SAN FRANCISCO, May 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Virgin America, the award-winning domestic airline, today celebrated the launch of its new daily roundtrip service to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS). Low-fare, tech-forward nonstop flights are now available from the carrier's home base at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to the Texas capital. As the only domestic airline to offer WiFi on every flight, and with features like power outlets and personal touch-screen entertainment platforms at every seat, Virgin America's flights will offer a fresh new option that will keep travelers connected and productive when journeying between two of the nation's leading innovation hubs. Today, the airline celebrates its first flight touching down in Austin with a red-carpet welcome for its first commercial guests at the AUS arrival gate. In keeping with Austin and the Virgin brand's musical roots, guests onboard the inaugural flight were also treated to a live, in-flight acoustic performance onboard the Airbus A320 family aircraft by the award-winning Austin-based psychedelic rock band, The Bright Light Social Hour. En route from SFO to the "live music capital of the world," the band surprised guests and performed in the aisles on the commercial flight. Parts of the unique "in air" concert were streamed via the airline's in-flight WiFi and footage can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/virginamerica. As the music fan's airline of choice, Virgin America offers a library of music videos, more than 4,000 curated MP3s and the ability for guests to build their own custom music playlist in-flight – all via the touch-screen Red™ entertainment platform at every seat. Fares between San Francisco and Austin start from $79* (taxes and fees included and restrictions applying) and are available for purchase now at www.virginamerica.com and at 1.877.FLY.VIRGIN**
"Austin and San Francisco share deep cultural and economic ties, so it made perfect sense for us to expand our network into this area that deserves not only increased flight options, but a better brand of service," said Virgin America President and CEO David Cush. "As the only airline serving Austin with WiFi and power outlets at every seat, Virgin America allows business travelers flying between Silicon Valley and the Silicon Hills to stay connected and productive at 35,000 feet. And for those who prefer to tune out in-flight, we offer the largest and most advanced entertainment library in the skies, with on-demand music, live television, video games, interactive Google maps and more than 25 films, all available at their seatback touch-screen."
As the only airline headquartered in the San Francisco Bay area and the first and only airline to offer WiFi on every flight, Virgin America has attracted a loyal following of tech-forward flyers since its launch in 2007. As the airline continues to expand its network, it listened to its most frequent flyers who routinely cited Austin as a 'most wanted' destination. In addition to being the Texas capital, the Austin area is home to the University of Texas at Austin and a robust technology and innovation sector. Many Bay Area employers including Apple, Google and Intel have significant presence in the Austin area.
"Austin and the San Francisco Bay Area share deep business ties, especially our world-class innovation and tech sectors," said Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell. "In order to facilitate tourism and subsequently keep Austin the thriving city we're so proud of, I've been stressing for some time that we need more nonstop flights in and out of our airport. I am pleased to see that Virgin America is adding a nonstop flight to and from the great city of San Francisco, and we welcome them as the newest airline to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. This new service will increase travel demand, offer convenient new options for business and leisure travelers, and spur local economic growth. With Virgin America's tech-focused features onboard, I think the service will be well-received by Austinites."
To help usher the airline into its newest destination, Virgin America is hosting an evening launch party at local live music hot spot Cedar Street Courtyard, where The Bright Light Social Hour will again entertain flight guests, local partners and friends. To help kick off the new Austin service, Virgin America hosted an irreverent social media campaign that invited flyers to show the airline their "business in the front, party in the back"-style, paying homage to Austin's "work hard, play hard" reputation.
"We are thrilled to see that Virgin America will begin their nonstop flight service later this month," said Bob Lander, President and CEO for the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Austin and the San Francisco Bay Area share so many common business connections, particularly within our innovation and technology sectors, that this service will increase travel demand, offer more convenient options for both business and leisure travelers, and help facilitate tourism growth and economic impact."
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 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. Just last month Virgin America was named the best airline in 2012 in the Airline Quality Rating, a joint research project conducted annually by faculty at Wichita State University and Purdue University that looks at airlines' on-time performance and baggage handling, involuntary denied boarding and the customer complaint rates as reported by the DOT.
