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Is this some kind of test for creeps?

I watched this ad for a new service unbelievingly. Who at Virgin America thought this was a good idea?

Maybe it’s a kind of psychological test — a kind of video gom jabbar. If you’re watching it and thinking that this is a wonderful idea for all involved — the men get to be generous and charming, the women get free alcohol and compliments — then you’re an animal. If you watch it and are appalled at the attempt to use access to unwilling, trapped women as an enticement to use his commercial airline, you pass the humanity test.

If you don’t see it yet, read this account of a woman who was harrassed on a flight without Richard Branson’s facilitation. Are you getting a little closer to humanity yet?

If not, one more thought. Watch the video. Imagine yourself buying a ticket to get access to hot chicks on the flight. Imagine all the hot chicks watching this same video, and immediately rebooking their flights to a different airline. Imagine boarding the flight to discover it’s entirely occupied by leering lechers who are peering around the cabin looking for the available women.

I know I don’t want to be on that flight. I’m not going to be on that flight. Virgin America won’t be getting my business.

Comments

  1. vaiyt says

    Yeah, let’s turn a fucking plane into the wet dream of date rapists everywhere. Whoops! Shouldn’t have booked that flight, ladies! Why didn’t you jump away?

  2. voidhawk says

    *Sigh* At first I hoped, really hoped you were just over-reacting. After all the first part about delivering a check with trained puppies and sky-writing space-ships was surely too absurd to cause offense to anybody (except perhaps people annoyed at a man getting hyper-rich from effectively cannibalising public services)

    And then… that. Hopefully people have the ability to take themselves off that service?

  3. Onamission5 says

    In addition to the over the moon creep level factor of turning a cross country flight to Grandma’s funeral into the worst dive bar experience ever, who wants to bet that the first guy to send a pre-paid drink or food item and have it turned down is *still* going to behave as though the intended recipient owes him something? Ala, “It’s not MY fault you have a food allergy!” or “How was I supposed to know you’re a recovering alcoholic?? Now I’m out ten bucks!”

    Methinks that someone hasn’t thought this through sans dudebro advisory committee.

  4. pixelfish says

    http://www.virginamerica.com/contact-us.html – if you want to mention that an airplane at 35K feet is an inappropriate place to flirt with strangers, seeing as how they are trapped and can’t leave.

    I got stuck in one of those situations once. It turned an already tense experience into a real anxiety-churner.

    Like Voidhawk, I thought the first part was absurdly over the top….but then they turned it into a “use our Seat-to-Seat to hit on folks”. Meh. Allergy concerns, feeling beholden, etc…this is just a recipe for more anxiety production.

  5. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Are they fucking kidding? Forcing people in a sealed metal tube who are already uncomfortable to know that at any minute some stranger can command their attention with a forced social interaction? Seriously—how did ANYONE at VA think this was acceptable?

  6. says

    Funny thing – I heard NPR report about this this morning, and one of the remarks from a Virgin Airlines passenger was along the lines of, “Oh, yeah, hitting on people in an enclosed space which nobody can possibly leave–great idea!!” Sarcastic, of course.

    The power of #FTBullies extends farther than I ever dreamed!

  7. pixelfish says

    Oh, double ugh. Just realised they are promoting it on the front page of their site as “Tell us how you’d press your luck.” Thanks, Virgin.

  8. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    I really can’t believe this. It’s so astoundingly. . astounding. Madder and madder the more I think about it.

  9. pixelfish says

    I’ve tweeted them too, online. I love their flights, I find their lighting and music choices relaxing, and one of the reasons I love to fly them is because they help reduce my anxiety. I’m not keen that they are promoting programs which might increase my anxiety.

  10. The Mellow Monkey says

    “Tell us how you’d press your luck.”

    So they’re purposefully playing up a predatory angle on this?

    Yeah, press your luck when the object of your attention is trapped. There is absolutely nothing rape-y in this idea whatsoever.

  11. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Wait, pixelfish—they actually force you to listen to music? Please tell me it’s not on the PA system where you can’t get away from it.

  12. Onamission5 says

    My email, entitled “re: Your new in flight stalking and sexual harassment assistance program”

    Thank you for making it crystal clear that Virgin is not a safe airline for women, people with social anxiety, people with food allergies or recovering alcoholics. It is rare these days that a corporation will come right out and say out loud in public that the only people whose business they care about are horny slimeballs who think they can earn the right to someone’s time and attention with a single overpriced, pre-paid drink or food item, so how refreshing it was when I became aware of your brand spanking new in-flight pro-sexual harassment campaign! Women definitely do not have enough of entitled jerks in our daily lives, so thank you so much for extending non-safe spaces to also encompass tin cans hurtling along at 30K feet with nowhere else to go! I now know exactly which airline I will not be using on my upcoming trip to the west coast. Thanks for making that decision so much easier than it would have been. I couldn’t have (not) done it without you.

    Too snarky, you say? I say not snarky enough.

