Press Release

Virgin America unveils its Next Generation New SFO Home – Toasts Evolution of Flight With Virgin Galactic

By SpaceRef Editor
April 7, 2011
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Virgin America unveils its beautiful and sustainable new home at San Francisco International Airport’s (SFO) Terminal 2 (T2) today with a series of inaugural flights that celebrate the evolution of travel.

As the only California-based airline, Virgin America is an anchor tenant at SFO’s new T2, which offers a unique design that echoes the airline’s own focus on reinventing the typical domestic flying experience. Much like the airline that will call it home, the new T2 elevates the travel experience by offering the best in design, technology, food and sustainable practices. With over a half century of history, the 640,000-square foot T2 has been completely reinvented for the modern traveler by architecture and interior firm Gensler and aims to be the first LEED(R) Gold-certified airport terminal in the U.S. Virgin America’s additional investments in sustainable design for its T2 spaces and “Virgin Village” crew lounge are aimed at the highest possible LEED(R) Platinum-certified status.

To unveil its sleek and sustainable new home and celebrate the evolution of flight, Virgin America today teams up with sister company Virgin Galactic to welcome two historic first flights to T2 – in support of a good cause. Today, the airline also launches a “Fly into the Future” fare sale on flights across its growing network. Fares start from $59* (restrictions, taxes and fees apply). Tickets are on sale now at and by calling 1.877.FLY.VIRGIN (1.877.359.8474). ** Photos of the new T2 and today’s special flights are available at:

“As a new airline we’ve been able to use the latest in technology, design and sustainable practices to enhance the traveler experience, and we hope elevate the journey beyond just getting from Point A to Point B,” said David Cush, President and Chief Executive Officer of Virgin America. “We’re proud to unveil a new home that similarly reinvents the travel experience for the modern flyer – and that also reflects the innovative, forward-looking spirit of our San Francisco home.”

Virgin America is the only California-based airline and its decision to headquarter in the Bay Area has helped make SFO one of the nation’s few growing airports. As of April 14, 2011, Virgin America will occupy seven gates at the new T2; American Airlines will occupy six; and there will be one common-use gate. With outstanding service, custom-designed cabins and high-tech amenities, Virgin America has been winning over consumers and travel awards since its August 2007 launch – including capturing the “Best Domestic Airline” title in Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards and Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards for the past three years. Virgin America has created 1,900 jobs and welcomed more than 11 million guests since its launch. The airline continues to fuel significant expansion, with its employee base projected to grow by 500 additional teammates a year and its fleet projected to triple in size by 2019.

Known for its inventive design and sustainable best practices, Virgin America informed the T2 design process from its earliest stages. T2 offers features that mirror Virgin America’s own unique flight service, including a “Recompose” lounge that acts as a soothing oasis for flyers post-security, beautiful living-room like gate areas, the best in local and organic dining, elevated laptop work tables with outlets and WiFi and the airline’s distinctive cabin “moodlighting” featured at its T2 ticket counters and gates.

“Virgin is known around the world for product innovation that improves the customer experience. I am proud to see Virgin America grow into a new home that allows them to extend that unique Virgin experience from the aircraft to the airport,” said Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson. “Thanks to the vision of SFO and Gensler, T2 represents the evolution of the airport guest experience and serves as a model for sustainable design. Just as Virgin America now has guests who say ‘I wish my flight was longer,’ T2 is a place travelers will actually enjoy visiting and spending time in.”

Guests onboard Virgin America’s Airbus A320 “My Other Ride is a Spaceship” will make aviation history today as both the first arriving T2 travelers and the first to fly and land alongside Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo as they make their inaugural landing at an international airport. Flight guests, including Sir Richard Branson and space pioneer Buzz Aldrin, will get a bird’s eye view of the future of flight as they meet up with the world’s first commercial spaceline over the California coast and proceed to touch down on parallel runways at SFO. Guests include supporters of “Galactic Unite,” a Virgin Unite (Virgin Group’s nonprofit foundation) initiative that aims to inspire students to seek answers to global challenges through science, engineering, math and business entrepreneurship education. Virgin pilots and engineers serve as mentors in the program, which is initially aimed at K-12 youth in New Mexico and California. Participating students from KIPP Bay Area and KIPP Academy of Hope in LA as well as participants in the Student Launch program in New Mexico join today’s events. For more:

“Virgin America has the most advanced and carbon-efficient commercial fleet in the U.S. and when it touches down today at its new home it will share the runway with the future of commercial aerospace – SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo,” said George Whitesides, President and Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Galactic. “We’re proud that two Virgin-branded companies can link the cutting-edge present to the future of commercial aviation. It is also fitting that today’s flights are helping to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and aviators.”

Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) represents a giant leap forward in aerospace design and will enable safe and commercially-viable access to space for private individuals and academic researchers. The world’s largest all carbon composite aviation vehicle and the most fuel efficient aircraft of its size, WK2 can perform high and zero g maneuvers and possesses the high-altitude heavy-lift capability to air-release the world’s first commercial manned spaceship – SpaceShipTwo – on its journey into sub-orbital space. SpaceShipTwo is a rocket-powered space plane, which is intended to air-launch via a groundbreaking feather re-entry system. For more on the future of commercial space travel and the spaceships:

“Today, San Francisco unveils the most innovative, environmentally sustainable domestic airport in the country. T2 is an economic engine that has created and will continue to create jobs and bolster our State’s economy while being a responsible environmental steward of our natural resources,” said Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. “It is fitting that Virgin America – the only California-based airline and one known for its inventive design and fuel-efficient fleet, will help unveil the new T2. Since its launch, Virgin America has created thousands of jobs, lowered fares and has helped spur SFO’s growth.” Lieutenant Governor Newsom joined Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson onboard the first Virgin America flight to T2 today.

Upon landing, T2’s first flight guests will enjoy the first finished tour of the new terminal. Virgin America is known for its modern and stylish design, including its signature cabin moodlighting (which transitions based on outside light and is intended to soothe and relax guests and even gradually awaken them on red eye flights) and white kiosk check-in tables and ticket/gate counters with a concierge desk look and feel. T2 offers living room-like gate spaces, imaginative lighting and world-class art installations. In line with the airline’s touch-screen entertainment, food on-demand, power outlets and fleetwide WiFi, T2 offers high-tech amenities like free WiFi and elevated laptop work stations with power. Similar to Virgin America’s own in-flight menus (which were named best in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure), T2 offers the best in local and organic dining. Lundberg Design additionally collaborated with Virgin America on its teammate lounge, baggage offices and other T2 areas, which are designed to achieve the highest possible LEED(R) Platinum-certified status. Notable design features and amenities within T2:

Similar to Virgin America’s lighting, seating and design, T2’s “Recompose” area acts as a stress-reducing oasis post-security. Virgin America’s T2 gates are designed as open, beautiful living room-like spaces in view of dining areas. Virgin America T2 spaces feature mood-lit ticket counters and gates that model the airline’s distinctive cabin moodlighting. Virgin America’s T2 counters offer a sleek, user-friendly and modern aesthetic, with low-profiles that remove barriers between agent and guest and white kiosk check-in tables with touch-screen panels and a concierge desk look-and-feel. In line with Virgin America’s own award-winning food, T2 features Slow Food(R) concessions with a focus on locally-produced menus – including venues from chefs Cat Cora and Tyler Florence and California favorites like Pinkberry. Massive art installations are featured throughout the terminal – even in the baggage claim area. Laptop work-tables and plug-in stations, elevated work counters and free WiFi throughout. Interactive children’s play area.

T2’s sustainable build and design:

T2 aims to be the first LEED(R) Gold-certified airport terminal in the U.S. Design elements include the vast utilization of natural light, modern ventilation systems that require 20% less energy and skylights and clerestories which bring daylight into the space and significantly reduce electricity usage. ‘Hydration Stations’ allow flyers to fill reusable water bottles past security, reducing volume of waste. The first airport dining program in the country to recruit Slow Food(R) vendors, T2 will feature organic food vendors and require use of compostable utensils/containers. Contractors recycled 90% of construction debris from the project. SFO requires ongoing source separation of all recyclable solid waste to enable the attainment of 90% recycling by 2020. Preferential parking for hybrid cars. With the airline’s additional investment in sustainable design, Virgin America’s T2 office spaces and “Virgin Village” crew lounge are designed to achieve the highest possible LEED(R) Platinum-certification. Below are the additional steps the airline has taken:

o Use of “Greenguard” certified woods and USGS-approved furniture sourcing.
o Lighting is 35% more efficient than California Energy Codes, with night/day motion sensors.
o Energy efficient heating, cooling and ventilation with occupancy sensors in Virgin America rooms.
o All computers and office equipment are 100% EnergyStar certified.
o Green building materials include high-recycled content, locally-manufactured case goods and other products, particle board made from agricultural waste and wood certified to standards of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
o Use of low-emitting VOC paints, coatings and building products.
o Air filtered by the top-quality filtration system in the base building.

