Page 5: The product
In developing a distinct and memorable brand, it was important that the features and benefits provided by the products reflected the core values of the brand. In other words the brand values had to symbolise a level of quality which Virgin would build into the product itself. For example, Virgin’s revolutionary Upper Class changed the face of business travel. Virgin Atlantic was also the first airline to supply a chauffeur driven car to collect passengers at their point of origin and transfer them to their final destination, both on their outward journey and return.
Passengers departing Heathrow who use this service can now utilise the innovative Drive Thru Check In, located adjacent to Terminal 3. The chauffeur communicates with the check in agents during the journey informing them of the passengers imminent arrival. On arriving at the Drive Thru Check In a porter will collect the passenger’s bags and hand them the pre-issued boarding pass and invitation to the award winning Clubhouse lounge. The passenger is then dropped off at the walkway opposite passport control which is only a short walk to the Clubhouse. All travellers are offered the opportunity to take advantage of a first class baggage allowance and separate check in. Once onboard, passengers can enjoy 55”-60” seat pitch, a first class sleeper seat and an onboard bar and lounge to relax in.
Virgin Atlantic operates one of the most generous frequent flyer programmes available - Virgin Freeway. After their first Upper Class round trip, a Freeway member will earn enough miles for two return flights between London and Europe. Miles can also be earned with Virgin’s partner airlines -SAS, Austrian Airlines, Sun Air, Air New Zealand and British Midland. You don’t need to get airborne to earn Freeway Miles either; Miles can be collected when members hire a car, book a hotel, fill up with petrol or make a long distance telephone call through selected Freeway partners and companies. American Express card members who are in their Membership Rewards Programme can transfer their points from the Card to Freeway Miles so they can enjoy many Virgin Freeway rewards. Rewards range from flights, car hire and hotel accommodation to leisure activities such as skydiving, a day at a health club or even a week on Necker, Richard Branson’s private Caribbean Island.
Virgin Atlantic was the first airline to offer full fare paying Economy passengers a special service – Premium Economy. Premium Economy offers facilities and service more comparable to a traditional short-haul business class. Passengers have a separate check in and priority baggage handling. Onboard there is a separate cabin, 38” seat pitch and wider seats with leg-rest and adjustable headrest. They have priority meal service with a choice of three entrees and complimentary drinks. Before and during the flight Premium Economy passengers receive complimentary champagne. Also available are a selection of newspapers and fresh fruit throughout the flight.
Virgin Atlantic’s Economy service was the first to provide every passenger with their own seatback TV screen, so that they can choose what they want to watch from a selection of up to 21 video channels plus 10 Nintendo games, 5 classic PC games and 7 audio channels. They also receive an amenity kit which includes a headset to keep after the flight, complimentary drinks and a choice of three hot meals.
In recent years, the development of brand values and the fostering of loyalty and confidence they represent, have helped Virgin Atlantic go from strength to strength. Virgin Atlantic has extended its network of routes across the world and has captured market share from leading players in the industry. In the summer of 1997 Virgin Atlantic took delivery of five new aircraft, three A340’s and two 747-400’s, increasing the fleet to 20. Building on their reputation of innovation and being at the forefront of in-flight technology Virgin Atlantic will become the world wide launch customer of the new Airbus A340-600 in 2002.