  13. says

    That’s… kinda weird. I can think of so many ways that this could lead to horribly awkward and uncomfortable situations.
    I wonder, will there be some employee guidelines for how to act if the recipient refuses the drink or snack? Will there be some kind of system to regulate the kind of comments that people send?
    Will there be a registry to prevent seriously creepy people from giving detailed descriptions of what they want to put where? If a dude is creepy and offensive to one woman, will the airline keep a record of it ad prevent him from using the system in the future? If not, can the next target sue the airline for facilitating creepy, stalkerish behavior?

  14. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    It’s not “kind of weird.” It’s outrageous. It’s appalling. There is no way to make it acceptable except to not do it. They apparently don’t care that their flight attendants, largely women, will be forced as part of their job to help scumbags harass women. I’m so disgusted by this.

  15. says

    Will they at least have an opt-out mechanic? You know “I’m trying to get some sleep, so fuck off with your goddamn bag of peanuts.”

    Incidentally, that’s another question; if the recipient is asleep at the time the snack is ordered, do the cabin personnel wake them up or do they wait until the recipient wakes up? If the recipient doesn’t wake up until it’s time to land, does the person giving the snack get a refund?

    So many questions.

  16. says

    I really wonder about who came up with this and thought it was a good idea. I’m thinking for two minutes, and I’m seeing nothing but red flags.

  17. chigau (違う) says

    This must be some kind of short-term promotional gimmick, but the whole marketing department should still be fired.

  18. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    And let’s be clear: This sucks for everyone. Bracket off the obvious harassment angle and the disproportionate burden this would place on women, just for argument’s sake. This is a system that encourages incredible, intrusive rudeness. No one needs a special reason to hate this. NO ONE wants to be forced into social discourse of any sort on an airplane. Do they not understand their passengers are actual human people?

  19. ftltachyon says

    Dammit – this is ridiculous.

    I want Virgin America to succeed, their flight have the best amenities, with power outlets and food you can order and such. But this policy is just despicable.

  20. kitty says

    I actually thought it was some sort of parody. That is, until I looked it up and found out it was a real company. And then found out that it’s an actual ‘feature’.

  21. says

    Branson has gone insane.

    Solution: Free personal sized pepper spray for the Ladies!. Hey, if it works for the NRA……

    …..no, wait. Wut?

    Seriously, this is where I start asking myself over and over again how it is that I’ve been transported off my own planet and put down here–clearly a stoopidz and evil parallel Earth plane thingy right out of the Twilight Zone.

    But Goddamnit people are stoopidz! To paraphrase Sagan: “Having a big shitload of money is no guarantee against being dead fucking wrong.”

  22. screechymonkey says

    As Dennis Miller once said back when he was funny instead of a conservative hack, “I think it’s great that we have non-smoking sections on planes. Now we just need to go one step further and have a non-speaking section.”

  23. pixelfish says

    @Josh: I wouldn’t say it’s forced any more than mall music or other ambient music is forced, but while you board, they play light soothing ambient music before their announcments and video. (I love their safety video–always makes me smile. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyygn8HFTCo ) I actually like it. It doesn’t play during the flight though, although if you do like it, you can listen to it over their headsets. In general their amenities and service are awesome, and their coach seats are the second widest in the industry, two inches wider than many other airlines. But….this is a serious misstep.

  24. Lofty says

    Mr Branson, I know that you are stinking rich, but what part of “no means no” don’t you understand?

  25. says

    I search Virgin’s FAQ for info about their “seat to seat delivery” policy. Funny, but there’s nothing there that mentions this… wonder why…

  26. kylemarquis says

    If this service goes live, it’ll be an exciting race to see what gets it canceled first: a sexual harassment lawsuit or an attempted gay-bashing.

    Or someone sending twelve espressos to kids on the far side of the plane.

  27. ChasCPeterson says

    First places of work, then elevators, then conferences, then bars at conferences and now airplanes?
    At this rate, pretty soon sexual harrassment will be limited to construction sites and and the C train only.
    You bullies are just anti-fun.

  28. says

    This is a marketing gimmick and it’s working exactly as planned. This will never go live. Branson is the king of the idea that there is no such thing as bad press.

    That he would victimize women to score a few bazillion blog posts and facebook posts talking about his company does not speak well of him. I used to root for his Virgin Galactic project, now I just want to see it and him go down in flames.

    Wait, not literally. I don’t literally want to see him blow up in his spaceship. I mean that completely figuratively, of course. I think I do, at least I’m pretty sure, no no, really, I mean that figuratively.

  29. says

    Another thought,

    If someone gets obnoxious on a flight and causes a disturbance, very often that leads to flight being grounded asap and/or the offender being arrested upon landing.

    Given the history of women being castigated for calling out their harassers, how long would it be before we have the Adria Richards of domestic flights on our hands? When someone calls out the harasser at 35,000 feet and gets the flight grounded because the harasser flips out and causes a disturbance?

