SAN FRANCISCO, April 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Virgin America today celebrates the launch of its new service to Newark, New Jersey – the 20th destination in the carrier's growing network. At a time when most U.S. carriers have been consolidating, Virgin America is bringing its blend of upscale service and competitive fares to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) with three daily conveniently timed nonstop flights from both Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Virgin America's Newark service will support local jobs, stimulate travel and spur the increased competition that drives lower fares and better service. Prior to entering the EWR market – one of the nation's top business travel markets – the San Francisco-EWR route was served only by a single airline and the Los Angeles-Newark route was served by no low-fare carriers. Since Virgin America's launch of EWR sales, fares on the routes have dropped by as much as 40 percent.
Known for its new fleet and business-friendly amenities, Virgin America's service offers Garden State travelers a fresh flight option with beautifully designed mood-lit cabins with three classes of service, WiFi, power outlets and touch-screen personal entertainment platforms at every seat – on every flight. Today, New Jersey leaders and Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson will help send guests on one of the airline's first EWR-LAX flights off in high style with a red carpet reception from the EWR departure gate. Branson will also join local flyers, Mashable CEO & Founder Pete Cashmore and area partners for a pre-flight Google+ "Fly Like a Boss" hangout to discuss how technology is changing business and travel.
"Our new nonstop service from Newark to the West Coast is bringing some healthy competition to travelers, with lower fares and service that allows them to stay connected, comfortable and productive coast-to-coast," said Virgin America President and CEO David Cush. "Before we entered the market, these routes previously had some of the highest fares in the nation. Since we entered the market, fares have dropped by nearly 40 percent, last-minute walk-up fares have dropped by about 30 percent, and travelers now have a fresh option with WiFi, new aircraft, live TV and award-winning service on every flight."
The new EWR routes significantly expand Virgin America's presence in the New York/New Jersey area. The airline has already built a following of bi-coastal flyers with its popular nonstop flights from both LAX and SFO to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). With the addition of Newark, Virgin America now serves nine of the top 10 business markets from SFO and eight of the top 10 business markets from LAX. Virgin America is the only airline to offer in-flight WiFi on every flight, and will be the only airline serving the Newark-West Coast routes to offer WiFi, power outlets and live satellite TV at every seat – on every flight. The carrier has taken top honors as "Best U.S. Airline" in both Conde Nast Traveler's annual Readers' Choice Awards and Travel + Leisure's annual World's Best Awards every year since its 2007 launch.
"We are very pleased to welcome Virgin America to Newark Liberty," said New Jersey Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. "Expanded air travel between the Golden State and the Garden State strengthens existing business ties and benefits both the New Jersey and California state economies, while also providing additional travel options for customers throughout the metropolitan region."
To further celebrate the New Jersey service, Virgin America today launched a one-day fare sale with Newark flights from $99* (taxes and fees included and restrictions applying). For more, visit http://www.virginamerica.com/vx/booking/flight-deals/
Late last month, the airline named the 53rd member of its fleet in honor of the Garden State after inviting social audiences to show their "New Jersey" pride by submitting a name. The winning name, "Jersey Girl," will grace the nose of the first aircraft in Virgin America's fleet to be outfitted with Airbus's new "Sharklet" technology, which promises to be one of the most fuel-efficient aircraft in the nation once she takes to the skies later this month.
"Virgin America's arrival at Newark Liberty is certain to enhance the experience of the 34 million passengers who use the airport annually,'' said Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Chairman David Samson. "The Port Authority remains committed to partnering with quality carriers like Virgin America which, in addition to benefiting travelers, will generate jobs, wages and economic activity in our region."
Today, Branson joins Mashable's Pete Cashmore for a special Google+ hangout onboard the aircraft pre-flight at EWR to discuss how technology is changing entrepreneurship and travel. As the first airline to offer fleetwide WiFi as of 2009, a strong social media following and roots in the Silicon Valley, earlier this spring Virgin America hosted a social media campaign that invited travelers on both coasts to share how they would use the airline's entrepreneur-friendly features to "fly like a boss." Travelers who shared their stories with the hashtag #flylikeaboss saw their Tweets appear on a digital billboard in the New Jersey/New York area. Top submitters won the chance to join the inaugural Newark flight and Google+ hangout today.
In February, Virgin America initiated a poll of its Elevate® frequent flyers** to solicit feedback on what aspects of business travel they would like to change or improve upon. With more than 2.6 Million Elevate® members and headquarters in Silicon Valley, the airline has a strong base of frequent business travelers and entrepreneurs. The poll results included the following:
- When asked about their "most wanted" airline amenity when traveling for business, 40 percent of those surveyed noted the availability of nonstop flight options, followed by 24 percent who said their top requested business travel feature was the availability of in-flight WiFi.
- Over 50 percent of respondents use a laptop or electronic device to get work done on every flight they take, with a further 34 percent using their electronic devices every two to three flights.
- 32 percent use in-flight WiFi on every WiFi-enabled flight they take; a further 14 percent use WiFi at least once per trip; and an additional 19 percent use in-flight WiFi occasionally (every two to three WiFi-enabled flights they take).
- Delays were rated as the most frustrating aspect of business travel – noted by a full 33 percent of respondents -- followed by not enough legroom or seat space (16 percent).
In honor of its newest route, Virgin America is also partnering with the Knowledge is Power Program's (KIPP) TEAM Charter Schools in Newark. This partnership will help fund college trips for up-and-coming junior-high school entrepreneurs heading to the West Coast this summer. Some of the students that are participating in the summer trips were on-hand to join Virgin's Entrepreneur-in-Chief – Sir Richard Branson for the flight celebration and Google+ hangout.
