Virgin America Celebrates Nine Years Of Making Flying Fun

Published on : Monday, August 8, 2016

Virgin AmericaVirgin America, the Bay Area-based airline known for reinventing domestic travel with its upscale service and innovative in-flight amenities, is celebrating its ninth birthday and ninth straight year as theTop Domestic Airline in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards. To kick off the celebration, San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee has named August 8, 2016, as “Virgin America Day” in the City of San Francisco.  Virgin America is thanking its loyal guests by offering Elevate® frequent flyer members 999 bonus points when they register at www.virginamerica.com/party-favor-points ,* and by launching one of the airline’s biggest network-wide fare sales of the year with fares from $39.** Tickets are available now at www.virginamerica.com and 1.877.FLY.VIRGIN (1.877.359.8474)****and must be purchased by 11:59pm on Wednesday, August 10.

“As the only airline headquartered in San Francisco – the innovation capital of the world, Virgin America’s mission from day one has been to raise the bar at 35,000 feet,” said Virgin America President and CEO David Cush. “Inspired by the Bay Area community and our flyers, our Teammates have helped reinvent air travel – not only by delivering brilliant guest service, but by leveraging the best in design, technology and entertainment to make flying fun again.  Along the way, they’ve shaken up the entire airline industry for the better. We are a product of the Bay Area – and as we celebrate our ninth anniversary, we are incredibly thankful to the local flyers, partners and community leaders who believed that an airline could change how people fly.”

“Virgin America continues to capture the spirit of innovation that makes San Francisco a special place, providing a unique experience for our SFO passengers, creating jobs for Bay Area residents and supporting our growing economy,” said San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “It is my great pleasure to once again declare August 8th as ‘Virgin America Day’ in San Franciscoand recognize their support of critical local organizations like the San Francisco Animal Care and Control.”

As a thank you to the City of San Francisco and as part of its ongoing partnership with the San Francisco Giants, Virgin America is celebrating its anniversary at AT&T Park on August 20 when the hometown team takes on the Mets – with the first 40,000 attendees scoring a two-for-one Virgin America flight voucher.*** Virgin America has served as the “Official Airline of the San Francisco Giants” since 2008.  Today the airline unveils its 2016 SF Giants aircraft design, which will feature star pitcher, Sergio Romo in action on the fuselage of its Airbus A320 Family “Fly Bye Baby” aircraft, named in honor of the SF Giants. The aircraft design shows Romo in action winding up for a pitch – and will kick off a promotion at the ballpark on August 20 where Virgin America and the SF Giants will ask fans to tweet their best #RestingPitchFace to generate a personal baseball card that can be shared with followers.  The Virgin America-SF Giants partnership also includes unique stadium branding, such as the “Virgin America Loft” at McCovey Cove, in-stadium signage and LEDs, and the mood-lit “Virgin America Club Level” and sectional signage that nods to the airline’s signature cabin lighting.

“We’re excited to celebrate our hometown airline’s ninth birthday with our fans and continue to be so proud to have Virgin America as the Official Airline of the San Francisco Giants,” said Giants President and CEO, Larry Baer. “Over the years, our partnership has featured many milestones, including three World Championship trophy flights and of course, the first ceremonial first pitch to be made at 35,000 feet and broadcast to the stadium via Virgin America’s fleetwide WiFi in 2012. We look forward to once again hosting Virgin America Day at AT&T Park with our fans.”

Commitment to the community is a part of the Virgin brand’s DNA, and the airline has partnered with the San Francisco Animal Care and Control (SF ACC) since 2010 to fly Chihuahuas (which are overpopulated on the West Coast) from the Bay Area to the East Coast where they can be adopted into loving homes.  On August 20th, Virgin America will pledge $10,000 to support the vital work the SF ACC does to help Bay Area animals – and will be tapping some special four-legged all stars to participate in the ceremonial first pitch, with several Chihuahuas from the SF ACC taking to the field to assist.