    Airline flights are not sky parties. Some asshole is going to see this ad campaign and ask his Jet Blue flight attendant to deliver a drink for him and get obnoxious if either the flight attendant or intended recipient refuse, guaranteed, and the internets will go crazy and send the would be harassee rape and death threats. You read it here first kids…

  30. Acolyte of Sagan says

    erikthebassist
    26 April 2013 at 6:46 pm
    This is a marketing gimmick and it’s working exactly as planned.

    Agreed. After all, this is the man whose TV advert for Virgin Media shows him levitating in the lotus position whilst making whale song noises. He is on the verge of ‘doing a Bono’ and completely disappearing up his own arse.

  31. Eristae says

    Yeah, for a while I thought this was funny. I was sitting here thinking, “Hey, I don’t see what’s so bad about this. Speaking puppies with checks for charity? Sub-orbital spaceship? Pole-valting into a hot air balloon? Hilarious!”

    and then we hit the “If you need a more cost effective alternative…” and suddenly the whole advertizement caught fire and began plummeting to the ground like a hot air balloon that’s been hit by a sub-orbital spaceship. I mean, I’m not even inherently against some mild, friendly, non-invasive flirting on an airplane, but Jesus fuck they’ve managed to make the whole thing intense, creepy, and invasive. Oi.

    *sigh*

    On a more pedantic note, how is this service even supposed to work? I’ve been on a fair share of airplanes, and it isn’t like you can plan on there being a surplus of seats so you can go sit next to the person or that the other passengers will be happy if you stand in the isle chattering.

  32. Ogvorbis, broken failure. says

    Many years ago, proto-Wife and I got to go to the Bahamas (courtesy of my Future-in-Laws (her parents)). We left Boston (Logan) in a snow storm. After a seven-hour delay. Once we were airborne, with upset and frustrated vacationers, they decided that all drinks were free. Yeah. Drunk frustrated tired people. In an aluminum tube. Great idea.

    And this would be infinitely worse.

  33. says

    I can’t even bring myself to watch the video. I really can’t imagine this going anyplace good, and even if I could in theory imagine such a thing, I still hate the idea intensely.

  34. The Mellow Monkey says

    erikthebassist

    If someone gets obnoxious on a flight and causes a disturbance, very often that leads to flight being grounded asap and/or the offender being arrested upon landing.

    Given the history of women being castigated for calling out their harassers, how long would it be before we have the Adria Richards of domestic flights on our hands? When someone calls out the harasser at 35,000 feet and gets the flight grounded because the harasser flips out and causes a disturbance?

    I imagine harassment on planes happens all the time, but the victims are bullied into silence. A friend of mine was fondled against his will by the person next to him and when he complained, the flight attendants said the flight was full and the other man couldn’t be moved, so my friend just needed to shut up and take it and not make a scene. If he did, the problem would be with him and not the fondler.

    This is one of the reasons why I find the idea of encouraging pushy behavior on planes so horrifying. I’ve already heard exactly how it goes down.

  35. pixelfish says

    ErikTheBassist: It’s actually live and promoted on Virgin America’s site. As far as I can tell, this is an active service and they’re asking people to tell their stories to win a trip to Vegas. (It’s the second component in the content carousel on their front page.)

  36. says

    Yes, it’s a real service that they are touting on their website: http://www.virginamerica.com/inflight/airline-amenities.html Lovely. “Seat-to-Seat Delivery:
    Treat a travel companion or break the ice by sending a drink, meal, or snack to another seat with our Red™ touch screen entertainment system. Just browse our in-flight menus, select who’s having one on you, make your order, and we’ll deliver it directly to your guest of choice.”

    I wonder if they’ll throw a drink in someone’s face for you if you find their advances particularly obnoxious?

  37. ck says

    There’s probably an easy fix for this: Instead of making it opt-out, make the seat-to-seat thing opt-in. I think they’ll get the idea pretty quickly when nearly no one opts to take part in this.

  38. says

    I hope they’re providing security and education for their staff that are going to execute this insane plan.

    Not that I have anything against the idea of meeting people via sharing peanuts. And hopefully the majority of people willing to share peanuts are not scary.

    Honestly, wouldn’t flights be alot better if they were friendlier and involved more snacks?

  39. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    Can they include a “reject this with extreme prejudice” option that will (for a modest surcharge), eject the creep?

  40. says

    When someone calls out the harasser at 35,000 feet and gets the flight grounded because the harasser flips out and causes a disturbance?

    What happens now?

    I hope their staff is equipped and educated for this. Or will be. It’s not like it doesn’t already happen.

  41. says

    @ Onamission5 #15

    Too snarky, you say? I say not snarky enough.

    I do not think that’s possible. There’s not enough snark in the universe to do justice to this.

    @ erikthebassist #35

    That he would victimize women to score a few bazillion blog posts and facebook posts talking about his company does not speak well of him.

    This is far more likely than an actual “in-flight service.” I wonder if this gets Virgin in trouble with the FTC if it does prove a hoax.