Virgin America’s Airbus A320 Family aircraft feature custom-designed seating, mood-lit cabins, outlets, fleetwide WiFi and touch-screen entertainment platforms with 30 films, live TV, Google Maps, videogames and an on-demand menu – so flyers can order a meal from their seat any time in-flight. The carrier’s new fleet is up to 25% more fuel and carbon efficient than the average flying domestically.

# # # Media Contact: Abby Lunardini (650) 533-7576 /

For photos of Virgin America, today’s flights and its new finished T2 spaces:

For Virgin America’s T2 Fact Sheet:

For broadcast quality video of Virgin America aircraft and cabins:

EDITORS NOTE: Virgin America is a U.S. owned, controlled and operated airline. It is an entirely separate company from Virgin Atlantic. Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is a minority share investor in Virgin America.

About Virgin America: Headquartered in California, Virgin America offers guests attractive fares and a host of innovative features aimed at reinventing air travel. Virgin America is a U.S. owned and operated airline that has created 1,900 jobs and welcomed more than 11 million guests since its August 2007 launch. In January 2011, Virgin America announced plans to triple its fleet size by 2019 with an order for 60 new Airbus A320 Family aircraft – including the first order for the new eco-efficient Airbus A320neo. The airline’s current base of operations is SFO’s International Terminal. On April 14, 2011, the airline will grow to become an anchor tenant at SFO’s new Terminal 2. Virgin America flies to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Cabos, Cancun and Chicago (as of May 25, 2011).

About Virgin Galactic: Virgin Galactic is on track to be the world’s first commercial spaceline. The new Spaceship (VSS Enterprise) and Mothership (VMS Eve) are both being developed for Sir Richard Branson ‘s Virgin Galactic by Mojave-based Scaled Composites. Founded by Burt Rutan, Scaled developed SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 claimed the $10m Ansari X prize as the world’s first privately developed manned spacecraft. Virgin Galactic’s new vehicles share much of the same basic design but are being built to carry six customers on sub-orbital space flights, allowing an out-of-the-seat zero gravity experience and offering astounding views of the planet from the black sky of space. The VSS Enterprise test flight program will continue through 2011, prior to commercial operations which will be based at Virgin Galactic’s future headquarters at Spaceport America in New Mexico . To read and see more from and about Virgin Galactic got to

Follow Virgin Galactic on Twitter and Facebook

*Terms and Conditions: All Main Cabin fares are one-way, based on travel originating from the U.S, and require a 14-day advance purchase. Tickets must be purchased by 11:59pm PDT Friday, April 8, 2011. Travel must occur between April 20, 2011 and June 8, 2011 or August 24, 2011 and October 27, 2011. Service to/from Chicago (ORD) begins May 25, 2011. Blackout dates are May 27, May 31, September 2, and September 5, 2011. For domestic U.S. travel, lowest sale fares are only available for travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays. Higher sale fares are available for travel on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Nonstop Los Angeles-Cancun service does not operate on Monday and Thursday. Nonstop San Francisco-Cancun service operates on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. Fares do not include Passenger Facility Charges of up to $9 each way, a September 11th Security Fee of up to $5 each way and a Federal Segment Tax of $3.70 per domestic segment. A segment is a takeoff and landing. For service to/from Mexico, fares do not include the U.S. Immigration User Fee of $7, the U.S. APHIS fee of $5, the U.S. International Arrival/Departure tax of $16.30 each way and additional taxes/fees of up to $60, including: Mexico International Departure Tax and Mexico Tourism Tax. Tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable. Seats are limited, subject to availability, and may not be available on all flights. Flights may not operate daily. Changes or cancellations can be made for a $75 fee if changes are made on Virgin America’s website ( or a $100 fee through all other channels, including the call center and at the airport, plus any increase in fare, if applicable. Changes or cancellations of a booking made with Elevate Points will be subject to a $75 redeposit fee. Guests who no-show without a change or cancel 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 one (1) piece of checked baggage up to 70 pounds for $25 for each ticketed guest traveling within the U.S. and for free of charge for each ticketed guest traveling to/from Mexico. The fee per guest for each additional checked bag up to 50 pounds from the second (2) to the tenth (10) 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:

SpaceRef staff editor.