Virgin America, the only airline headquartered in California, today marks the launch of new nonstop flight service from its home at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Washington’s Reagan National Airport (DCA), with some red, white and blue festivities for its first commercial flight guests.
Prior to this year, the San Francisco Bay Area did not have nonstop flight service to DCA – the airport closest to the nation’s capital. The new daily flight will bring healthy competition to the route and offer travelers a winning new flight choice – with fleetwide WiFi, power outlets, personal touch-screen entertainment and three classes of service on all Virgin America flights. Today, the airline celebrates the new service with an election-themed inaugural flight – and a partnership with Rock the Vote that allows flyers to register to vote at 35,000 feet via the airline’s Red™ in-flight entertainment platform.
“As the only airline based in California, we’re pleased to bring new competition to this important – and currently underserved – route from the West Coast,” said Virgin America President and CEO David Cush. “We benefitted from a groundswell of community support in our bid to fly to DCA. We know both business flyers and technologically-savvy leisure travelers will enjoy having a new nonstop flight option that allows them to stay connected and productive en route to our nation’s capital.”
Even with the size of the travel market and the San Francisco Bay Area region’s vibrant innovation-based economy, until this year, San Francisco did not have nonstop flights to DCA. As a result, local consumers and businesses suffered for decades with higher fares and limited choice. The new SFO-DCA route became available following the enactment of the FAA Modernisation and Reform Act of 2012, which authorised the DOT to award a limited number of new flights to U.S. domestic airports located beyond DCA’s 1,250-mile “perimeter limit.” Earlier this year, Virgin America received an outpouring of support for its DCA flight application from local elected officials and business organisations
Virgin America has teamed up with Rock the Vote to host some surprises for the airline’s first DCA flight guests today – including the appearance of some very recognisable “politicos,” who will be chatting with travelers on both sides of the aisle en route to the nation’s capital. Presidential impersonators Jim Gossett as “Mitt” and Reggie Brown as “Barack,” will join commercial guests onboard the first flight to help “get out the vote” at 35,000 feet. As of today, guests on all Virgin America flights will be able to use their smartphones*** to scan a QR code on the airline’s Red seatback entertainment platform to register to vote. The mobile application is powered by PromoJam Social Marketing Platform and Rock the Vote – the largest non-partisan voter registration organisation in the country, engaging and building political power for young people in the U.S.
“We the people get to decide who will be flying to DC next year as our representatives, but no matter who you are voting for this November, you have to be registered first,” said Heather Smith, President of Rock The Vote. “Rock the Vote is thrilled to bring voter registration to Virgin America’s guests as well as the opportunity to make a donation to support our efforts to register 1.5 million new voters and educate young Americans about participating in our democracy.”
The airline’s new SFO-DCA schedule is focused on convenient morning and late afternoon/evening departures and arrivals for Bay Area travelers. The airline’s new flight – with the memorable flight number “VX1” – departs San Francisco daily at 8:00am PT and arrives at DCA at 4:05pm ET. The westbound flight – VX2 – departs DCA daily at 5:00pm ET and arrives in San Francisco at 7:40pm PT. The new DCA service will complement Virgin America’s existing service between SFO and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) – the airline currently has four daily nonstop flights between SFO and IAD.
“SFO has been a strong advocate for nonstop DCA service,” said John L. Martin, Airport Director at San Francisco International Airport. “Virgin America’s new nonstop flight will bring more choice and more options to our travelers.”
As one of the few growing U.S. airlines, Virgin America has expanded to 18 destinations, a fleet of 52 new aircraft and over 2,600 teammates since its launch five years ago. In addition to the airline’s impact on fares and service, Virgin America’s decision to headquarter in California has created thousands of local jobs. Virgin America is based at SFO’s Terminal 2. Opened in April 2011, T2 is LEED® Gold-certified and offers travelers a stylish, connected and modern airport experience. Just this month, the airline’s further investment in its “Virgin Village” teammate lounge helped secure the highest possible LEED® Platinum-certification for the carrier’s own T2 office spaces. Both the Gold and Platinum levels are the first such certifications for a major commercial airport in the U.S.
With one of the youngest fleets in the U.S., Virgin America offers a host of inventive amenities – including custom-designed seating, in-flight WiFi, a cabin ‘moodlighting’ system which transitions across 12 shades based on outside light, power outlets near every seat and the most advanced entertainment system in the skies via the Red™ platform. Every guest enjoys their own nine-inch seatback television touch-screen with:
* More than 25 on-demand movies, including independent films, foreign language films and latest release blockbusters.
* 18 channels of live TV and 6 channels of cached TV, including: CNN, MSNBC, ESPN, FOX, CBS, NBC and more.
* 4,000 song music library and the ability for guests to create a custom play-list in-flight.
* A videogame library.
* Interactive Google Maps, so guests can track their journey at eight levels of zoom.
* Onboard seat-to-seat chat messaging.
* World’s first on-demand food and drink ordering system with a menu named best in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure, the San Francisco-based Virgin America just this week introduces hometown brew Anchor Steam Beer aboard its flights nationwide.
In addition to a Main Cabin that offers leather seating with a deeper, more comfortable pitch, the airline’s First Class offers plush white leather seating with 55 inches of pitch, 165 degrees of recline and lumbar massagers. The carrier’s Main Cabin Select offers 38-inches of pitch, free food and cocktails, an all-access pass to media, dedicated overhead bins and priority check-in/boarding.
Virgin America flies to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C. (IAD), Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Cabos, Cancun, Chicago, Puerto Vallarta, Palm Springs, Philadelphia, Portland and Washington D.C.‘s Reagan National (DCA) (as of today).