    Slightly off-topic:
    I have a problem with Virgin America’s business practices already. They stranded me at Dulles a few years ago. The hotel they sent us to did not honor the room service coupons VA issued us. They said that the last time Virgin America sent them passengers it had stranded one ran up a $150 room service tab then Virgin refused to honor it. Branson’s net worth at the time was $2.5 billion. The airline had a cow over a $150 room service bill that a passenger it stranded ran up?! Really? Then no one told the VA staff on the ground that the hotel no longer honored to meal tickets. Brilliant.

    Branson calls himself a “self-made man” on his Forbes/Fortune bios. What is it about men with very well-off wealthy parents, men who attended high priced private schools and had mommy and/or daddy bail them out of tight spots later on declare themselves “self-made”??!! No wonder he’s so delusional he thinks this gimmick is a good idea.

  42. profpedant says

    Branson could turn this into a “way-cool social app” (do I have the vernacular correct?) if instead of sending the drink and mash note to the person in Seat D4 on that same flight it was instead sent to someone on a randomly selected Virgin flight taking place later that same day. This would completely avoid the ‘being trapped in a metal tube with your annoyer’ aspect of things. The person who sent you the drink, or the peanuts, or whatever, is on a different flight, doesn’t know what flight you are on, and has probably already landed at wherever they are headed to and dispersed into the countryside.

    The variation of Mr. Branson’s application may seem utterly pointless to the discerning consumer, but this is a distinction without a difference because the application as proposed seems pretty darn pointless – unless the point is to annoy a lot of people. In my not-so-humble-opinion anyone who cannot politely manage to interact with someone they find attractive in a way that even the shyest of the most reclusive, disinterested in several ways, generally annoyed, and thoroughly overwhelmed by the journey, person sees as “the behavior of a friendly respectful human” has no business trying to make any greater acquaintance of anyone in an enclosed area than is required by being publicly acceptable. However, the app. could be fun on a charter flight in which everyone pointlessly buys a drink for the person in the adjacent seat – the pointless complication could enliven an otherwise dull flight. But that is about it.

  43. AtheistPowerlifter says

    This to me feels like a parody, written by an asshole, that just went wrong and doesn’t work.

    It’s not funny. It’s not ‘charming’ (my impression for some reason as I watched was that Branson thinks he’s just as charming and affable as heck). It’s creepy and off-putting.

    As if I could afford to fly Virgin anyway. Not that I would anymore.

    AP

  44. says

    I was browsing imgur a few days ago and saw some text chat screenshots from Virgin. They were trolling horndogs and I thought it was funny, but from what I have read is an opt-in system where you can join chat rooms and choose to take part in it. At least I hope that is the case. But this is obviously very different, and very creepy.

    On a side note:

    Once we were airborne, with upset and frustrated vacationers, they decided that all drinks were free.

    I thought free drinks were standard on most international flights. At least that is my experience with BA, Lufthansa, and Air Canada. To be honest I always liked it and have never seen any sort of incident occur. It definitely made that 10 hour flight quite a bit more bearable.

  45. kpbvic says

    Horrible, but not as surprising to people from British Columbia as it might be for the rest of you. Check out this news story of Sir Richard inviting our female Premier (equivalent to a state Governor in the US) to ride on his back naked while he kite-surfs.

    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2012/05/29/richard_branson_invites_bc_premier_christy_clark_to_kitesurf_naked.html

    I used to think he was just a brash go-getter, but I’m gradually realizing that he is a seriously self-entitled sleazebag.

  46. brianl says

    This and in-flight chat have been in the works since the airline launched. It was on the Red menu but not functional on the first flight I took with them. I fly Virgin when I can, and I’ve been surprised that their look and feel is starting to date so badly (they haven’t really upgraded anything since they launched, and their brand is built on hipness). Plus their reservation site is far less functional than it was years ago (no idea how someone backslides a web interface so badly).
    Oh, and their in-flight internet provider rebills automatically without authorization (I suspect it’s their business model).
    With all that, they’re still better than the other options available, especially cross-country (of course, I don’t need to worry about the harassment).

  47. HidariMak says

    Considering how Virgin Airlines also purchased “Loose Change 2″ for their inflight entertainment lineup at one point, a lack of rational thought and common sense doesn’t seem that surprising from them.

    Also, I had to chuckle at “Imagine boarding the flight to discover it’s entirely occupied by leering lechers who are peering around the cabin looking for the available women.” It bought me back to Al Qaida promising “70 virgins”, with the newly departed terrorists saying to each other “you were expecting women too?”

  48. says

    WTF?
    I mean, I can see that some people thought this add/campaign a good idea, but do only jerks work there so nobody with a working mind was there to stop them?
    Doesn’t matter if it’s “just a joke” or not, creeps, stalkers, harassers and their kind will feel encouraged. Safe space for dudebros, I guess…

  49. says

    Talking about ads gone horribly wrong, there is also this :

    In the ad, a middle-aged man breathes in what appears to be car exhaust fumes in his car that is parked in a garage. But hours later and without any words, he emerges from the garage. The words displayed at the end of the ad are: “The New ix35 With 100% Water Emissions.”

