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Jul 02, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Virgin America, the California-based airline that is reinventing travel, today was named "Top Domestic Airline" in the prestigious Travel + Leisure 2013 World's Best Awards readers' survey – for the sixth consecutive year. The annual Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards highlight the results of a survey that captures the opinions of Travel + Leisure readers on their favorite travel experiences. In this 18th annual readers' survey, airlines were rated by Travel + Leisure readers in four categories, including: cabin comfort, in-flight service, customer service and value. Select survey results, including Virgin America's win, were profiled on NBC's TODAY Show this morning and are now featured

"Receiving independent feedback from thousands of the most discerning travelers out there is not only an honor but a continued validation of the work of our teammates in creating a service experience that stands head and shoulders above the competition," said Virgin America President and CEO David Cush. "Awards like this show that we're continuing to live up to the mission set out for the airline from day one: to reinvent the domestic flying experience and create an airline people really love. We're grateful to our loyal flyers who have always believed that they can and should expect more from an airline – and we intend to keep delivering on that promise."

With topnotch guest service, beautiful design and a variety of innovative amenities, Virgin America has earned a host of industry awards since launching service in 2007. With one of the youngest fleets in the U.S., Virgin America offers guests sleek, tech-forward aircraft cabins with custom-designed seating, fleetwide in-flight WiFi, signature "moodlighting," power outlets near every seat and the most advanced in-flight entertainment system in the skies. The Red™ in-flight entertainment platform offers every traveler a seatback touch-screen with on-demand films, live and premium TV, interactive Google Maps, music videos, videogames, seat-to-seat chat, a 4,000 MP3 library and an on-demand menu – so guests can order a cocktail or meal from their seatback at any time during the flight. In April 2013, the airline added the ability for guests to send a menu item via the touch-screen menu to fellow travelers in another seat. Virgin America offers one of the largest selections of fresh menu items, with a focus on lighter, more health-focused options in keeping with the airline's California roots. The menu was named best in the U.S. in 2009 by Travel + Leisure.

In 2012, Virgin America opened its first airport lounge – The Loft at LAX – and launched a suite of enhancements to its Elevate® frequent flyer program, including Elevate Gold and Elevate Silver status levels that offer perks that include: 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.

Since its 2007 launch, Virgin America has expanded its network to include 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, Austin and most recently, Anchorage (seasonal).

San Francisco-based Virgin America is an American LCC, owned by VAI Partners and The Virgin Group. With its fleet of Airbus narrowbody aircraft and a popular low-cost product, Virgin America operates a network of services along the US West Coast, as well as trans-national services services between major cities on the East and West Coasts of the US. Virgin America's largest base is at San Francisco International Airport.


June 2nd, 2014 . by John Frenaye

Richard Branson clearly knows a thing or two about success. At 20, he started a mail order shop, and opened a recording studio a short while later. Record stores, airlines, and galactical travel. At times, it seems the man can do no wrong and his net worth is ..oh hell, my calculator doesn’t have that many zeros. 

I had the chance to meet Sir Richard Branson a few years back at the Virgin Mobile FreeFest, a free music festival he throws at a venue near my home each year. The man was just like the legend. Funny, smart, thoughtful, arrogant, ever-smiling, and a real person—not some body guarded recluse isolated from the minions. (Although I am confident there was security trailing his every move)

“I enjoy every single minute of my life.” 

I have found this to be so true. If you are not enjoying what you do, you might as well give up. Find what you love, and do it.  I know I could make a heck of a lot more money and find some more widespread success in other ventures; but as cliché as it is, I love travel—and I am good at it. 

“You can’t be a good leader unless you generally like people. That is how you bring out the best in them.”

Branson practices this daily and it is a great tenet to follow. It is the rare individual that succeeds in a vacuum. Somewhere along the way, you will need help. When you genuinely like people, you can indeed bring out the best of the best. And a team assembled of the best is surely a winner! 