"Virgin America joins a premier family of airlines at Newark Liberty International Airport," said Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni. "Their commitment brings new jobs and opportunities to the people of our region. We welcome Virgin America to the Newark Liberty family."
"Newark is a top business travel airport that offers convenience in the heart of one of the world's most vibrant economies – it deserved more and better flight options. We're thankful to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and local leaders who had the vision to make that happen and increase air service for New Jersey travelers," added Cush.
With outstanding service, beautifully designed cabins and unrivalled in-flight entertainment, Virgin America has swept the travel awards since its 2007 launch for the past five years. The airline's Red™ entertainment platform offers guests their own seatback touch-screen TV, with 25 films, live TV, Google Maps, video games, seat-to-seat chat, music videos, a 4,000-song library and an on-demand menu that allows flyers to order a cocktail or snack from their seatback any time during a flight. In addition to a Main Cabin that offers custom-designed 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 option offers 38-inches of pitch, free food and cocktails, an all-access pass to media content, dedicated overhead bins and priority check-in/boarding. In 2012, Virgin America launched a suite of enhancements to its Elevate® frequent flyer program, including Elevate Gold and Elevate Silver status levels that offer perks such as: priority check-in, security clearance and boarding; points earning bonuses; free checked bag allowances; enhanced digital/social rewards; private discounts; an expanded advance purchase upgrade window for the airline's exclusive eight-seat First Class; complimentary space-available upgrades to the carrier's premium Main Cabin Select service; and complimentary access to the best seat assignments within Main Cabin. Virgin America recently extended its Elevate Status Match program, offering qualifying elite level flyers from select airline frequent flyer programs the ability to match their status to Virgin America's Elevate Gold and Elevate Silver Status levels – without giving up their status (or any points/miles) in their current program. For more details please see: www.virginamerica.com/statusmatch
Connecting flights are available from EWR to and from the airline's Las Vegas, Portland, Seattle, Palm Springs, San Diego, San Jose (beginning May 1) and Los Cabos destinations.
Newark travelers can also connect to Virgin America's codeshare and interline partners including Virgin Australia, Hawaiian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, China Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Air New Zealand, Korean Air, Cathay Pacific, El Al, Air Pacific, Japan Airlines, Thai Airways and Air China.
Photos of Virgin America's unique aircraft: http://www.virginamerica.com/about/airline-photos/virgin-america-pictures.html
Broadcast quality video b-roll can also be downloaded at: http://www.virginamerica.com/about/airline-company.html
About Virgin America: Headquartered in California, Virgin America offers guests attractive fares and a host of innovative features aimed at reinventing air travel. In just over five years flying, Virgin America was named "Best Domestic Airline" in the Conde Nast Traveler 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 'Readers' Choice' Awards and "Best Domestic Airline" in Travel + Leisure's 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 'World's Best' Awards. The airline's base of operations is San Francisco International Airport (SFO)'s sleek and sustainable new Terminal 2. 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. Since 2007, the airline has expanded to 20 airport destinations and has created 2,600 new jobs. Virgin America flies to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Newark, Washington D.C. (IAD), Las Vegas, San Diego, Seattle, 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). Later this spring, the carrier will launch service from Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) on May 1, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) on May 21 and Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) on June 6. For more: www.virginamerica.com
About TEAM/KIPP: Founded in 2002 with one class of 80 students, TEAM Schools now serves more than 1800 students in grades K-3 and 5-12 (growing to serve K-12). TEAM has demonstrated the capacity to scale while maintaining a high standard of quality. TEAM plans to continue to grow over the next 10 years to serve more than 5,000 students - more than 10% of all Newark Public School students. Achieving this scale would allow TEAM to meet far more of the demand from the community and would begin to transform the surrounding district. The mission of TEAM Schools is to create a network of schools in Newark, New Jersey, that instill in their students the desire and ability to succeed in college, in order to change the world. TEAM's vision is that one day, the nation will know Newark, New Jersey, as a city of world-class public education. For more information, visit www.teamschools.org/. TEAM is part of the national network of KIPP charter schools. KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, is a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public schools with a track record of preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life. There are currently 109 KIPP schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia serving more than 32,000 students. To learn more, visit www.kipp.org
*All Main Cabin fares are one-way. Main Cabin fares require a 21-day advance purchase and travel must occur between September 3, 2013 and October 30, 2013. Tickets must be purchased by 11:59pm CT April 9, 2013. Lowest sale fares are available only on certain itineraries. Lowest sale fares are valid only for travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Blackout dates do not apply. Seats are limited, subject to availability, and may not be available on all flights. Flights may not operate daily. Tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable. Changes or cancellations can be made for a $100 fee per guest through all channels, plus any increase in fare, if applicable. Any remaining balance will be placed in a guest's travel bank, good for travel on Virgin America for one year from date of issue. Changes or cancellations of a booking made with Elevate Points will be subject to a $100 redeposit fee per guest. Guests who no-show without a change or cancellation 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 up to ten pieces of checked baggage, up to 50 pounds each, per ticketed guest traveling within the U.S. The fee for each piece of checked baggage up to 50 pounds is $25. Additional fees apply to baggage exceeding these weight limitations, and other baggage restrictions may apply.
**More about the survey: Conducted in February 2013, the survey was a focused poll of Virgin America Elevate® frequent flyers, asking guests what amenities they prefer for business travel and how they would change or improve upon the domestic airline business travel experience. The results included responses from over 9,000 opted-in Elevate members who had flown at least four trips on Virgin America within the past 12 months. 66 percent of respondents were also members of up to three other airline frequent flyer programs, in addition to Elevate®.
SOURCE Virgin America