    *blink*

  50. captainchaos says

    You really can be a humourless sourpuss, PZ. And that goes for most of you in here.

    I’d like to point out that during the part where he’s describing the actual service, and not parodying himself as a funny, over the top example (and since he’s a straight man the fact that the object of his affection would be a woman is entirely unremarkable), he clearly says “his or her” and the graphics are all unisex. This “man vs woman” thing is all in your heads.

    I’d also like to point out how incredibly sexist (ironically) well meaning protestations like this are. As if women are all a bunch of fragile and defenseless bunnies who need to be protected from the big bad manclan by a code of honour because otherwise they would be our (I happen to have a Y chromosome, yes) helpless victims.

    And another thing: why the fuck do I get a popup ad when trying to login here? Talk about sleazy practices!

  51. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    This “man vs woman” thing is all in your heads.

    Er, no. That men pester women they don’t know more than women pester men they don’t know is part of social reality. Something with which you appear to be entirely unacquainted.

  52. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    One thing in the advert I can agree with: early on, Branson says “enough about me”. I’d heard quite enough about Branson 30 years ago.

  53. says

    You really can be a humourless sourpuss, PZ. And that goes for most of you in here.

    5 bucks for Planned Parenthood on caiptaichaos being a guy. Anybody interested in losing 5 bucks and holding against my bet?
    Yeah, there are clearly no stereotypes AND real life experiences about men buying women drinks and then feeling entitled to her attention. Sure, just by using unisex wording all that doesn’t exist and has never existed.
    Really, it’s not like guys everywhere feel like it’s ok to pester women and engage their attention.
    That’s all in our heads.

  54. John Morales says

    [OT]

    captainchaos:

    You really can be a humourless sourpuss, PZ. And that goes for most of you in here.

    Can you?

  55. crocodoc says

    Why is everybody so upset? Them fuckmuffins get free drinks from us generous, superior, clever guys, just for listening to our tales of success – isn’t that great for everyone?

  56. Louis says

    Whilst, of course, I agree this is bloody odious, I feel a deep seated need to exploit it and subvert it to my drunken ends.

    1) Take one crowd of Norty Lads.

    2) Start sending each other drinks at random, drinks that must be drunk.

    3) Poor airline staff.

    Wait….this isn’t an upside is it? Okay, plan 2:

    1) Put on skirt to look like Sexy Lady™ (as if overweight ex rugby players can look like traditional, stereotypical sexy ladies…but I digress).

    2) Simper winsomely in plane.

    3) Get free drinks.

    Nope…that’s a crap plan too. I see no upside here really either. The drinks are free on Virgin flights anyway.

    Thus I must render my totally humourless disapproval with a wagging finger and a Stern Look.

    Louis

  57. Louis says

    Giliell, #60,

    I’ll take that bet one one condition. You bet against me, to the tune of £1000, that Captainchaos is a point missing prannock of the first water. I propose he is such a prannock.

    Deal? When can I expect my ~£995?

    Louis

  58. ChasCPeterson says

    is that what the kids are calling it these days?

    But seriously folks, I was stupid enough to track down the photos of this guy Branson kite-surfing with a naked woman (a pro model, of course) on his back.

    Christ, what a skeeve.

  59. Eurasian magpie says

    I thought for a moment it was Branson kite-surfing naked, with a woman on his back. Hasn’t he done some skin-dipping stunts before?

  60. DLC says

    less of a gom jabbar and more of a Sorting Hat.
    As in: those who think this is a good idea need sorting out.

  61. eleutheria says

    This is nuts.

    It’s already way too annoying when women send me drinks at a bar.

    Now, I gotta be wary that they’re going to be sending me drinks and “goodies” while I’m on a flight?

    No thanks.

  62. says

    Two more bad scenarios to add to the list:

    Religious/cultural harassment. How long before some asshole decides to send a bag of pork rinds to a Muslim (or someone who “looks Muslim”)?

    Or how about if you send a snack to another passenger and that person goes into anaphylactic shock?
    They didn’t realize that the snack contained the thing they were allergic to because they didn’t order it themselves, and you didn’t know to avoid it because it’s just some stranger you’re trying to flirt with.

    If I was a lawyer, I’d be drooling at the opportunities.

  63. Tapetum, Raddled Harridan says

    Fortunately I already don’t fly Virgin, nor does my husband, so I can stick with my pre-existing method for dealing with obnoxious dudes on airplanes. Pulling up the photos and talking proudly about my day-job – as a karate and self-defense instructor. Works like a charm.

  64. says

    Hey guys, captianchoas thinks we’re a bunch of no-fun sourpusses because we think the idea of randomly soliciting people with unasked for goodies is a not the best idea on a flight.

    Don’t you just feel shamed? I feel just awful.

