Virgin America, the airline that carries Boing Boing Video as an in-flight TV channel, launched service from Los Angeles to Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas this week. I joined other press for the inaugural flight, to live-tweet snapshots of the festivities. This included a bunch of cowboys and longhorn steer right on the tarmac at landing, and later, a "secret" performance by Willie Nelson with impromptu on-stage hoedown involving Sir Richard Branson and gorgeous flight attendants.

As a business story, their upstart break into the Dallas market is interesting: 80% of flights into and out of this hub have been American Airlines, until now. But as a visual story, I found it even more interesting.

Highlights of the evening: Sir Richard wearing a "Free Willie" t-shirt to introduce Sir Nelson, and asking, "Wouldn't it be nice if we lived in a world where they decriminalized [marijuana]?" And, sitting so close to the stage, I could read the tiny words carved into the face of Willie's beat-up guitar. He tossed one of his bandannas to me during the show, and I got a kiss and a handshake.

As has been widely reported, Nelson was just busted for weed by federal Border Patrol agents at a checkpoint in Sierra Blanca, Texas. When Branson introduced the 77-year-old Texas native (who appeared to be in better shape than I!), he said, "Ladies and gentlemen, I recently met someone who is so fit, he lost six ounces just last night. Please welcome Willie Nelson." What an amazing performer and a totally cool human being. — Xeni

Show gallery

Willie Nelson tossed me his bandana from stage last night.
Feshica (Virgin America flight attendant)
The lovely @casiestewart on the Tarmac.
Willie Nelson.
Willie Nelson Richard Branson Hoedown
Opera House: self portrait
DJ Lunatik (@djlunatik1)
Lassoing hotties
Cowboys at rest
Cowboy lassoing flight attendants
Longhorn shadow
Longhorn lomo
On the ones and twos, flight attendant @djlunatik1
So, cowboy luckily grabbed me as I snapped this steer. Nearly pierced! LONGHORNS GOTTA LONG.
Saddles as barstools
Sir Richard Branson.
Two kinds of tails: planes, longhorns.
Cowboys on the Tarmac (@virginamerica DFW)
Longhorn cutie (@virginamerica DFW)
Longhorn cattle welcoming committee on the Tarmac (@virginamerica DFW)
Red carpet.
DFW: drenched! @virginamerica
Water cannon on @virginamerica DFW arrival.
First Dallas touchdown
They're serving "giddyup" cocktails on the @virginamerica DFW launch. VEEV, club soda, jet fuel. 8am
At @virginamerica gate, ready to lift off to DFW. EVERYONE SOUNDS LIKE COWBOYS!
Up at dawn for inaugural @virginamerica LAX/DFW flight.
JPG:Xeni HTM:Rob @BB

16 Responses to “Willie Nelson, Richard Branson, cowboys, cattle, hotties: Virgin America's Dallas launch”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Since this last bust there has been state and national support for Willie Nelsons Teapot party. The slogan is “We lean a little to the left”.
    I encourage everyone to join their states teapot party.

  2. mr_mediocre says:

    Is the ’70’s era Instamatic 110 effect an in-camera filter or something in Photoshop or the GIMP?

  3. rexion says:

    These photos would be easier to see and more interesting if filters weren’t so indiscriminately applied.

  4. turn_self_off says:

    ah, USA the way they like to see themselves…

  5. Mitch says:

    I like the filters.

    You could make a nifty shofar out of one of those horns.

  6. Manooshi says:

    Considering I’ve grown up with a certified Cali cowboy uncle, IMHO, it’s kind of silly to have cattle on the tarmac as props…

    Also, re: the ‘instamatic’ filter: apparently you’re not a hipster if you don’t use it nowadays for ALL of your pics.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hey thanks for the pics but the correct twitter name is (@djlunatik1)

    Thanks again!

  8. halfacre says:

    AUGGH help, sensory overload!

  9. Ernunnos says:

    A multi-billion $ company hired a competent event manager to stage a product announcement event. Members of the press attended. I’m pretty sure I’m going to need a hot towel and a stiff drink to cope with this revelation.

  10. Gemma says:

    Sir Richard wearing a “Free Willie” t-shirt to introduce Sir Nelson

    It’s Sir FirstName, not Sir LastName. Sir Willie sounds funnier too. End nitpick.

  11. Xeni Jardin says:

    To those complaining about the filters: this was just a fun experiment for us in using for live, image-focused coverage of a time-sensitive event. I had reservations myself about instagram, hipstamatic, and the like — but after toying around with these and other mobile photo apps for a few weeks, i came to the conclusion that they’re tools to have fun with. Yes, they’re part of a noticeable visual trend. Relax and enjoy them for what they are.

    I think the end result was fun. My OCD brain loves the nice, neat grid of square images. You can do them with filters or without. I like a mix. Filters can make mediocre shots look much better, or add a different sense of place and mood to a solid shot. But no, not every shot needs to be lomographied.

    @Ernunnos, you’re just sad because you know they pampered all the reporters with hot towels and stiff drinks on the plane and you din git nun.

    @djlunatik1, sorry, man, fixing — I asked one of your colleagues, and they gave me the wrong spelling! Apologies.

  12. Evil Paul says:

    I looove the grid, really does work great with the square pics. I also love the delicious cognitive dissonance of the my-parents-photo-album look combined with the web 2.0 enabled instant reportage.

  13. Anonymous says:

    you and willie and richard riding robot unicorns into the double rainbow futurity

  14. Super Nate says:

    I know about letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. But I’m tired of this “decriminalize” bullshit. It’d still be illegal and assume that the state has the right to say so. Full legalization is the moral imperative.

  15. NZmoores says:

    Branson and Virgin ain’t Texan, even if they borrowed Willie. Go home.

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