brought encouragement for a better future.
After years of preparation and planning, Virgin America finally took off Wednesday, despite delays caused by a summer storm in New York. But whether all the hype surrounding the new airline is anything more than hot air remains to be seen.
I'm sailing on a Hobie Cat with Richard Branson along the shore of Necker Island, his private enclave about a mile from Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. The Virgin Islands aren't actually a part of Virgin Group, the conglomerate he founded, but sometimes it's easy to make that mistake.
The "rebel billionaire" Richard Branson started out some 30 years ago with a small company that he turned into one of the world's most recognizable brand names -- in part by making sure no one else used the word "Virgin" to sell their wares.