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International adventures with Virgin America

International adventures with Virgin America

This week marked a very big day for the little airline that could… Virgin America, three years old this coming August, became an international carrier by starting service from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Toronto. Thanks to Virgin America, Canada’s hi-tech and entertainment capital will now be more stylishly and affordably linked to California’s hi tech and entertainment hubs. We celebrated the service with a new plane called Air Drake, in honour of Toronto hometown superstar Drake (#1 on Billboard charts in North America). The Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and I flew the first leg, from LAX-SFO, where we announced up at 35k ft that Virgin America’s second international destination would be Mexico (Cabo and Cancun). Muy caliente!

At SFO, we were greeted by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who congratulated the airline for its successful efforts to grow jobs and make the city and state very proud indeed. We picked up more passengers – including successful business leaders like Thompson Hotel founder Jason Pomeranc and Method cleaning product founder Eric Ryan who helped mentor aspiring young entrepreneurs on board - and our full party flight took off for YYZ.

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While Virgin America CEO David Cush and I talked with the media about the airline’s steady growth and commitment to sustainability, the rest of the guests enjoyed sparkly drinks, surfing on the internet, live football matches on seatback TV, and chatting up people in the aisles (including with Gilles Marini, TV star and a People Magazine Sexiest Man of the Year – from the response he got, not many women have forgotten his neighbourly shower scene in the Sex and the City movie). OK... I joined in on the fun as well.

We landed on Canadian soil to a water cannon salute, Canadian Mounties, and a swift and painless customs process. Drake, who couldn’t have been a nicer lad, and I thanked the enthusiastic welcome reception with - what else? - more champagne.

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Toronto’s international hook-up with Virgin America continued at the brand new Thompson Hotel, where we threw a party for 500 of some of our favorite friends and family. It was truly a family affair, with companies like Virgin Mobile Canada, Virgin Gaming, Virgin Radio, and others welcoming the newest kid in town. Congratulations to the brilliant teammates and staff from Virgin America, who deserve so much thanks for their excellent customer service and the success of their first international launch!

Three media events in three cities and two countries and two parties later, I was ready to get back on the ground and back to work. Virgin Mobile Canada have started a new Red Glove service to help speed up phone replacements for specially selected members. So off I went to Toronto’s Distillery District to hand deliver a new phone in exchange for a broken one. The member couldn’t have been more surprised that I turned up at the door... but more delighted to get his phone service back so quickly! I was happy to lend Ryver, the Virgin Angel running this program, a helping hand that morning and pleased to meet another happy member of Virgin Mobile Canada.

On to my next assignment!

 

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