Sir Richard Branson Welcomes First Flights, Invites Flyers to a "Taste Test" Match-Up on Virgin America vs. the Competition
SAN FRANCISCO, May 25, 2011
SAN FRANCISCO, May 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Virgin America, the new domestic airline that is reinventing travel, today launches its low-fare, upscale service to Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD), with daily nonstop flights from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO). With legacy airlines representing 98 percent of domestic departures at ORD, the airline hopes to inject some healthy competition into the market. Known for friendly service, beautifully designed cabins and high-tech amenities, like touch-screen entertainment at every seat, Virgin America has been winning over consumers and travel awards since its 2007 launch, including "Best Domestic Airline" in both Conde Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards and Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards for the past three years. Today, Virgin America welcomes its dual inaugural flights with a red carpet welcome on the ORD tarmac followed by a party with a Virgin twist at the airline's new L3 gate. Local officials and Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson will greet the airline's first guests, including "Flight for Chicago" Facebook fans who scored the chance to "taste test" the new airline versus the competition with a free one-way flight on a legacy carrier and a return on Virgin America. To mark its entrance into the ORD ring, the airline today launches a knockout combination for Chicago flyers: a Groupon deal,* a Flash Flyaway,** a Fare Sale,*** and a triple points offer**** that flyers can actually use – good for travel now through August 31,2011, via the airline's no-blackout date Elevate frequent flyer program.
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"Until today, travelers flying from O'Hare to the two largest California airports had little choice and few low fare options. We believe our flights will be a breath of fresh air for Chicago travelers and thank the City and O'Hare officials for their efforts to open up access to new competition," said Virgin America President and Chief Executive Officer David Cush. "Flyers deserve more options than just the off-chance they may be upgraded from poor to mediocre on a legacy airline. On Virgin America across every class of service, everyone has a great seat, friendly service, their own seatback entertainment and status – right out of the gate."
Virgin America is a low-fare airline that has created 2000 jobs and welcomed more than 11 million guests since its 2007 launch. The airline continues to fuel significant growth, with expansion into major markets like ORD and a new fleet that is expected to nearly triple in size by 2019. The airline first announced its intent to serve ORD in 2008, but its plans were delayed due to gate availability. With the leadership provided by the City of Chicago and Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino,, the carrier reached an agreement to occupy gate space at ORD's Concourse L. In line with its sleek, tech-forward aircraft cabins, Virgin America's new L3 gate offers stylish and sustainable design as well as connectivity, with power outlets and wireless induction chargers near all gate seating. In addition to power outlets near every seat onboard its aircraft, Virgin America was the first carrier to offer fleetwide WiFi. The airline's investment in new aircraft and use of best practices on the ground and in the air, make its fleet up to 25 percent more fuel and carbon efficient than the average fleet flying in the U.S. Virgin America has invested in its new L3 gate to meet and exceed ORD's already high specifications for environmental efficiency.
"Virgin America's products and services are a great fit for the City of Chicago and O'Hare International Airport as we continue to provide world-class service to travelers," said CDA Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino.. "Forward-looking investments at O'Hare have attracted innovative young carriers like Virgin America to Chicago – and new entrant carriers create local jobs and bring more competition and services to the Chicago market. Virgin America's focus on the environmental efficiency of its fleet and facilities is also a great fit with the CDA's industry-leading sustainability efforts."