    *mops up the excess sarcasm*

  65. says

    As if women are all a bunch of fragile and defenseless bunnies who need to be protected from the big bad manclan by a code of honour because otherwise they would be our (I happen to have a Y chromosome, yes) helpless victims.

    Hear that ladies? The way to prove how Strong™ you are is to never admit that anything bothers or hurts you. Speaking up to protest things you don’t like? That makes you weak and defenseless. Shutting the fuck up about it and shoving those feelings way deep down? Makes you Powerful™ and, shall we say, possible even Manly™, and, as we all know, manliness is synonymous with power, strength, and goodness. Only weak girly pussies ever take action to try change things which they find unpleasant.

  66. says

    Anyone remember that time when some pretentious Hollywood C-lister tried to hit on a woman sitting next to him on his flight, unaware that she was a fairly well-known person with several thousand Twitter followers, and she live-tweeted his awkward advances, making fun of him the whole time? Yeah. Good times. Maybe someone remembers the names of the people involved, I don’t.

  67. Louis says

    Quirkythrope, #72,

    Well I for one don’t think Captainchaos goes far enough.

    After all, if a person is condemned for their desire to stand in the central aisle of an in flight aircraft wearing an adult baby costume complete with crotchless nappy screaming “WAH here are my genitals, put them in your mouth, put them in your mouth!” as people have been entitled to do under Free Speech since the dawn of time, then what has this world come to? I ask you, is it really too much to demand the attention of attractive people around you by thrusting your nappy clad genitalia into their face repeatedly? Of course not. It’s a compliment.

    Sir Richard Branson should be fitting crotch cams to all his aircrafts’ seats in order to facilitate membership of the mile high club on his airline. Anything less would be a victory for the hordes of rampaging politically correct stalinist humourless feminazis stalking out lands demanding that all people be treated as people or something.

    Louis

  68. Louis says

    SallyStrange, #73,

    [Serious face....rare, I know]

    There is an element of the “patronising” argument I take seriously. I think it WOULD be patronising to treat all women as cowering victims. Shame that isn’t what’s happening is it? I mean intelligent people like captainchaos can surely the parse subtle distinctions in modern feminism that indicate that what’s actually happening is, as you said, some women standing up and saying “Hey, I don’t like this. Please don’t do it.”, as indeed they, as you know, proper people and everything, are entitled to do. Weird he didn’t mention noticing that?

    I guess it’s much more impressive and manly to attack straw feminism. That seems like the best way to operate.

    [/sarcasm]

    Louis

  69. kpbvic says

    This is obviously mostly about gender divisions, but we’re missing out an entire other dimension if we don’t think about the extrovert/introvert divide. I’m a 48-year old male who rarely flies, so there’s pretty much zero chance that I’ll be affected by this “service”, but as an introvert, my skin crawls to imagine being in a plane and having some stranger from two rows over buy me a drink. I think most introverts–male or female–would recognise how horribly awkward a situation that would be, and would see this program as a terrible idea. The trouble is that

    (a) extroverts don’t understand introverts, so they can’t see why anyone would have a problem with this; and

    (b) advertising executives in general, and Richard Branson in particular, are weapons-grade extroverts, and never thought to run this idea past any normal people.

  70. says

    @Louis –

    The thing that struck me about Capt. Chaos’ remark was how faithfully his construction of “strength” adheres to the toxic masculinity ideal of Manly Stoic Strength. Like, he hears feminists talking about how women are strong, etc., not weak, as the stereotype goes, and in his mind that gets interpreted to “Women can be just as self-destructive and alienated from their feelings as I was trained to be!”

  71. Louis says

    Sally,

    Oh indeed. I once had a feeling and then had diarrhoea for a month. Luckily I’m now back nice and tight like a clam.

    It’s like the patriarchy hurts everyone. I wish someone had mentioned that instead of trying to conquer all men everywhere and reduce them to second class status within the feminazi vagocracy.

    Louis

  72. says

    Anything less would be a victory for the hordes of rampaging politically correct stalinist humourless feminazis stalking out lands demanding that all people be treated as people or something.

    Damnit, you made my humorless feminazi self chuckle and spit out my drink (A Bloody Marty made with real men’s blood, obviously). To the salt mines of equality with you, male!

  73. Pteryxx says

    SallyStrange @74:

    Anyone remember that time when some pretentious Hollywood C-lister tried to hit on a woman sitting next to him on his flight, unaware that she was a fairly well-known person with several thousand Twitter followers, and she live-tweeted his awkward advances, making fun of him the whole time?

    http://jezebel.com/5917452/creepy-dudes-who-cant-take-no-for-an-answer-are-fair-game-for-mass-ridicule

    also

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/model-melissa-stettens-live-ruination-of-brian-presley-proves-twitter-beats-facebook/

    Guess where that happened? (quoting Stettens’s twitter account)

    Watch out Virgin America, you’ve got a real charmer on board.

  74. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Branson has gone insane.

