It’s a rare day when I agree with what Virgin America is doing, but I have to say that they’ve made some really strong changes to the Red inflight entertainment system. My guess is that this should help them bump up their ancillary revenues, and they desperately need that to happen.
The big change is that there is now inflight shopping via Red. It’s a natural extension when you have internet, personal screens, and a captive audience. The shopping is powered by SkyMall, so the next time you need a toilet paper iPod holder or wine glass holder necklace, you know where to go. Come on, admit it. You love flipping through the SkyMall catalog on the plane. And you know you’ve been tempted to buy something while flying but couldn’t pull the trigger because you had to wait until you hit the ground, by which time you’d already realized it was a bad idea.
But now, you won’t have to wait. And as if that’s not enough, you’ll earn frequent flier points when you buy something. Two points per dollar, so that means you’ll get 460 points when you buy that foot tanner. I believe they’ll be running a special offer as well. Buy terminal space at Chicago O’Hare, give it to the airline, and you’ll get quadruple points!
I’m still not sure why SkyMall is so compelling. Maybe it’s the thin oxygen-deprived air, but now Virgin America will help you act on your impulse. It’s about time they make Red earn its keep. Red ain’t cheap. But just in case the thin air isn’t enough to get you to open that wallet, Virgin America will help push you along by getting you drunk.
That’s right. Another feature of the new Red is an open bar tab. It’s not actually just a bar tab. Basically, anything you purchase during the flight – movies, food, drinks, etc – will go on a tab and then you swipe your card once to pay for everything. This avoids the annoyance of having to whip your card out regularly, and it will undoubtedly encourage people to spend more. Why do you think bars allow people to keep tabs? Because when you don’t pay every time, you drink more.
Drunk people + crazy shopping opportunites = ancillary revenue gold!
As Allegiant has shown quite nicely, you don’t need to make money flying airplanes as long as you can make up for it elsewhere.