“I can honestly say that I have never gone into any business purely to make money. If that is the sole motive, then I believe you are better off doing nothing.”

OK, so we know that we never came into the travel industry to make gobs of money. The old joke in the airline industry (as Branson likely knows) says that to make a million in the airline industry, start with two million dollars.  Again, as cliché as it is, money cannot buy the things that matter most for people – wisdom, serenity, leadership, happiness.

If you enjoy your job, you’ll never have to work another day—someone else said it, not me; but it is the truth. While you might not be able to jump into your passion right away, find the good in your job—it’s there, just look for it. You may find your passion, or your passion might find you.

“Right now I’m just delighted to be alive and to have had a nice long bath.

Isn’t that the truth?  Considering the alternatives, being alive and thriving is at the top of the list.  But a nice long refreshing bath is not too bad either!

OK, so these quotes from Branson are not any had and fast tips for success in your travel business, but keeping them in mind should go a long way towards framing your outlook on business and life in general.

If you want to become a “fanboy” or a “fangirl” of Sir Richard Branson, give him a follow on Twitter at@richardbranson


April 01, 2013

I’m thrilled to announce that Virgin has created another world-first with the introduction of the technology required to produce the world’s first glass-bottomed plane. This technological innovation coincides with the start of Virgin Atlantic Airways’ first ever domestic service to Scotland.

In 1984 we started the wonderful airline that is Virgin Atlantic. I am incredibly proud of yet another aviation breakthrough which has been years in the making. I can’t wait to experience the first flight for myself with my family and other natural born explorers.

2012 was a year of celebrating what is brilliant about Great Britain and I’m excited that in 2013 we are continuing this uplifting spirit by developing an experience that will enable Little Red passengers to appreciate the beauty of the British landscape. And with an unrivalled view of Scotland I hope this gives Scottish tourism an even bigger boost.

We hope to trial the glass bottom technology with other Virgin airlines in time and have askedother Virgin companies to support this innovative trial and launch our new domestic Scottish route. This really is a team effort from all corners of Virgin.

By . Founder of Virgin Group


Image via

LONDON, England - Sir Richard Branson celebrates the opening of Mahali Mzuri, the latest addition to the Virgin Limited Edition portfolio, by participating in a traditional Maasai ceremony.

The ceremony, which comes 6 years after Richard originally became a recognised tribal Maasai Elder in 2007, took place on the plains near Mahali Mzuri and began with opening prayers. Along with eight elders, Richard blessed Mahali Mzuri with prayers, honey and a little beer! A ceremonial fire using traditional fire sticks and olive branches was placed onto the fire to produce the smoke, which drifted through the camp as a sign of blessing. This was followed by the local Maasai community singing and dancing around the fire before leading the crowd in a march back up to the plains where they enjoyed a blessing feast.

Sir Richard Branson commented: "It was an honour and so much fun to participate in the ceremony. It's a fantastic way to celebrate the official opening of Mahali Mzuri and I'm thrilled that so many of the local community have made it here today to observe and take part in what was a beautifully traditional and fitting way of launching our new safari camp."

"I've recently been pleased to add my voice to supporters of the tourism industry in Kenya and we see this opening as a symbol of our confidence in its long term future."

Joining Richard for this special opening ceremony were Kenyan President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and Cabinet Secretaries of Tourism and Transport & Infrastructure, Hon. Phyllis Kandie and Hon. Michael Kamau.

Hon. Phyllis Kandie said: "We are extremely delighted to welcome Mahali Mzuri into the staple of great tourism establishments in Kenya. This new camp is a testimony of how international investors like Sir Richard Branson continue to have faith in Kenya."

Mahali Mzuri is situated within the Olare Motorogi Conservancy in the Maasai Mara ecosystem of Kenya, about 240km due west of Nairobi. Mahali Mzuri consists of 12 sleeper tents and can cater for a maximum of 24 guests at any one time. Rates start from USD $590 per person per night (based on double occupancy) and are fully inclusive of all meals, drinks & daily game drives as well as unlimited access to the Olare Motorogi Conservancy.*

Mahali Mzuri is a joint partnership between Sir Richard Branson and the Gehlot family, who run the Intex Group of companies in Kenya. Members of the Gehlot family joined Sir Richard Branson for the opening ceremony.

