Virgin America, the award-winning U.S. airline, today marks the touch-down of its new flights in Philadelphia – the 17th market in the carrier’s rapidly growing network. At a time when most airlines are cutting capacity, Virgin America is growing and bringing its unique blend of upscale service and low fares to Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) – with nonstop flights from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as of today and from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) as of April 10. Virgin America will be the first U.S. airline to launch new service at PHL in eight years – injecting competition into West Coast to PHL routes currently only served nonstop by legacy carriers.
In addition to lowering fares and creating new jobs, Virgin America’s expansion will offer Philadelphians a fresh travel option. Known for beautifully-designed new planes with WiFi and touch-screen entertainment at every seat, Virgin America has swept the travel awards since its launch, including being named “Best U.S. Airline” in Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards and Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards. Today, the airline welcomes its first PHL flight at a “tailgate on the tarmac” celebration, with Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson. With live TV at every seat, Virgin America has become the airline of choice for entertainment and sports fans – and the carrier teamed up with FX’s hit show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia to announce the PHL route in January and to offer fans the chance to join the show’s sports-crazed Greenman for the ultimate tailgate party upon touch-down of the first Virgin ‘tail’ at PHL.
“Philadelphia is a vibrant, world class city that deserves more airline competition,” said Virgin America President and Chief Executive Officer David Cush. “In addition to bringing low fare competition to routes previously only served nonstop by legacy carriers, we believe our unique service will be a welcome change for Philadelphians tired of the typical domestic airline cattle car.”
As one of the few growing U.S. airlines, Virgin America has expanded to 17 destinations, a fleet of 50 new aircraft and over 2,500 teammates since its launch in August 2007. The airline plans to add approximately 200-500 new jobs on an annual basis over the next three to five years – including local Philadelphia jobs created by the new service.
“This is a great day for Philadelphia and our Airport,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “We are thrilled that travelers in our region now have convenient access to Virgin America’s award-winning service. This new service to the West Coast will stimulate our regional economy and give travelers more choices. It’s a pleasure to welcome Virgin America to our Airport family, and I congratulate this fine airline for recognizing the value of doing business with our great city.”
In honor of its newest route, Virgin America this week launches a “Liberating” network-wide fare sale. PHL-LAX fares start from $159* and PHL-SFO fares start from $179* (restrictions apply).
“After having flown Virgin America, I know they are truly offering a different option for travelers in the domestic skies,” said Rina Cutler, Deputy Mayor, Transportation and Utilities. “We are very excited that our local flyers will now be able to benefit from low-fare competition and by having a new service choice.”
In addition to the airline’s first commercial flyers, today’s inaugural flight will include special guests like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia cast member Glenn Howerton and model/actress/singer Amber Rose. The flight will be welcomed on the tarmac by the Mayor, Branson and Philly ‘super-fans’ who scored a spot at the party via a Facebook promotion. After the flight lands, the festivities continue at a private corporate reception hosted by Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and Select Greater Philadelphia. Later tonight, the airline hosts a launch party at downtown Philadelphia hotspot – Hotel Palomar (a Kimpton Hotel), where Philly’s own DJ Jazzy Jeff will be spinning for guests, including the airline’s new PHL teammates and notables like Academy Award nominated actor Terrence Howard, Pennsylvania-born hip hop artist Wiz Khalifa, filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, Penn Badgley, Zoe Kravitz and The Roots.
“With lower fares and award-winning service, Virgin America is a welcomed addition to our current aviation offerings,” said Philadelphia International Airport Chief Executive Officer Mark Gale. “When airlines compete, consumers win, and we’re looking forward to a long partnership with this innovative air travel brand.”
With one of the youngest fleets in the U.S., Virgin America offers sleek, tech-forward aircraft cabins with 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 Virgin America guest enjoys their own nine-inch seatback television touch-screen with:
* More than 35 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, ESPN, FOX, ABC, CBS, NBC and more.
* 3,000 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. Virgin America teamed up with Gilt Taste for the first Philadelphia flights to also offer guests a unique Philly-inspired menu of Dutch chocolates, soft pretzels and cheesecake desserts.
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.