In true Bay Area fashion, Virgin America has marked a number of notable and sometimes quirky “firsts” since its 2007 launch:

  • In July 2016, Virgin America became the first airline to be named the “Top Domestic Airline” in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards readers’ survey for the ninth year in a row  – representing a win of this award every year the airline has been in service;
  • In April 2016, Virgin America became the Official Airline of Rock the Vote for this election season and will run Public Service Announcements in-flight encouraging flyers to vote. In 2012, Virgin America launched its first flights to Washington National (DCA) by becoming the first airline to allow flyers to register to vote in-flight via its Red in-flight entertainment platform;
  • Virgin America is the first and still only U.S. airline to offer WiFi fleetwide. The airline first marked that milestone as of May 2009 with the first-ever SKYPE chat from the ground to the air between Oprah Winfrey and her studio audience and a Virgin America plane at 35,000 feet;
  • In 2015, Virgin America began upgrading its fleet with significantly faster WiFi connectivity on its new aircraft deliveries.  In fall 2015, Virgin America became the first airline to join forces with Netflix and Spotify to allow travelers to stream their respective entire catalogs for free at 35,000 feet. The partnership kicked off with an unveiling of a Netflix Original House of Cards themed aircraft – and a surprise drop-in of talent from the show on one of the airline’s SFO-DCA flights;
  • Virgin America is the first and still only airline in the U.S. with a touch-screen seatback menu that allows guests to order what they want, when they want it during a flight. The airline’s fresh, locally-focused menu was awarded the “Best Domestic Airline for Food” title by Travel + Leisure in 2009, 2014 and 2015;
  • With the launch of its Red® in-flight entertainment platform in 2007, Virgin America was the first U.S. airline to offer a touch-screen in-flight entertainment at every seat – with an on-demand menu, a give back section, seat-to-seat chat and hundreds of unedited entertainment options including on-demand movies, live television, music playlists, Google Maps, videogames and curated content from BoingBoing TV to YouTube creators to indie films. In 2015, the airline began rolling out an upgrade to Red with higher resolution capacitive touch screens and Android-based software that allows for more content and more functionality – including improved game options and retro classics like Pac Man and Asteroids. The airline also offers the very first surround sound entertainment listening experience for a commercial airline;
  • With a new fleet that is up to 15 percent more fuel efficient than the domestic fleet average, Virgin America was also the first U.S. airline to offer carbon offsets in-flight and join the Climate Registry, a nonprofit organization that sets consistent standards to calculate, verify and report greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions;
  • Virgin America was the first U.S. airline to launch a loyalty program where members could earn points from the day the airline launched. As of 2016, Virgin America grew its Elevate program to four million members strong.
  • In November 2015, Virgin America launched its new flights to Hawaii and became Airbnb’s first airline partner with a unique Elevate partnership and #Hawaiiscape promotion;
  • In November 2015, the airline became the first major U.S. commercial airline to touch down on Google Map’s Street Viewand later launched an interactive brand campaign that allows travelers to test drive their flight experience from any airport before they take off;
  • In October 2015, Virgin America became the first domestic airline to be named “Best U.S. Airline” in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards – for an unprecedented eighth year in a row.
  • In February 2015, the airline announced it would be the first U.S. Airline to power online payments with Visa Checkout, making online shopping and other web experiences even easier for its flyers;
  • In November 2014, Virgin America has one of the most successful IPOs of the year, and partners with Loyal3 to give back to its most loyal guests by providing an opportunity for Elevate® Gold and Silver members to purchase shares of the airline;
  • In October 2014, Virgin America won its “Free Love Field” campaign  and as a result launched its low-fare, upscale service at Dallas Love Field (DAL). The airline celebrated the launch with the first-ever on-demand Uber flight.  Travelers could order the flight on the Uber app and were feted onboard by Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson and in-flight performance by Grammy-award winner Kacey Musgraves;
  • Virgin America was the first airline to launch an ad campaign poking its often boring, beige and dull competition with a five hour and forty-five minute film set onboard a BLAH Airlines flight from SFO-EWR – the hilarious antithesis of the connected, entertaining and stylish experience guests enjoy when flying Virgin America. The film was called “brilliant” and “Warholian” by AdWeek and “genius” by Travel + Leisure, garnered nearly one million views on YouTube, received a 2015 Cannes Lions award and is a winner in the 2016 Shorty Awards which honors the best content creators and producers on social media;
  • In October 2013, Virgin America, the airline that first put an irreverent twist on the in-flight safety video in the U.S., marked a major milestone later that month by taking pre-flight safety education to new heights with the first-ever domestic safety video set entirely to music and performed in dance. The video to date has racked up +11 million views;
  • First airline to partner with Banana Republic on its sleek new uniform design in 2012 – with aviation inspired details and a palette inspired by the airline’s signature moodlit cabin design;
  • First and still only U.S. airline with standard power outlets at every seat and seat-to-seat text chatting; In 2013, the airline also helped travelers “get lucky” by becoming the first airline to allow travelers to send a drink or meal to another seat via the Red interface and the text feature;
  • In April 2011, the airline opened its sleek and sustainable SFO T2 home, with a tandem inaugural flight alongside Virgin Galactic’s spaceship;
  • In January 2011, the airline launched new service to its second Mexican destination of Cancun International Airport (CUN) – and celebrated with the first-ever VH1 “Top 20 Countdown” episode filmed onboard a commercial flight;
  • First airline to host a VIP red carpet send-off as part of its Operation Chihuahua airlift in partnership with the San Francisco Animal Care and Control  to help bring overpopulated pups to the East Coast where they are adopted into loving homes. Operation Chihuahua has become an annual event with have  more than 80 Chihuahuas flown since 2010;
  • First airline to partner with Boo – the San Francisco-born “World’s Cutest Dog” as Virgin America’s pet liaison for dogs on the go;
  • First airline to launch a responsive design web site with the launch of the Webby award winning virginamerica.com in 2014;
  • First airline to broadcast to TV from 35,000 feet via in-flight WiFI – in a live interview conducted with Sir Richard Bransonon the CBS Early Show – in February 2009.
  • First airline to host a live streamed YouTube broadcast from 35,000 feet in Nov. 2008, with YouTube content creators;
  • First in-flight premiere of a television series with episode one of “Entourage” season five launching the airline’s LAS-JFK route in November 2008;
  • First in-flight marriage ceremony to celebrate SFO-LAS launch, Sir Richard Branson officiates as ordained minister at 35,000 feet in October 2007;
  • First U.S. airline to offer a “give back” charitable giving program on its in-flight entertainment platform. Virgin America is a proud sponsor of local causes like Make-A-Wish Bay Area, Knowledge is Power Program, San Francisco Animal Care and Control, Naturebridge, the American Heart Association, Rock the Vote and more.