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. The airline also recently unveiled its latest upgrade to the Red™ platform: a new seat-to-seat delivery feature that allows travelers to send a cocktail, snack or meal to a fellow traveler onboard their flight using a digital seat map. Virgin America already features a seat-to-seat chat platform via its Red in-flight entertainment system, so that travelers can send text messages to other guests on their aircraft. In addition to a Main Cabin that offers custom-designed leather seating with a deeper, more comfortable pitch, Virgin America'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.
To further mark its new Austin service, Virgin America rolled out a frequent flyer program partnership with Silvercar, the Austin-based company revolutionizing the car rental experience with a fleet of WiFi-enabled, premium Audi A4s. Elevate® frequent flyer members can now earn 2,500 Elevate® points on their first and fourth Silvercar rentals – plus four points for every $1 spent with Silvercar. With Virgin America's fleet-wide WiFi and Silvercar's in-car WiFi travelers can stay connected for the duration of their travels. Virgin American passengers can reserve a Silvercar via the Silvercar app or at Silvercar.com and upon arrival at the destination airport, simply scan a QR code located on the windshield of the Silvercar to unlock the vehicle and drive. Like Virgin, Silvercar offers amenities to make travel more enjoyable and more productive including GPS navigation, Sirius XM radio, Bluetooth, and in-car WiFi. Elevate customers enjoy a no-black-out-date frequent flyer program that offers real rewards and Elevate Gold and Elevate Silver status levels with a host of perks including priority check-in, expedited security clearance and boarding, enhanced digital/social rewards and more. The airline is now offering a Status Match program, allowing 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.
Since its launch in 2007, Virgin America has created 2,600 new jobs and now flies to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Newark, Washington D.C. (IAD and DCA), Las Vegas, San Diego, Seattle, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Cabos, Cancun, Chicago, Puerto Vallarta, Palm Springs (seasonal), Philadelphia, Portland, San Jose (SJC), and as of today, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS).
Connecting flights will be available from Austin to the carrier's Seattle, San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Anchorage (seasonal – starting June 6, 2013) destinations.
For high resolution photos of Virgin America's interior cabin amenities and exterior see: www.virginamerica.com/vx/photos.
Broadcast quality video b-roll can also be downloaded here.
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. For more: www.virginamerica.com
About The Bright Light Social Hour: The Bright Light Social Hour is an American rock band from Austin, Texas. Born out of a university art-rock collective, the band first gained attention in Austin from their incendiary live performances and innovative vision of rock and roll. Melding southern rock, hard dance, psychedelic blues, and deep soul, their debut full-length album led to heightening critical acclaim, national touring, and a rare sweep of awards, including for Band of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year in 2011 at the Austin Music Awards. The Bright Light Social Hour is currently working on their second full-length album. For more information, visit www.thebrightlightsocialhour.com.
*All Main Cabin fares are one-way. $79 Main Cabin fares for AUS-SFO are only valid for travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays between September 3, 2013 and November 20, 2013. $79 Main Cabin fares for AUS-SFO must be purchased by 11:59pm CT May 21, 2013. All other Main Cabin fares must be purchased by 11:59pm CT on May 29, 2013. Main Cabin fares for ANC-SFO require a 14-day advance purchase and travel must occur between June 6, 2013 and June 30, 2013. Main Cabin fares for LAS-LAX, LAX-SFO, LAX-SJC, LAS-SFO, SAN-SFO, LAX-SEA, SEA-SFO, LAX-PDX and PDX-SFO require a 10-day advance purchase and travel must occur between June 1, 2013 and June 12, 2013 or September 3, 2013 and November 20, 2013. All other Main Cabin fares require travel between September 3, 2013 and November 20, 2013. Lowest sale fares are only valid for travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Lowest sale fares are available only on certain itineraries. 2013 blackout dates are: 11/8 and 11/11. 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.
**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