Virgin Atlantic London to Toronto Service

Over $200 million in benefits to Toronto

Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Atlantic Airways has announced that the airline will launch nonstop scheduled services between London and Toronto from the summer of 2001. Speaking in Toronto, the Chairman said: "It's long been my ambition to fly to Toronto, and I am thrilled to be able to announce our plans to launch a daily service between London, Gatwick and Toronto from next summer. "London-Toronto is a hugely popular route and completes Virgin's presence on all top ten longhaul routes out of London. We estimate that the Virgin Atlantic service will provide an annual economic benefit to Toronto to of more than $200 million Canadian in increased jobs, trade and tourism.

I look forward to announcing some competitive fares in the New Year, but the biggest difference passengers on this route will notice is the superior quality of our product. All our passengers will enjoy their own seat back TV screen, with a choice of up to 41 channels of films, drama, sports and games. The business passenger will enjoy a range of innovations, including complimentary limousines at both ends of each journey, stand up bars in the Upper Class cabin and in-flight manicures and massages."

Last year 1.3 million passengers traveled between London and Toronto (262,000 of whom travelled to or from Gatwick) making Toronto the fourth biggest longhaul route out of London. A launch fare will be available from January 2001. Daily flights will operate between Gatwick and Toronto's Lester B. Person International Airport, using a Boeing 747 aircraft. This will be configured with 28 Upper Class seats, 326 Premium Economy and 358 in Economy.

Above Photo: Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Atlantic Airways, arrived in Toronto to launch a daily non-stop flight service between Toronto and London. While in the city, Sir Richard laced up his skates and joinerd the Etibicoke Dolphins girls'hockey teacm for his first try out at Canada's favourite sport. Photos by Michael Dubule.

There is a larger market for leisure passengers on the route, and Virgin Atlantic's sister company Virgin Holidays will be offering a full holiday program. Holiday options include Toronto as a city destination in its own right, as well as a starting point for coach tours and fly-drive holidays to other attractions such as Niagara Falls. Virgin Vacations will also be offering Canadian tourists a range of holiday packages from Toronto to London and the rest of the UK.

Sir Richard also commented on the Canadian aviation market: "Since its takeover of Canadian Airlines, Air Canada now holds a hugely dominant position in the Canadian aviation market, with around 80 per cent of domestic flights and the majority of scheduled services between Toronto and London. We are relying on regulations to protect the interests of customers by keeping a close watch on Air Canada's behavior, particularly in setting the rates for connecting fares onward from Toronto."

Finally the Chairman highlighted the potential Canada holds for other Virgin developments. " Virgin Atlantic is often the platform for other Virgin companies and I hope that today's announcement is the first of many from the Virgin Group. We have a successful Mega store in Vancouver and are looking to open more in Canada in the near future. We're also actively considering the potential for other new ventures in areas such as mobile telephony."

He also spoke of rail travel: "Virgin Rail in the UK has already developed a fantastic relationship with leading Canadian conglomerate Bombardier, having awarded the company its biggest European train contract with a $2 billion (Canadian) deal for the construction of 789 high speed trains and their maintenance until 2012. With this happy precedent, I'm sure our experience in operating this hugely important route will be a rewarding one."

For more information please contact the Virgin Atlantic Press Office at 011-44-1 293 747 373, or visit the Virgin Atlantic website:

London-based Virgin Atlantic is one Britain’s major international airlines with shareholders including the Virgin Group and Singapore Airlines. Using a fleet of Airbus and Boeing wide-body aircraft, Virgin Atlantic operates a network of international services to North America, the Caribbean, Asia, Africa and Australia from its hubs at London’s Heathrow and GatwickAirports. by Capa Aviation.