Flying the very friendly open-source skies on America's newest airline

Virgin AtlanticVirgin Atlantic, America's newest air carrier and possibly the geekiest, launches Wednesday with flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to San Francisco (SFO) and SFO to New York (JFK) on new and uniquely equipped Airbus aircraft. JFK-LAX flights begin later this month, SFO-Washington-Dulles (IAD) next month, and SFO-Las Vegas (LAS) and LAX-IAD follow in October.

Its IT department shops for IT talent on Craigslist and builds an eclectic mix of infrastructure, with Microsoft's Great Plains replacing what would typically be run by Oracle in an enterprise of its size, and it uses open-source software for spam filtering and network load balancing. Virgin Atlantic also distributes from-home customer service reps and outsources the development of its Aires reservation system to a software firm on the Subcontinent.

Passengers on this discounted airline enjoy time-of-day mood lighting, recline in Recarro seats, have Linux-based in-flight entertainment with video-on-demand, a unique in-flight chat program (text to a buddy or to all onboard?), order food and beverage from seatback consoles that also run open-source games (yes, even Doom), USB and Ethernet ports at every seat, and two AC power sockets per row.

Does the added e-glitz enhance your desire for low-price air fare?