Why Virgin Atlantic Hired a 'Flight Whisperer'

Recent media reports on Virgin Atlantic’s new Upper Class Dream Suite – which will make its debut in the spring – reveal little in the way of actual news, beyond tantalizing hints about a futuristic bar and seats that have been enhanced in some way or another (see our poll, below).

‘Flight Whisperer’ to Train Flight Attendants

However, despite keeping a lid on most details, a Virgin spokesperson admitted that the Dream Suite will involve more training for crew members, which is why they have appointed one Richard Fitzgerald to the post of Whispering Coach.

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Real Reasons for ‘Flight Whisperer’

To hear Virgin Atlantic’s explanation (on the airline’s blog), the point of a whisper coach is keep the atmosphere as posh as possible. Flight attendants will learn to speak between 20 and 30 decibels which helps convey the “tone, volume and sentiment cabin crew should use whilst talking to Upper Class passengers [to] ensure that no passenger is unduly disturbed whilst sleeping.”

Whilst air travel analyst Rick Seaney normally focuses on fluctuations in airfare, he agreed to take a closer look at this flight whispering development and discovered it, too, has to do with airline economics.

“Virgin Atlantic lost the battle to prevent the virtual merger between American Airlines and Virgin rival British Airways which now dominates trans-oceanic U.S. – London Heathrow flights,” said Seaney, “a dominance sealed by business travelers who love schedule convenience.”

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But Virgin Atlantic is still in the game, said the analyst, especially now that corporations that curtailed first and business class transoceanic travel during the recession are slowly re-loosening their travel purse strings. So Virgin Atlantic has another shot at these returning customers, but as Seaney notes, price is only part of the equation. “One way to woo business travelers is with upgrades and perks – the whole experience, if you will,” said Seaney, “which just might tip the scale from ‘convenience’ to Virgin Atlantic.”

Q&A with Virgin Billionaire Richard Branson

Don’t Forget the James Bond Movies

“Besides,” added the analyst, “I’m sure Richard Branson would love to see a few more James Bond movie scenes shot in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class.”

No doubt. Watch for a cameo by Virgin Atlantic in the next Bond vehicle, Skyfall – coming to theaters in November.

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Published: February 29, 2012