    Was Richard Branson ever not bizarre? His first success was fuckin’ “Tubular Bells!”

  75. says

    Oh, and here is the NPR business news bit they did about this the other day. I didn’t recall correctly; it was actually Steve Inskeep, one of the hosts, who snarkily remarked on what a good idea it would be to have people hitting on each other in an enclosed space. Steve Inskeep is a humorless feminazi!! Someone should probably alert Congress so they can cut NPR’s funding AGAIN.

    RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

    Our last word in business is good news for the jet setting romantic, possibly bad news for most everyone else on board.

    STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

    Virgin Airlines has announced a new service called seat-to-seat delivery, now available on all U.S. flights, which allows passengers to send unsolicited treats to fellow travelers at the touch of a button.

    (SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

    SIR RICHARD BRANSON: Just order a drink, meal or snack, select his or her seat and don’t forget to seal the deal with a suggestive seat-to-seat chat.

    UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I’m not a betting man but I’d say your chance of de-planing with a plus-one are at least 50 percent.*

    MONTAGNE: Yikes. That’s Virgin’s owner Sir Richard Branson and his guide to getting lucky.

    (LAUGHTER)

    MONTAGNE: Un-official media sites and frequent flyers sound less than thrilled about the new service. Do we note a hint of sarcasm in this comment that was posted online?

    INSKEEP: Hitting on people in an enclosed space where nobody can possibly leave, obviously a really good idea.

    MONTAGNE: And that’s the business news on MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I’m Renee Montagne.

    INSKEEP: I’m Steve Inskeep.

    *Emphasis added. Apparently, someone at Virgin really sincerely thinks that this will result in people hooking up.

  76. says

    Motherfuckin’ sausages on a motherfuckin’ plane.

    So according to this plan, a plane full of date-rapists and douche-bags periscopes for the hottest chick. Either that, or the one who seems doably cute but also has a low enough self esteem to work to their advantage. There she is sitting next to Newt Gingrich leaning toward her as he explains how his marriage is ‘open’. All the other men order meals and drinks to be sent to her seat. But by the time all these orders arrive at the same time, she’s moved to another seat. Or in the alternate option, if there is only one reasonably attractive girl on a plane full of aggressive Geraldo Rivera’s, she might ruin her manicure clawing at the window trying to escape.

  77. Louis says

    I maintain that the way to have this policy immediately removed is to apply one moderately sized rugby team (including subs, coaching staff etc) to one Virgin flight as they go on tour. Supply the team with a set of drinking game instructions making drinking whatever they get sent compulsory, and Branson will back track on this so fast you’d think it was a Tory policy.

    Louis

  78. ChasCPeterson says

    His first success was fuckin’ “Tubular Bells!”

    That was in fact the very first release from Virgin Records; pretty shrewd as it turned out..
    Does anybody know the second? (Granted, it doesn’t really refute the claim of “bizarre“.)

    UNIDENTIFIED MAN:

    ?
    that was Branson (still).

  79. toddsweeney says

    A few years back when I rode the shinkansen from Kyoto to Tokyo and back, they had some fraction of the express trains reserved for female passengers only. It had gotten that bad.

    Elevator-ride-at-50,000 aside, do any of those marketing people actually fly? Sure, maybe the singles scene is bad lighting and loud music and your head is buzzing with drink. But after standing in line for hours, being strip-searched, forcing yourself into a tiny seat and being stuck there for twelve to fourteen hours while the whine of the engines and the pain in your dry sinuses removes any use you had of the few brain cells that are still functioning on near-Everest levels of O2…well, I’m beyond any level of human interaction beyond apologizing as I struggle over the laps of three people in an effort to get to bathrooms.

  80. toddsweeney says

    Pixelfish: they want you to write them about your experiences?

    What are they expecting, “Dear Branson, I never thought I’d be writing you this letter, but…?”

  81. pixelfish says

    Todd: Here’s the contest link: https://www.facebook.com/VirginAmerica/app_143103275748075 I do note that it disappeared off the main front page of the Virgin America site when I went to look for their link. So maybe somebody started noticing that folks were less than enamoured of the idea.

    CaptainChaos: I don’t like to generally call people idiots, and tend to prefer going on the quality of their arguments. So here’s this: Your argument that this is condescending to women and doesn’t expect that we could handle it on our own is fucking idiotic.

    I, a woman, have been harrassed on a plane before. It was a fucking horrible experience. And all the things I would do to normally “handle” a situation are completely untenable precisely because it’s on a plane. Normally most women remove themselves from such situations…which, duh, is not possible on a plane. I’m left with the shit-sandwich proposition of trying to get the airline staff to handle it, thereby running the risk that I will be seen as the troublemaker, or escalating, which carries the same risk.

    But I think you knew that you were making a dumbass and disingenuous argument, because your first argument “It’s all in our heads” contradicts your second “It’s not all in your head but the ladeez can totally handle it all by themselves”. It’s all the same flavour as the willfully oblivious fellows who just couldn’t understand what was so terrible about asking a strange girl for coffee in an elevator at four in the morning.

