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« PPX: DAWNOK Pays Out | Main | Field Notes from the Emerging Technologies Conference at MIT »


Ralph Cramden

First, the satellite TV portion is supplied by Dish Network, not DirecTV. They run on competing systems.

Second, all tap functions are repeated on the handsets that are corded into the armrests. Perhaps a request to the person behind you to use the handset or press less vigorously would have elevated your experience.

Did you use the food ordering system? Did you charge your laptop with the power plugs? Was the service friendly or surly? What was your overall experience compared to flights you have taken on other airlines serving the route you flew on? As a consumer I am more interested in those factors than your discomfort from the person behind you.


Thanks for the Dish Network correction. I've changed it on the post. To answer your questions, I did use the food ordering system, and found it fairly easy to use (though I should note that, unlike the media player functions which you can operate via remote, you had to use the touchscreen to order food). However the flight attendent brought my food over an hour after I ordered it. She was very apolegetic when she did arrive. I also charged my laptop, which worked as advertised.

And of course I could have asked the person in back of me to not use the touchscreen, or to try to be more gentle, but the point of my complaint is that Virgin chose a design for their a/v system which naturally creates these unwanted and unpleasant side effects. I suspect that this design choice will diminish the flying experience for many if not most of their customers, and so chose to focus on it.

Ralph Too

Did your moniker come straight from “The Honeymooners”? Is it also possible that there could be an affiliation with the company in question here?

Regardless. If you had ever spent a flight being kicked, poked and/or pummeled by the individual behind you (whether they were aged 6 or 60) you would know that the other comments you made are essentially moot. There is no “pleasant experience” when you are constantly under barrage from behind.

Fabulous food doesn’t make up for it, nor do even the most attentive staff if you are on a full flight and the individual launching the relentless rear attack can’t be dissuaded or moved. The resulting misery is the “overall flight experience”.

So, as a consumer Mr. Cramdon, I am most interested in an airline who designs its product with ergonomic features that do not encourage the disruption of my flight experience by others. If the controls are repeated on the handsets corded into the armrests then that’s where they should be exclusively. Not placed where someone has the option to poke one in the back on a continual basis for hours at a time. Bravo for the idea but zero points for the execution. The criticisms made by Mr. Moyer are valid.

Ralph Cramden

Thanks Michael for the additional info and to Ralph Too for your comments. RC is my real name but alas, no Alice in my life. I am a design engineer and very interested in the functionality and human interface of products. I also travel quite a bit and certainly have experienced the kicking kid and drunk clod trying to execrate themselves from the seat behind by pulling & pushing the seat back. Where we differ is I consider those unpleasant experiences part of the lack of social graces in our society, not as a lousy airline. I wish we all could have more personal space when we travel but I cannot afford a private jet and like most am unwilling to pay for more space in first class.

I traveled on the old Song brand by Delta and noted the entertainment systems are from the same company. If my memory serves me, the Song system was all touch screen with no handset, so I would rate this as an improvement. I'm not quite sure if that system is available without the touch screen, and as a designer think it is wise to have both in the instance the handset or touch screen is inoperative.

Ralph Too, I don't think a service company actually designs the hardware but agree the software and user interface are within their control. With that in mind I look forward to traveling on them some day to test out the interface.

I also note from the picture it appears the seat back is a hard shell plastic on the "poker" side. Too bad it didn't diminish your "pokee" experience.

Again, thanks for the additional information. I initially posted because I feel your entire article was clouded by your poke experience. It certainly was a factor, but as a reader of your article I submit it left me wanting more.


Airplane seat designers need to isolate your seat from everyone elses. The food tray is just one example. Up/Down, all flight. Then the rude person who uses your seat to pull against to get up. Nevermind the fact you have a back problem and handle the strain. Then there is that "person" in the seat ahead of you who weighhs 90 pounds and has to have the seat reclined all the way into your face. I've almost had the screen on my laptop crushed when they suddenly slam the seat into the recline position. Ahhh, the pleasures of modern air travel .....


haven't flown virgin america yet, but I plan to at the first opportunity. I can appreciate how annoying it is to have a doofus seated directly behind you, but I think michael puts a bit too much blame on the airline. would you blame us airways or united if some idiot behind you kept pulling himself up by the top of your seat every time he had to hit the head? after all, the airline does provide space for him to put his hand (the back of your seat).

[note to virgin america: maybe a quick tutorial teaching passengers how to use the remote would be a good idea.]

a better comparison would be between virgin america and, say, united or delta, not between a theoretically perfect experience on VA and a realistically imperfect one. do you get a better overall experience on VA than the others? that's what matters.




What is the food selection like and the prices? I'm flying tomorrow and trying to decide whether to eat beforehand or order on the plane?


You can't "bring $8" for a movie on Virgin America. Cashless airline. You'd have to swipe your credit card for the person sitting behind you...

Dish Network

Which Dish Network package do they offer on the aircraft ? It would be very interesting to be able to watch satellite tv on a plane. I know JetBlue has somethign similar.


VirginAmerica=AWSOME but 1 BAD emp#135101 name=IAN

There was two of us with ONE 75 pound lugage checking in an Over weight lugage in San Francisco (SFO)
So, I stepped aside to re-packed it, then weighed 68 pounds. Only to be hassle again and then asked to weigh my carry on.

The carry-on weighed 35 pound for two of us.

The pushy IAN forced us to check our carry-on in because that too was overwieght. Split between two people would have been 17.5 pounds easily.

My Question is "Did IAN have a bad day with his boy friend or girl friend?"

IAN, Doing a job you don't like is worse than losing your job.


I agree with Mr. Moyer's article. The whole touch screen set up needs adjustments. I paid extra for those seats with extra legroom but had to share the armrest with a huge man. What would be the point of having all that ample legroom yet be squeezed sideways? Why not have each seat come with its own armrest. The big man next to me dropped his phone in the front plastic poucht. Three people labored to fish it out as the "pouch" doesn't expand, it's hard plastic.

Also, in spite of all the tech upgrades, the personal service on Virgin is awful. On more than one flight, staff have been snooty and condescending.


I like Virgin America. I think their touch screens on the back of every seat are great. I had no problems with the people behind me using theirs either -- my flight was full -- and I didn't even think of this until I read your article. I'm not saying it couldn't happen -- but I didn't tap hard on the screen.

Perhaps they could display a notice before using the touch screen that asked users not to tap hard but to lightly press so as not to bother the person sitting in front? Would that be a good compromise?

Dish Network Packages

Exactly....what Dish Network package do they offer ? Classic Bronze 100 ? Dish FAMILY ? America's "Everything" Pak ?

virgin credit card

I think their touch screens on the back of every seat are great. I had no problems with the people behind me using theirs either -- my flight was full -- and I didn't even think of this until I read your article. I'm not saying it couldn't happen -- but I didn't tap hard on the
virgin credit card

America private jet service

your site is very nice and useful for me, I bookmarked your blog

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