About Virgin America
Virgin America was an American low-fare airline founded in 2004 and commenced its operations in 2007 as an independent airline. In 2018 it ceased operations following the merger with Alaska Airlines. In the initial phase of its start, the airline mainly focused on operating low-fare with higher quality services between cities on the West Coast and other major metropolitan areas.
Headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, Burlingame, California, Virgin America’s primary hub was San Francisco International Airport and secondary hub was Los Angeles International Airport from where it operated domestic flights to major cities in the U.S.
Fleet Size and Codeshare Agreements
With an all-Airbus fleet size of around 67, Virgin America flew to 27 domestic destinations and three Mexican destinations with a focus city at Dallas Love Field, as of April 2018. The airline had codeshare agreements with various airlines such as Alaska Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Australia, China Airlines, and others.
The Inception of Virgin America
Virgin Group founded Virgin USA in early 2004 and expected flights to start operating by mid-2005, but due to certain reasons, the launch date was postponed to early 2006. However, the airline changed its name from "Virgin USA" to "Virgin America." After several considerations, the company chose the San Francisco Bay Area as the center of its flight operations and corporate headquarters.
It was in 2007 when Virgin America started selling tickets. Since the beginning, the airline suffered losses, and made its first profit in the year 2010, when it started operating its first international flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Toronto. But, due to high operating costs, the service to Toronto got discontinued in 2011.
Milestones- Launch of Innovative Inflight Services
Virgin America became the first airline in the United States to offer Wi-Fi access via Gogo Inflight Internet on its every flight on May 21, 2009. By January 2010, the airline introduced free Wi-Fi service and in December 2014, it announced faster ATG-4 in-flight Wi-Fi service from Gogo across its fleet. This service was three times faster than the first-generation system.
Merger with Alaska Airlines
In November 2014, Virgin America announced its first public offering at the NASDAQ stock exchange to raise $307 million for the company. Several airlines approached Virgin America for a takeover in late 2015. However, the two most interested companies to make an offer to purchase the airline from the Virgin Group were Alaska Air Group and JetBlue Airways Corporation. Following bidding on March 31 and April 1 at $57 per share, Alaska Air Group revealed that it had agreed to buy Virgin America for approximately $4 billion in April 2016 and on April 24, 2018, the airline was entirely merged into Alaska Airlines.
Main Cabin, Main Cabin Select, and First Class were the three travel classes offered by the airline.
Main Cabin had seats with 32 inches (810 mm) of pitch and were 17.7 inches (450 mm) wide. They were equipped with adjustable headrests for increased comfort and power-ports for charging devices on the plane. After the merger with Alaska Airlines, Virgin America started offering on-demand entertainment system, live satellite television along with a selection of free games, and free beverage service.
Main Cabin Select was Virgin America's Premium Economy Class with seats having 38 inches (970 mm) of pitch, 17.7 inches (450 mm) of width, and dedicated luggage bins. Refreshments, meals, and alcoholic beverages were served for free. Passengers could use Gogo for free but it limited messaging to select platforms, access to TV channels and movies was also free of charge.
First Class cabin had seats with 55 inches (1,400 mm) of pitch and were 21 inches (530 mm) wide, featuring adjustable headrests, recline controls, a massage function, power-ports, and tray table for keeping tablets. First Class passengers were offered complimentary meals, snacks, and alcoholic beverages, a mini amenity kit, and free on-demand entertainment system and Gogo on limited platforms. Those traveling on long-haul flights were given a set of large duvet & pillow for a sound and comfortable sleep.
Elevate- The Frequent Flyer Program
Virgin America's frequent flyer program was known as Elevate. Under this program, the members could convert Elevate points into Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan miles manually till January 31, 2018. While any remaining Elevate points were automatically converted on February 8, 2018.
After the program got discontinued on January 1, 2018, flights run by Virgin America could earn credit on Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan, Emirates Skywards, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Hawaiian Airlines Hawaiian Miles, or Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer until the integration of the airline into Alaska Airlines on April 25, 2018.
Virgin America offered two options in Check-in to its passengers- Online and Airport Check-in.
Passengers could avail the online check-in facility using website or mobile device starting 24 hours and up to 60 minutes before the scheduled flight departure (depending on the departure city and destination).
For self-checking-in at the airport kiosk, the facility was available starting 30 minutes to 2 hours before the scheduled departure time (depending on the departure city and destination).
Interesting Facts about Virgin America
- All the seats included a special seat to seat chat messaging service.
- It was the first airline to introduce pocket-friendly foldable boarding passes.
- All the planes operated by Virgin America had unique names such as Pineapple Express, Unicorn Chaser, Runway Angel, Rabid Badger, Gogo Dancer, and Screw It, Let's Do It.
- The signature mood lighting feature in all of its planes has 12 shades that used to change throughout the flight, depending on the outside light.
- Virgin America collaborated with Google Street View to give its passengers a closer inside look of the cabins. Using this feature, one could rotate the image by clicking it to see the complete inside view of their cabin.
- The airline also teamed up with a creative agency- Eleven Inc. and design studio named SearchnDesign to create a pair of First-Class shoes, an innovative product inspired by the First-Class amenities of Virgin America. Made of high-quality Italian leather in white color, it featured Wi-Fi, mood lighting, a built-in phone charger, and a video display. This was the only pair available in the world and being auctioned for charity purposes.
Virgin America collaborated with Here On Biz, a business app for creating a social network which let the guests/passengers sign up to find friends and news contacts.