The American Virtual Experience
Long time readers of my blog will certainly know that I’ve discussed the subject of virtual airlines (VA’s) many times. I’ve shared with my readers the pros and cons of VA membership and I’ve also shared my experiences with some of the best and worst the internet has to offer. This writing is going to focus on a new (to me) virtual airline and why you should join today.
During the internet age of my flight simulation experience, I’ve always enjoyed being a member of a virtual airline community. For me personally, I’ve found VA membership brings a sense of purpose to my flight simulation hobby. Especially when flying jetliners around the world. I’ve held memberships in many different VA’s over the past two decades and served in many capacities including pilot, hub manager, executive management and even owned my own fictional cargo based VA for about 5 years where I served as CEO. For the most part, my experiences have always been extremely positive. I’m a believer in the saying “You Get What You Give”. More about this in a minute.
Prior to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the spare time I had was rather limited and it had been several years since I had been a member in a virtual airline. However, being stuck at home and especially after being laid off in July, I found I had more time and I began seeking out a new VA to call home. For most, the choice of VA will most likely be an airline in their home country and one they prefer over another. Growing up in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and beginning my IT career there as well, I always preferred to fly American whenever possible. So I’ve always gravitated towards an American Airlines based VA whenever possible. But unfortunately, not all VA’s (even those simulating AAL) are created equal.
A few weeks ago I found myself somewhat bored with the American VA I belonged to. While I was keeping myself busy flying (almost daily) and I was serving in a management capacity, I just wasn’t happy with the direction things were going. While I’m not going to mention the name of this VA, I’ll just say that I’ve had a long history with them and in all honesty not much has changed or progressed with their systems in more than 10 years. Don’t get me wrong, they are a fine VA with wonderful and dedicated individuals. But I just wasn’t happy and felt I needed to make a change.
In the VATSIM Facebook group I saw a posting from another American Airlines VA which caught my attention. I clicked the link and had a look over their website. After reading as much as I could from their About, FAQ and News pages and reading even more comments others have posted on Facebook, I decided American Virtual was going to become my new home. I completed the application process and was absolutely stunned when I received my acceptance and welcome email within 10 minutes of applying. In the past I’ve waited 24 – 48 hours or sometimes longer to be accepted into a VA. Being hired/accepted in the short period of time I experienced after signing up with American Virtual showed me these guys are a serious VA. Of course it needs to be said, VA’s are operated by real-life humans and the expectation of being hired within 10 minutes will not always be possible. However, any properly managed virtual airline should be able to review, process and hire certainly within 24-48 hours. But I digress….
I downloaded the ACARs program and setup my first flight from DFW to DEN in the PMDG Boeing 737-800. During the flight I joined the American Virtual Discord and found it to be an active and lively group. By the time I completed the return flight to DFW I had decided I made the right decision. The very next day I contacted the CEO and inquired about an open hub manager position at DFW. While I was new to the VA, I wanted to offer my experience and willingness to serve in a management capacity and was promoted to the role of hub manager over the DFW hub.
While I realize this has quickly become a lengthy post, I will wrap things up very shortly. I promise! While most VA’s operate in a similar fashion by allowing pilots to accrue hours, offer group flights and an online community via forum, Discord etc. American Virtual takes all this many, many steps forward.
In a recent video message from the American Virtual CEO, Sean Jackson, he describes the VA as being “more than just a virtual airline, but literally a technology company that provides virtual airline services.” During his six minute address, he highlights many of the features which makes American Virtual stand out as a leader in the flight simulation community. A few features he discusses are as follows:
At American Virtual we strive to mirror the real world American Airlines flight operations in as realistic manner as possible. American Virtual uses flight data from Flightaware to inject real world flight data in the scheduling system for both American Airlines and also its direct subsidiaries.
Enhanced Flight Air Map
American Virtual uses a feature rich graphical tracking mod which provides a street level view of your aircraft in flight. This is very similar functionality to what you might see with real world traffic on FlightRadar24.
Earn miles towards purchase of real items or unlock special privileges on the site.
Earn discounts towards amusement parks, movies, sporting events, restaurants and more.
A quarterly full-color virtual magazine similar to American Way (AA’s inflight magazine).
An active community on Discord where virtual friendships are forming on a daily basis.
Plus Much, Much More…
American Virtual is hiring and if all this sounds interesting to you, you should join today! But before I let you go, near the top of this lengthy article, I mentioned a saying or motto which has always been important to me. “You Get What You Give”. I’ve applied this in all aspects of my life, everything from my faith, my family, my education, my career and to my hobbies. In the very short time I’ve been with American Virtual, I can tell you this is also an important motto from the CEO all the way throughout the management team. There’s more to running a successful VA than just opening the doors. The effort Sean and his management team, as well as each individual member is putting into this fine VA will only strengthen its core. I’ve found my new home and I certainly hope you’ll join me.
I hope to see you in the friendly skies at American Virtual.
Until next time….