    Gee…what could be so bad about propositioning somebody when they can’t escape the situation they are in? I FUCKING WONDER!

  82. tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach says

    Was Richard Branson ever not bizarre? His first success was fuckin’ “Tubular Bells!”

    a) Branson did not write, produce or indeed have anything to do with the creation of Tubular Bells, Mike Oldfield did. Branson made a lot of money out of it, having convinced a 16 y.o. Oldfield to sign a somewhat one-sided contract that took quite a few years to escape from.
    b) Do Not Diss the Bells.

  83. nightshadequeen says

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t see a single valid use of this service.

    If I’d like to buy someone a snack, can’t I just…buy one and bring it to them myself? I mean, it’d be awkward to bring a snack to a stranger, but why the hell would you want to do that on a plane anyways?

  84. says

    I know it’s been dealt with, but the best way I’ve seen to deal with this:

    This “man vs woman” thing is all in your heads culture.

    Fixed That For You. Of course, you could put in ‘patriarchy’ et al. but it’s less funny.

  85. says

    Re: 48 sadunlap 26 April 2013 at 9:27 pm (UTC -5)

    Actually, the coupon didn’t authorize $150 of purchases, so why did the hotel or person think it did? And why didn’t they tell the airline locally? Why did the hotel think ditching their partnership over something as piddly as that would be a good idea?

    Yeah, sucked to be you, holding a coupon that you couldn’t redeem. Were you able to get the airline to refund you?

  86. says

    The only thing inflight chat is good for is when you are traveling with someone and don’t have seats next to each other. Then both of you can chat without bothering other passengers by shouting across the plane.

    They way this is being marketed is wrong. Are they trying to get more frat boys to fly their airline?

  87. David Marjanović says

    o_O

    O_o

    o_o

    O_O

    “Virgin”? I really hope it’s just named after the Virgin Islands.

    the whole marketing department should still be fired.

    Yes, and the boss, too.

    I’d also like to point out how incredibly sexist (ironically) well meaning protestations like this are. As if women are all a bunch of fragile and defenseless bunnies who need to be protected from the big bad manclan by a code of honour because otherwise they would be our (I happen to have a Y chromosome, yes) helpless victims.

    I wouldn’t like to be annoyed that way, either. It’d remind me way too much of bullying, and I’ve been bullied more than my fair share.

    And another thing: why the fuck do I get a popup ad when trying to login here?

    Because you haven’t installed Adblock Plus. It’s free, Google finds it.

    5 bucks for Planned Parenthood

    :-) :-) :-)

    on caiptaichaos being a guy.

    He already admitted to having a Y chromosome in his first comment. Somehow I don’t think an androgen-insensitive XY woman is likely to write that kind of thing… let alone a transwoman.

    Steve Inskeep is a humorless feminazi!! Someone should probably alert Congress so they can cut NPR’s funding AGAIN.

    *chortle*

    she might ruin her manicure clawing at the window trying to escape.

    *snort* X-)

  88. Anri says

    And another thing: why the fuck do I get a popup ad when trying to login here?

    Because that is how the FTB staff believe their website should present itself to the world in general.

    “I know this great site – it’s full of terrific ideas and smart people… oh, you’ll want to make sure you have your pop-up blocker installed.”

    I, for one, assume the site designers know way more about presenting (probably) the most popular and well-known collection of freethought blogs to anyone who might be interested. Why pervert their fair vision by refusing to experience their preferred method of reaching out?

  89. Marcus Hill (dripping with unearned privilege) says

    I think you’re all failing to see how visionary this scheme is. Note that it’s only on Virgin America. They have seen the way things are going in the US – the NRA will soon convince the nation that the only way to protect yourself from anything you don’t like is to carry a gun. Virgin have seen that, soon, sleazy men trying to harass women into having sex with them will be looking down the barrel of a gun. Where’s the only place in the US that you can buy someone a drink (for the implied promise of sex) when you know they won’t be armed? A plane, of course!

  90. woodsong says

    I’m late to the thread again, I just wanted to highlight this bit from the jezebel.com article Pteryxx linked at #82:

    Can we please stop assuming that men have a right to outsource both their self-control and their discretion to every random woman who has the outrageous audacity to be attractive in public?

    QFMFT!

    Thanks for the links!

  91. Onamission5 says

    So I got a reply to my email…

    “Hello (my name),

    Thank you for your email.

    We are sorry to hear of your disappointment with our new seat-to-seat delivery service. The service provides an option to decline the drink and block any messages from an admirer. Please rest assure that your feedback is very much appreciated and has been shared with our Marketing Team.

    We value your support and look forward to seeing you onboard in the near future.

    Regards,

    Chris
    Guest Relations”

    So what I got from this is that it’s opt-out on a case-by-case basis rather than opt-in. Opt-in would have been way better. Harumph.