Going Behind the Scenes at Virgin Atlantic
Recently I was invited to the Virgin Atlantic Headquarters to see behind the scenes at the airline. I spent the day with Tim Graham, Technology Innovation and Development Manager who showed me how the airline has been implementing Google Glass and Sony smart watches to enhance passenger experience. I had a preview of a neat little app on Google Glass that gave crew quick access to passenger and destination info. It was really intuitive and much more functional than I expected. Plus getting to use Google Glass for the first time was pretty cool!
Touring the Rigs
I later met Helena Olosunde who gave me an amazing tour of the training rigs which looked identical to the real aircraft. I also got to see the crew rest area, fully inflated evacuation slides and flotation rafts. I was even shown the Upper Class cabin where the James Bond film Quantum of Solace was filmed.
More than just a regular seat.
Nik Lusardi showed me behind the scenes at Virgin Atlantic product design, where I got to see many prototypes and concepts for aircraft seats, as well as the complex mechanisms and structure of the upper class seats. He showed me features that a passenger wouldn't even think about such as the strength of the hinges on the upper class cocktail tray, and how the onboard bar stools are milled from a single aluminium block. I saw a sneak preview of the new Upper Class seats being fitted into Virgin's brand new 787 Dreamliner.
Controlling a world-wide fleet
It was really interesting getting to speak to the Operations Management team, who direct and manage flight schedules, allocate aircraft and communicate with all the pilots and airports. I got to see just how complex the scheduling was. Using their special flight tracking software I was able to see a sped up version of all of the flights arriving and departing in Gatwick Airport that morning, and it was very easy to see why Gatwick is the worlds busiest single runway airport!
I also met with Nina Jenkins who talked me through various aspects of design at Virgin. She showed me how the brand is presented and how much work goes into making a copy of VA's inflight Retail Therapy magazine. I learned how they would go about preparing for a photo shoot and saw a first look at the new version of Runway, an in house fashion magazine for crew. Suzy Wardle gave me an early preview of the brand new designs for the Virgin Atlantic App. Now with a fresh, modern design- its even easier to find a flight, or check in using your iPhone.
The whole experience was amazing and really insightful. As a long time and frequent traveler with Virgin Atlantic, it was great getting to see behind the scenes. I really got to see how much thought and time goes into every little detail across the whole airline. Next time I fly Virgin Atlantic, I'll defiantly notice the inspiring work of the incredible people I met, and I'm sure ill see some of the trade secrets I was let in to! A huge thank you to David Bulman, Craig Kreeger, and especially Nikki Reffel and Tim Graham.
Experience Virign Atlantic at virgin-atlantic.com