Virgin America celebrates its fifth anniversary

Written by editor


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Virgin America, the airline that has been reinventing flying since its August 2007 launch, today marks its fifth anniversary with festivities that celebrate the airline’s continued job growth, network expansion and award-winning service. In honor of the young carrier’s milestone, San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee proclaims today (August 8, 2012), “Virgin America Day” in the City of San Francisco. As a thank you to its loyal flyers, Virgin America today launches a “Book Like it’s Your Birthday” network-wide fare sale for travel between August 21, 2012-November 14, 2012. Tickets must be purchased by 11:59pm CDT on August 9, 2012. Tickets are on sale today via As of today the airline’s Elevate® frequent flyers will also be able to take advantage of a new suite of status benefits that promise to make travel even more rewarding – including bonus points earning via social check-in and the chance to earn*** a Virgin Galactic space flight.

“Virgin America launched five years ago with a lofty mission – to make flying good again,” said Virgin America President and CEO David Cush. “Since that time, our teammates have worked tirelessly to build an airline that people love, as evidenced by a slew of prestigious travel awards and an Elevate loyalty program that now has over 2.4 million members. Our successes in just five short years are a credit to the work of all 2,600 members of our growing team, to our loyal guests who have embraced a better way of flying and to the support we’ve received from the San Francisco Bay Area community.”

“In addition to having built deep roots in this community through its charitable community partnerships, Virgin America has created thousands of jobs and is an anchor tenant at SFO’s world-class and sustainable Terminal 2,” said San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “Our City is proud that Virgin America calls San Francisco home, and I am pleased to proclaim today ‘Virgin America Day’ in San Francisco.”

This weekend, the airline continues the birthday celebration with sports fans at a special “Virgin America Day at AT&T Park,” as the San Francisco Giants host the Colorado Rockies on August 11th. The game will open with the first ceremonial pitch live broadcast from a flight at 35,000 feet. A lucky fan won the chance to join Giants mascot “Lou Seal” and throw the first pitch down the aisle of Virgin America commercial flight 753 as it enters Bay Area air space en route from Seattle. The first pitch will be transmitted live air-to-ground via Gogo® in-flight WiFi to AT&T Park, where more than 40,000 fans will be watching. As a birthday present to its hometown, Virgin America will offer all attendees at AT&T Park this Saturday a two-for-one flight voucher****on the airline that just last month captured Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Domestic Airline title for the fifth year in a row.

“I am thrilled that Virgin America decided five years ago to make San Francisco its national corporate headquarters,” said Congresswoman Jackie Speier. “It’s been a great fit — San Francisco’s creative spirit meets its match. A marriage we hope lasts a lifetime.”

Virgin America has much to celebrate; in its first five years of operations, it has expanded to 18 new destinations, created more than 2,600 new jobs, welcomed 19.3 million flyers and swept the major travel industry best-in-class awards, including “Best Domestic Airline” in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and “Best Domestic Airline” in Conde Nast Traveler’s 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards. On the fifth anniversary of its launch of operations, the airline is rolling out a number of enhancements including the launch of a new uniform for its frontline teammates and the introduction of status benefits within its Elevate frequent flyer program.

As of today, Elevate Gold and Elevate Silver members will begin to enjoy the perks of status, including: priority check-in and boarding; an expanded advance purchase upgrade window for the airline’s exclusive First Class; complimentary space-available upgrades to the carrier’s premium Main Cabin Select service; and the ultimate flight reward*** – a sub-orbital Virgin Galactic flight for the member who accrues the most status points between today and August 7, 2013. Virgin America was the first U.S. airline to award frequent flyer points for virtual “check-ins” via Topguest, a product of Switchfly, Inc – and the new status levels will take social rewards to the next level. Elevate Gold and Elevate Silver members will now be able to share their digital status on social networks and earn points for ‘checking in’***** at the airline’s airport terminals, gates and other locations through applications like Facebook, Instagram and Foursquare. In addition, every day for the next five days, the carrier is giving a social media-savvy flyer the chance to upgrade their status to Elevate Silver – just by virtually checking in.****** For more on Elevate status, visit:

In the past year, Virgin America has marked more than a few notable milestones:

Virgin America implemented eight new interline partnerships and a first codeshare agreement in 2012 – the airline now has 16 interline partners total;

The airline filed for – and was granted – Department of Transportation permission to serve Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) with a daily nonstop flight from its home base at San Francisco International Airport (SFO)starting August 14, 2012;

The airline has grown to a 52-aircraft fleet and now meets the size threshold to be classified a “major” carrier by the DOT;
In March, all three Virgin airlines (Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia) announced full linkage of their respective frequent flyer programs for the first time – allowing each airline’s loyalty program members to redeem miles or points when taking flights on any of the airlines across their route networks;

In April, the carrier launched new service from SFO and Los Angeles (LAX) to Philadelphia International Airport (PHL);
In June, the airline launched new service from SFO and LAX to Portland International Airport (PDX);

In early 2012, Virgin America renewed and expanded its existing partnership with the San Francisco Giants as their Official Airline. In addition to the roll out of a new Virgin America Club level at AT&T Park, the airline named and painted a ‘bearded’ new Airbus A320 aircraft “Fly Bye Baby,” in honor of the Giants;

This month, the airline’s more than 2,000 in-flight and airport teammates will debut a new look on flights and at airports across the country – with new Banana Republic-designed uniforms.

Other notable milestones since the airline’s launch:

In January 2011, the carrier ordered 60 Airbus A320 aircraft, including the first order for the new eco-efficient A320neo;

In June 2011, the airline became the launch customer for the new 15% more fuel efficient CFM LEAP Engine;

In April 2011, the airline opened its sleek new SFO T2 home, with a tandem flight alongside Virgin Galactic’s spaceship;

In October 2010, the airline reported its first quarterly net profit;

In September 2010, the carrier launched a multi-year partnership with Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) to raise awareness and funds for cancer research – with Virgin America teammates appearing on SU2C’s landmark TV broadcast across networks;

Virgin America was the first airline to host to offer in-flight WiFi fleetwide as of May 2009;

Virgin America is the only U.S. domestic airline with standard power outlets at every seat and seat-to-seat text chatting;

Virgin America is the only U.S. airline to offer touch-screen seatback menus that allows guests to order what they want, when they want it during a flight. The airline’s menu was named the “Best Domestic Airline for Food” by Travel + Leisure ;

Virgin America is the first U.S. airline to offer carbon offsets in-flight. The airline’s fleet is up to 25 percent more carbon/fuel efficient than other U.S. fleets.

Virgin America flies to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C. (IAD with DCA starting August 14th), Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Dallas–Fort Worth, Los Cabos, Cancun, Chicago, Puerto Vallarta, Palm Springs, and Portland.

About the author


Editor in chief for eTurboNew is Linda Hohnholz. She is based in the eTN HQ in Honolulu, Hawaii.