I feel the same way about Sir Richard Branson that I do about an octogenarian with a dodgy heart and a winning Powerball ticket. I’ve never met him, but I love him.
And wealth is not the motivator (okay, it is in the case of the old lottery guy) but not in Branson’s case. I love him for trying to bring passion (and a dash of humor) back to flying. I look at the classic photographs of passengers on the Pan Am Clipper and yearn for the novelty and romance of the journey. Not the shoe-removing, liquid-quantifying, soul-less transport of today.
When most travel articles talk about the brilliant things airlines are doing for their passengers, they mean the rarified business travelers who are blessed with everything from warm towels, nuts, and chocolate chip cookies, to private suites, personal chefs, and free-flowing champagne.
For the rest of us, air travel can be hell on retractable wheels. But Virgin Atlantic is different. I recently flew Virgin from JFK to Heathrow (in economy, not upper class so this is not the scribbling of some drunken toff). The flight attendants seemed genuinely happy to see me; there were interesting movies and I could get my Shah Rukh Khan/Bollywood fix. My Asian curry was delicious and the hot chocolate was a sweet touch. It's the fun of flying (in economy, no less!) and I welcome it back.