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Virgin America touched down in New Jersey

Tatiana Rokou - 11 April 2013, 12:13

Airline celebrates bringing new jobs, lower fares and much-needed 'Fly Like a Boss' competition to the Garden State. Only U.S. airline serving Newark to offer WiFi, power outlets and touch-screen entertainment on every flight.

SAN FRANCISCO - Virgin America 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. New Jersey leaders and Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson helped 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 also joined 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."

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."

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.

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.

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