The 57-year-old is the head of the Virgin Group, which includes startup airline Virgin America, set to launch service from New York City and L.A. to its home at San Francisco International Airport on Wednesday.
Someone paid $5,400 on eBay to ride with you on the inaugural flight from New York to San Francisco. What kind of party is this person getting for all that? They’ll get their money’s worth. First of all, there are musicians on board, comedians on board. If they get bored with those, they can come and talk to me. If they get bored with that … we have more films than any other airline. There’s mood lighting, so they can sleep if they want. If they have a first-class seat, they can press a button so it gives them a massage. There will be lots of champagne, the best California wine and very good food.
Describe the best party you’ve ever attended. The best party I’ve ever attended was when we only had one airplane and we were flying from New York to London on our inaugural flight for Virgin Atlantic, in 1984. I think there was more champagne consumed than any party I’ve ever been to. I believe in partying. … There are 60,000 people who work for Virgin and they work very hard.
Why did the company decide to base itself in the Bay Area? Quite a few of them kite-surf, and I’m a big kite-surfer, and kite-surfing is based in San Francisco, so that’s the principal reason we decided to be based in San Francisco. That’s the fun reason … San Francisco didn’t have an airline based right there … Virgin America and San Francisco, I suspect they have similar politics. The people of San Francisco are liberal-minded people, and Virgin America’s a liberal-minded company. It’s the perfect marriage, anyway.
Check out more 3-minute interviews from our San Francisco newsroom.