Which airline makes me feel the most hip?

Kara Powell | Apr 25, 2012

This last month, Ive been doing more travel than usual. While its been exciting to have the chance to meet with leaders all over the country and share about Sticky Faith, I certainly havent enjoyed the time away from my family.

[caption id=“attachment_13474” align=“alignleft” width=“300” caption=“My view from my Virgin America seat last week. Doesn't it feel hip?”][/caption]

But I have learned a lot about airlines.

Ive flown on everything from Southwest to Virgin America. The basic configuration of a plane is generally the same for the cross-America flights Ive been doing. (Most have six seats across with an aisle down the middle. I know some of you know what type of plane that is. Ive never made the effort to memorize plane types.)

And yet each airplane has a different vibe.

Virgin America makes me feel hip.

Southwest makes me feel fun and frugal.

United and American make me feel professional.

Delta makes me feel a bit spoiled (they have the best free snacks and great media/internet options).

What causes these respective vibes?

  1. The ambiance. Virgin America feels like a nightclub. When you check in, there are hip flower arrangements, and throughout the entire experience (from check in to the airplane itself), the lighting is unusual and creative. For instance, the airplane has blue lights overhead instead of the standard white.
  2. 2. The services provided. Whatever Delta spends on complimentary peanuts and pretzels, it more than makes up for that expense by making me think the next time Im booking a flight, Ill have a better experience on Delta.
  3. 3. The staff. Ive saved what I think is the most determinative for last. Southwest flight attendants are notorious for their tongue-and-cheek approach to on-flight announcements. Virgin America employees made me feel like I was flying first class (believe me, I wasnt).

Our FYI offices have a ways to go before they communicate the vibe we want them to (largely because theyre a bit small for the functions we perform). Our house is closer, but I want our house to be even more hospitable and welcoming from the lights we have on (or off) to the way I greet guests and offer them something to drink (which often at our house means either water or a juice box).

How about your youth room? Your office space? Your house? What values do you want to communicate to folks who walk in the door? How could you better communicate those values?

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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