In a world where airline amenities seem to be disappearing faster than you can say “takeoff,” British-based Virgin Airlines has decided to go against the grain—for it’s ‘One Percenter’ passengers, that is.
The airline behind billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Mobile empire is now providing its upper class flyers the chance to purchase art 35,000 feet above sea level with an in-flight art gallery. Its recently launched “Gallery in the Air” is part of a $158 million initiative to revamp its first class cabin experience.
Passengers flying out of London Heathrow, JFK and Newark airports will have the opportunity to preview the available canvasses displayed in the Virgin Atlantic private clubhouse lounges. Once aboard the plane, passengers are able to take a virtual tour of pieces for sale, watch behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the art, and finally, if they find something to their liking, they can make a pricey purchase without leaving the comfort of their swanky luxury cabin—a nice perk for passengers who already shell out up to $11,000 to be there.
The artist chosen to participate in Virgin’s inaugural sky-high art dealing is London-based painter Ben Eine, a graffiti artist best for his neon street art creations. He rose to fame when one of his paintings was presented by British Prime Minister David Cameron to President Obama during an official state visit.
And although Eine’s original works sell for a pretty penny—up to $24,000—ironically, the street artist turned high flyer admits that he usually flies coach, where he himself wouldn’t have access to peruse the gallery..
“I fly economy most of the time, and I’d like to be able to see my own paintings,” he told The Guardian.
And for those not in the market for pricey art, consider “Gallery in the Air” as another way to pass the in-flight transatlantic flight. It’s a sliver of culture that comes complimentary with a first class boarding pass—powering down before takeoff not necessary.