To encourage flyers to "get in the ring" with O'Hare's newest airline, Virgin America today launches a series of knockout deals:
- Today's Groupon deal gives Chicago Groupon subscribers the chance to purchase a $25 Groupon good for $100 in air travel towards a roundtrip purchase on Virgin America's ORD flights.* When more than 25 people accept the offer, up to 3000 Chicagoans can score this unbeatable deal, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefitting Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C). Today's Groupon is not the first time that the tech-savvy carrier has joined forces with the Chicago-based daily deal pioneer. In February, Virgin America announced its ORD service with the first-ever Groupon aimed solely at air travel. The offer sold out in minutes. To purchase or to find out more on today's offer, visit: http://www.groupon.com/deals/virgin-america-chicago-2
- Today, the airline extends its "Flight for Chicago" social media campaign with a flash flyaway**giving Chicagoans the chance to decide the "champion of the skies" via a roundtrip match-up. A code is being released on Virgin America's Facebook page and Twitter feed today. The first 10 Chicagoans who use it to book a Main Cabin seat at www.virginamerica.com on the carrier's 5:35pm inaugural flight today from ORD-SFO (VX 841), score a $25** fare (restrictions, taxes and fees apply), a stay at the Galleria Park Hotel (a Joie de Vivre hotel in San Francisco) and a free coach return on the legacy competition. Branson will send off the winners at ORD this afternoon. The $25 fare will be donated by Virgin America to SU2C. See: http://www.virginamerica.com/vx/booking/chicago-flyaway-challenge
- A Knockout Fare Sale launches today across the airline's network with ORD-SFO and ORD-LAX fares from $139*** (restrictions, taxes and fees apply). Tickets are on sale now at www.virginamerica.com and by calling 1.877.FLY.VIRGIN (1.877.359.8474).*****
- An Elevate triple points offer**** is available now for travel through August 31, 2011, between SFO or LAX and the carrier's newest markets of Chicago and Dallas-Fort Worth. Elevate is Virgin America's no black-out date frequent flyer program, which offers guests the ability to redeem points for any unsold seat – on any flight, at any time. Elevate has one of the industry's most generous reward programs, with as few as four roundtrips or 2,500 points earning a reward flight. For more on the offer: http://www.virginamerica.com/vx/triple-points-promo To sign up for Elevate: http://www.virginamerica.com/frequent-flyer/elevate-program.html
Virgin America's new aircraft offer a host of innovative amenities, including custom-designed seating, mood-lit cabins, power outlets and the most advanced entertainment system in the skies. The Red™ entertainment platform offers each guest their own nine inch touch-screen TV with 30 on-demand films, live TV, Google Maps, videogames, seat-to-seat chat, music videos, a 3000 track MP3 catalog and an on-demand menu – so flyers can order a cocktail or meal from their seat any time during a flight. In 2009, the airline became the first to offer WiFi fleetwide via its partnership with the Illinois-based Aircell. The carrier marked the milestone with the first air-to-ground SKYPE from 35,000 feet to Oprah Winfrey in her studio audience. In addition to a Main Cabin that offers each guest a personal TV, outlets and a leather seat 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 option offers 38-inches of pitch, free food and cocktails, an all-access pass to the Red system's countless media options, dedicated overhead bins and priority check-in/boarding.
The airline's daily nonstop ORD schedule is as follows (the airline will operate a special schedule on its inaugural day):
Connecting flights are also available from ORD to Virgin America's San Diego, Seattle and Las Vegas destinations.
Tonight, special guests arriving from the airline's first flights from California will join Chicagoans at Virgin America's star-studded launch party at one of the most talked about Chicago hotspots – ROOF at theWit Hotel.
Photos/video of the carrier's aircraft and unique cabins can be found at: http://www.virginamerica.com/vx/booking/chicago-ord-launch
Virgin America flies to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Cabos, Cancun, and as of today – Chicago.
About Virgin America: Headquartered in California, Virgin America offers guests low fares and a host of inventive features. The airline's new aircraft offer interactive in-flight entertainment systems and power outlets near every seat. Virgin America offers Gogo™ WiFi on every flight and hosts the largest in-flight entertainment library in the North American skies via the touch-screen Red™ platform. In January, the airline announced plans to nearly triple its fleet size by 2019 and placed the first order for the new eco-efficient Airbus A320neo. In April, the airline opened its new home as an anchor tenant at SFO's beautiful and sustainable Terminal 2 (T2). In addition to a LEED® Silver-certified corporate headquarters, the carrier's investment in its own spaces at T2 are slated to achieve the highest possible LEED® Platinum-certification. Virgin America is proud to be affiliated with the Virgin Group, which has committed to reinvesting all profits from Virgin-transport businesses to renewable fuels research and other initiatives that combat climate change. For more: www.virginamerica.com
About Stand Up To Cancer: Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) was established by leaders from the film and media industries who utilize the resources of those businesses in unique ways to get the public involved in supporting a new model of cancer research. The group produced two major televised events, in 2008 and 2010, that raised funds for teams of scientists collaborating on research that will get new therapies to patients quickly in order to save lives now. As Stand Up to Cancer's (SU2C) Official Domestic Airline partner, Virgin America has pledged to support SU2C's mission through a multi-year partnership aimed at driving awareness and funding for accelerated cancer research to save lives. On Virgin America, travelers are able to join the SU2C movement via the Red™ platform. Virgin America guests can visit the Shop "Make a Difference" section on the Red platform, choose a donation, swipe a credit card and join the fight to bring an end to cancer – right from their seatback touch-screen. 100% of the funds raised both through the Flight for Chicago Challenge and onboard go directly to collaborative cancer research. The Virgin America-SU2C partnership kicked off in September 2010, just as SU2C returned to primetime television for a star-studded show simultaneously aired on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and many cable networks. The show combined entertainment with an appeal to build public support for cancer research and included an appearance by Sir Richard Branson and Virgin America's teammates.
