The CES bird – nerdbird, that is – is the word

Watch out Las Vegas, the nerdbird is coming.

Just in time for the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show, a Virgin America plane decked out with glasses and a pocket protector will touch down at McCarran International Airport, filled with techies attending the 45-year-old convention.

From Jan. 8 to 11, 156,000 people with a stake in the electronics industry are expected to attend CES. The show is projected to feature more than 3,100 consumer electronics companies displaying 20,000 products.

"In general we’re expecting the show to track the same as it did last year," said Tara Dunion, spokeswoman for the Consumer Electronics Association, which produces the convention.

CES and its minions will spread out throughout Las Vegas, taking over space at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Mandalay Bay and The Venetian.

In celebration of the 2013 show, the Silicon Valley-headquartered Virgin America sold a charter flight on its nerdbird for $49,000 to the bidder who qualified and was quickest on the keyboard. The buyer’s identity hadn’t been released as of press time.

More than 180 bids came in for the flight via Gilt, which handled the sale for Virgin. Within minutes, a flood of companies and individuals made their play for the nerdbird online, but alas only one winner stole its heart. Virgin America has fielded inquiries for CES charters since its launch in 2007, and the airline finally decided to acquiesce.

So, nerds, your dream has come true.

The complete package purchased includes airfare for up to 135 people from San Francisco to Las Vegas, complete with full bar, catering, flight crew and free in-flight Wi-Fi access. The buyer also can put his name or his company’s name on the exterior of the Virgin America Airbus A320 commercial jet.

"We always have had a really, really full flight schedule during CES," said Abby Lunardini, vice president of corporate communications for Virgin America. "And we added additional flights this year and in past years to accommodate additional demand."

Two Wi-Fi enabled flights each way have been added from San Francisco to Vegas on Virgin each day during CES.

"Overall the demand seems to be pretty high this year already, which is good," Lunardini said. "It’s such a major event, and being based here in Silicon Valley it’s on everyone’s minds."

And in Arlington, Va., the home of the Consumer Electronics Association, the show is just about to hit the road. The staff is boning up on consumer electronics trends, learning about new smartphone applications and studying the general show floor layout.

"December is pedal to the metal, full speed ahead," Dunion said.

On Dec. 12 or 13, a truck will leave home base and head for Las Vegas, carrying office supplies, press room goodies and other items that show producers might need while working remotely. Once in Las Vegas, Global Experience Specialists are responsible for the move-in, during which more than 1,700 people will be employed.

The CES build-out begins before Christmas. In early January, 95 percent of the Consumer Electronics Association staff will head West, and then it’s showtime.

Expect the 2013 CES to have the largest automotive presence in the show’s history.

"You’re seeing a lot of innovation in cars related to technology," Dunion said.

Also, there’s an increased focus on apps, with a hack-a-thon scheduled, a wall of curated apps displayed and an "appy hour" happening that aims to focus on the most innovative apps from CES exhibitors. Other categories that have been "exploding" this year are digital health and fitness and Ultra HD television technology, which gives viewers four times the definition than today’s HD television.

While open to industry only, registration is still open until the end of December. Exhibit space is still available, but Dunion said it’s "getting tight." For more information on either, visit cesweb.org.

Contact reporter Laura Carroll at lcarroll@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4588.

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