A full list of Virgin America’s awards can be found here.

As the only airline headquartered in California, Virgin America has grown a loyal following of flyers for its brilliant guest service, unique design and tech-forward amenities.  Virgin America’s new fleet of Airbus A320 family aircraft offers custom-designed mood-lit cabins and amenities like fleetwide WiFi, power outlets and touch-screen personal entertainment. The airline’s Red™ in-flight entertainment platform offers guests more than 25 films on demand, live TV, interactive maps, video games, seat-to-seat chat, music videos, a 3,000 song library and an on-demand menu – so flyers can order a cocktail or snack from their seatback any time during a flight – and even send a drink to another seat.  Virgin America’s on-demand menu remains unique in the U.S. airline industry – allowing travelers to order a meal or cocktail from their seatback screen at any time during a flight.  This, coupled with the airline’s locally-focused menu, has helped Virgin America capture numerous food awards – including most recently the “Best Domestic Airline for Food” in Travel + Leisure’s 2016 World’s Best Awards.

Despite being the first (and still only) U.S. airline to offer WiFi fleetwide as of 2009, Virgin America has continued to invest in creating a leading onboard experience.  The airline upgraded to a faster, ground-based WiFi via Gogo’s ATG4 product as of 2014, and in 2015, launched a new connectivity partnership with ViaSat to bring significantly faster satellite WiFi to its new delivery aircraft.  The satellite WiFi service is flying on 10 of the airline’s newest delivery aircraft as of this month. In 2015, Virgin America launched the next generation of its Red® entertainment platform, which offers higher resolution, capacitive touch screens and an Android-based software platform that allows for more content and interactivity.

In addition to a Main Cabin that offers custom-designed leather seating with a deeper, more comfortable pitch, Virgin America’s First Class cabin offers plush white leather seating with 55 inches of pitch, 165 degrees of recline and lumbar massagers. The carrier’s Main Cabin Select service offers 38 inches of pitch, free food and cocktails, an all-access pass to media content, dedicated overhead bins and priority check-in/boarding.

Since its 2007 launch, Virgin America has expanded its network to include Austin, Boston, Cancun, Chicago, Dallas Love Field,Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Los Cabos, Newark, New York (JFK and LGA), Orlando, Palm Springs, Portland,Puerto Vallarta, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington D.C. (IAD and DCA), Honolulu and Kahului, Maui.

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