*Groupon Terms and Conditions: This offer is for a unique promo code good for $100 off roundtrip travel on Virgin America between Chicago (ORD) and San Francisco (SFO)/Los Angeles (LAX) in the following non-refundable Main Cabin fare classes: S, L, M, U, E, H, B, or V. Codes may not be redeemed until offer begins on 12:01am PDT May 26, 2011. Promo code may only be used once and is only valid for a single guest roundtrip itinerary. Tickets must be purchased at least 7 days in advance of outbound travel and before 11:59pm PDT on June 30, 2011. This offer is not valid for travel to any other destinations or one way or multi-city itineraries. $100 will be deducted from the roundtrip base ticket price only; government-imposed taxes and fees are additional and promo code may not be used towards such taxes and fees, which include: Passenger Facility Charges of up to $9 each way, a September 11th Security Fee of up to $5 each way and a Federal Segment Tax of $3.70 per domestic segment. A segment is a takeoff and landing. All travel under this offer must occur between June 1, 2011 and June 15, 2011 or September 6, 2011 and October 27, 2011. Promo code may be used only towards newly booked travel and may not be applied to prior bookings. Promo code may not be redeemed for cash. Promo code may only be used for bookings made on virginamerica.com and is only valid on itineraries of one (1) guest. Offer cannot be combined with any other offers. Seats are limited, subject to availability, and may not be available on all flights. If travel is changed or cancelled, promo code discount will become invalid. Changes or cancellations can be made for a $75 fee if changes are made on Virgin America's website or a $100 fee through all other channels, including the call center and at the airport, plus any increase in fare, if applicable. Increase in fare is calculated as the difference between the new fare and the amount originally paid post-discount. Tickets purchased through Virgin America's reservation call center will cost an additional $20 per guest per itinerary; this amount is non refundable if travel is changed or cancelled. Fares will not be honored retroactively or in exchange for any wholly or partially used ticket. Fares, routes, fees and schedules are subject to change without notice. Virgin America will accept one (1) piece of checked baggage up to 70 pounds for $25 for each ticketed guest traveling within the U.S. The fee per guest for each additional checked bag up to 50 pounds from the second (2) to the tenth (10) is $25. Additional fees apply to baggage exceeding these weight limitations, and other baggage restrictions may apply.
**Flash Flyaway Terms and Conditions: This offer is valid for a $25 one-way travel on flight VX 841 ORD-SFO on May 25, 2011 only. Only for the first ten bookings made with promo code FLIGHT4CHICAGO are eligible for this offer. This offer is not valid for travel on any other dates or destinations. $25 fare applies to base ticket price of a Main Cabin Nonrefundable seat only; government-imposed taxes and fees are additional and promo code may not be used towards such taxes and fees, which include: Passenger Facility Charges of up to $9 each way, a September 11th Security Fee of up to $5 each way and a Federal Segment Tax of $3.70 per domestic segment. A segment is a takeoff and landing. Promo code may be used only towards newly booked travel and may not be applied to prior bookings. Promo code may not be redeemed for cash. Promo code may only be used for bookings made on virginamerica.com and is only valid on itineraries of up to two (2) guests. Offer cannot be combined with any other offers. Seats are limited, subject to availability, and may not be available on all flights. If travel is changed or cancelled, promo code discount will become invalid. Changes or cancellations can be made for a $75 fee if changes are made on Virgin America's website or a $100 fee through all other channels, including the call center and at the airport, plus any increase in fare, if applicable. Increase in fare is calculated as the difference between the new fare and the amount originally paid post-discount. Fares will not be honored retroactively or in exchange for any wholly or partially used ticket. Fares, routes, fees and schedules are subject to change without notice. Virgin America will accept one (1) piece of checked baggage up to 70 pounds for $25 for each ticketed guest traveling within the U.S. The fee per guest for each additional checked bag up to 50 pounds from the second (2) to the tenth (10) is $25. Additional fees apply to baggage exceeding these weight limitations, and other baggage restrictions may apply.
