Virgin America’s new safety video is a Dance-Off directed by Hollywood’s Jon M. Chu

Apparently, in-flight safety videos have become extensions of airline brands.

Virgin America is the latest airline to release a new slickly produced safety video. It did so on Tuesday, releasing what amounts to be a five-minute dance video, with some safety tips sprinkled in. It was directed by Jon M. Chu, of mild Hollywood fame. (In the unlikely case you saw “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” you are familiar with Chu’s work.

This is not the type of video an airline just slaps together. In a September article, the New York Times detailed all that went into producing Virgin’s video. Wrote the Times:

Enter the new safety video, window dressing to some but deeply symbolic to Virgin. To refresh its original video, it initially worked with another Branson brand, Virgin Produced in Los Angeles, to select possible directors. It ultimately homed in on Mr. Chu, who embraced Virgin’s notion to find a creative way to use sound, maybe music, in its video.

As the meeting started, Mr. Chu offered ideas for music and choreography. They talked about using the natural sounds of the aircraft — the click of the seat belt, the closing of the overhead bin — and having the action move from the airplane to a more theatrical setting. Mr. McMillin took it all in, intrigued — liking the chemistry and ambition and trying to figure out the line between excitement and propriety.

What do you think of the video? Should airlines jazz up these demos?

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L.A. Council Member Mike Bonin wants to see LAX ground transport center — and soon

PowerPoint Presentation

The process is still ongoing, but Los Angeles Council Member Mike Bonin has made his decision. He wants Los Angeles International Airport to build a new ground transportation center about a mile east of the terminals, one that will connect with two Metro trains — the Green Line and the Crenshaw Line.

The center, pictured above, would connect with an people mover built by the airport that would take passengers to terminals. But passengers could actually check in and drop their bags at the center. They wouldn’t need to lug them on the people mover.

The major problem is that both Metro trains would have to be re-routed from their current paths to reach the center. It’s certainly possible, but Metro officials told me recently that such an exercise is difficult. And Metro has to go through a whole process, mandated by the feds, before it can choose how it will connect its trains to LAX. (A cheaper option would be for the airport to build a people mover and have it go to where there is already a Metro station.)

On Monday, Bonin and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti met with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx in Washington to discuss the ground transportation proposal. Bonin said it went well.

“It was good to talk to the Secretary of Transportation to make sure that we have partners at the federal level who can help us navigate this and make sure everything goes smoothly,” Bonin said. “They understand that L.A. has historically failed to make the common sense connection to the airport through rail. They seemed eager to support us in our efforts to correct that mistake.”

A ground transportation hub has always been in the airport’s plans, but under former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, no one talked about it, and it was always considered something that would happen far in the future. Now, however, it seems urgent.

Bonin told me city officials hope they can break ground by the time President Obama leaves office in January 2017. Considering the hurdles Metro must clear before then, that seems ambitious. But who knows?

Whatever happens, Bonin said city officials want to make sure the project is done right.

“I think one of the things that the mayor and I have in common is a shared agenda in transportation and a shared desire to make sure that the mistakes that have been made in the past are not made again,” Bonin said. “We don’t want to have a reputation as the city that almost does the right thing in transportation. It’s not good enough to almost get to the airport. We have to connect.”

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L.A./Ontario International Airport: Volaris receives U.S. government OK to fly to Guadalajara


Volaris airlines, the Mexican discount carrier, received permission last week from the U.S. Department of Transportation to begin flying between L.A./Ontario International Airport and Guadalajara, Mexico.

If and when the airline actually starts service in another story. I have reached out to Volaris officials but have not heard back. The airport manager, Jess Romo, told me in an email that the service is still in the preliminary stages.

“Volaris has still not advised LAWA on any new service to/from ONT,” Romo said. “I may have mentioned that oftentimes foreign carriers make applications to a number of US cities without definitive air service plans.  We will continue our outreach and stand ready to help support new service here at ONT.”

The Ontario airport is not doing so well these days, and any new service there is a big deal. The airport has lost more than 40 percent of its traffic since 2007. My colleague, Liset Marquez, recently wrote that things were so bad that the TGI Friday’s closed.

Even if Volaris does open the new flight, it will not actually be a new route for Ontario Airport. Aeromexico already flies between Ontario and Guadalajara.

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Delta Air Lines carried most passengers in July 2013

From the treasure trove of data that is the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, we know  about what major U.S. airlines were doing in July.

Here are, according to BTS, the “Top 10 U.S. Airlines, ranked by January-July 2013 Scheduled Systemwide (Domestic and International) Enplanements.”

Any surprises?

Rank Airline Jul 2013 Enplaned Passengers % change ’12 to ’13
1 Delta 11.6 million 3.2
2 Southwest 10.5 million 0.7
3 United 8.4 million -4.7
4 American 8.1 million 1.2
5 US Airways 5.2 million 7.5
6 JetBlue 2.9 million 5.6
7 ExpressJet 2.9 million -1.2
8 Skywest 2.5 million 1.1
9 Alaska 1.9 million 8.7
10 Air Tran 1.7 million -23.3
Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Reddit Tumblr Email wants to make sure you pick the right airline seat

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In coach, how important are creature comforts to you? Do you just want the lowest fare? Or do you need to make sure you have stuff like on-demand video, in-seat power and internet?

If you like your comforts, even in coach, you might want to check out the website, whose slogan is “Find the happiest flight for the lowest price.” Above is a recent search for the Los Angeles to London route.

The fine folks at RouteHappy are also trying to call attention to the fact that not every airline configures its airplanes in the same way. Most importantly, on the Boeing 777, some airlines install 9 seats across, while some install 10. There’s usually no discount for flights on the more cramped 777 version, so you might as well book on the comfortable version.

Here’s what RouteHappy has to say on the matter:

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