***Fare Sale Terms and Conditions: All Main Cabin fares are one-way, based on travel originating from the U.S., and require a 7-day advance purchase. For service to/from Cancun, travel must occur between August 24, 2011 and November 16, 2011. For all other markets, travel must occur between June 1, 2011 and June 30, 2011 or between August 24, 2011 and November 16, 2011. Blackout dates are September 2, 2011 and September 5, 2011. Tickets must be purchased by 11:59pm PDT May 31, 2011. Lowest sale fares are not available for travel on Fridays and Sundays. Nonstop Los Angeles-Cancun service does not operate on Monday and Thursday. Nonstop San Francisco-Cancun service operates on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Fares do not include Passenger Facility Charges of up to $9 each way, a September 11th Security Fee of up to $5 each way and a Federal Segment Tax of $3.70 per domestic segment. A segment is a takeoff and landing. For service to/from Mexico, fares do not include the U.S. Immigration User Fee of $7, the U.S. APHIS fee of $5, the U.S. International Arrival/Departure tax of $16.30 each way and additional taxes/fees of up to $60, including: Mexico International Departure Tax and Mexico Tourism Tax. Tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable. Seats are limited, subject to availability, and may not be available on all flights. Flights may not operate daily. Changes or cancellations can be made for a $75 fee if changes are made on Virgin America's website (www.virginamerica.com) or a $100 fee through all other channels, including the call center and at the airport, plus any increase in fare, if applicable. Changes or cancellations of a booking made with Elevate Points will be subject to a $75 redeposit fee. Guests who no-show without a change or cancel prior to the scheduled departure time will forfeit the amount of this fare. In addition, any future flights booked in the same reservation will also be canceled and the fare will be forfeited. Tickets purchased from Virgin America through our reservation call center will cost an additional $20 per guest per itinerary. Any added cost associated with purchasing tickets from Virgin America through our reservation call center will be non-refundable. Fares will not be honored retroactively or in exchange for any wholly or partially used ticket. Fares, routes, fees and schedules are subject to change without notice. Virgin America will accept one (1) piece of checked baggage up to 50 pounds (70 pounds for travel through October 28, 2011) for $25 for each ticketed guest traveling within the U.S. and for free of charge for each ticketed guest traveling to/from Mexico. The fee per guest for each additional checked bag up to 50 pounds from the second (2) to the tenth (10) is $25. Additional fees apply to baggage exceeding these weight limitations, and other baggage restrictions may apply.
****Elevate Triple Points Offer: The typical earn for Elevate members is 5 points per $1 spent on the base fare – in this promotion, they will earn 15 points per $1 spent on the base fare. Flights eligible for the promotion are all flights between ORD and SFO, ORD and LAX, DFW and SFO, and DFW and LAX each way. Guests must be enrolled in Elevate prior to registering for this promotion. Elevate members must register prior to their travel date to be eligible for the bonus points. Elevate members must correctly add their Elevate number to their reservation prior to their travel date. Registration ends on 8/31/11. The promotion applies to ALL specified flights (including ones that have been booked prior to May 25, 2011) that are flown between 5/25/11 and 8/31/11. Elevate members who meet the registration, booking and travel requirements will get triple points for all flights during this time. (For instance, if a member has 2 roundtrips, then they will get triple for both roundtrips.) Points Posting: Elevate members will receive their points for the flights in 2 steps: After the flight is flown, they will receive the normal 5 points per $1 in their Elevate account. Within 4-6 weeks after the flight being flown, they will then receive the 10 additional bonus points per $1 in their Elevate account (for a total of 15 points per $1.) Reward travel during this period is not eligible for earning points. Any changes or cancellations might result in disqualification from the promotion. All Elevate program terms and conditions apply. Points required to redeem an Elevate travel reward on Virgin America will be publicly available on a seat and flight-specific basis and are subject to change. Domestic reward bookings are subject to a security fee of $2.50 per segment, payable by credit card or Virgin America credit file. The Passenger Facility Charge and Segment Fees are waived for domestic reward bookings. For international reward bookings, Virgin America guests are responsible for the taxes and fees incurred from international travel. These taxes and fees are subject to change at the discretion of each country's government and also vary from country to country depending on the origin and destination.
*****Any guest calling within the United States has access to a complimentary telecommunication relay service by dialing 711. For more information, go to: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/telecomm.asp
SOURCE Virgin America