SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Virgin America announces today that it is requesting U.S. Department of Transportation approval to place the Virgin Australia code on Virgin America services from Los Angeles to Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Philadelphia, Portland, Seattle and Washington D.C. Once approved, this will be the first-ever codeshare agreement for the California-based carrier, building on a 2009 interline agreement with Virgin Australia that paved the way for a more seamless travel experience for guests flying between Australia and the U.S. This will offer seamless booking on a single ticket for guests traveling from Australia to multiple destinations in the U.S. Virgin America’s recent move to a new reservations system allowed the carrier to initiate this first codeshare alliance as well as significantly expand its interline partnerships in recent months.
“We believe this partnership will be welcomed by travelers on both sides of the Pacific, especially our most loyal guests – those who seek out the upscale service and amenities that the Virgin branded carriers are known for around the world,” said Diana Walke, Virgin America’s Vice President of Planning and Sales. “With touch-screen entertainment, an international grade First Class, a premium Main Cabin Select product and an award-winning Main Cabin – our product offerings are uniquely matched to Virgin Australia. With this new partnership, U.S.-Australia travelers will be assured best-in-class guest service in three well-aligned classes of service – throughout their journey.”
Earlier this year, Virgin America announced an enhancement to its Elevate® frequent flyer program that allows members to earn and redeem points across the combined route network of the Virgin family of carriers. And last month, all three award-winning Virgin airlines – including Virgin Atlantic – joined forces for the first time ever to launch a joint entertainment, digital and out-of-home “Virgin Skies” advertising campaign to convey the unique Virgin in-flight experience in the Los Angeles market and mark the airlines’ global frequent flyer partnership. The centerpiece of the campaign includes the creation of an independent short film shot entirely on three commercial Virgin flights while at 35,000 feet.
“The United States is a very important market for Australia; it is the third most popular international destination for Australian visitors and our fourth biggest source of overseas visitors to Australia,” said Virgin Australia Group Executive of Alliances, Network and Yield Merren McArthur. “Today’s announcement means Virgin Australia guests can connect seamlessly to key leisure and business hubs and earn frequent flyer points and status credits in the process.”
The new codeshare agreement will not change the airlines’ existing interline agreement, through which guests already enjoy a seamless “Virgin” experience at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Under the codeshare, guests will check-in once and receive all their boarding passes. Domestic to international connections at LAX are within the same terminal (Terminal 3), so guests traveling from the U.S. to Australia do not have to re-clear security. Both airlines will transfer baggage between connecting flights and to guests’ final destinations – with customs clearance of guests and bags still required for travelers coming from Australia to the U.S.
With a new fleet that offers next generation entertainment, in-flight WiFi and three beautifully designed classes of service, Virgin America has swept the reader-based travel awards every year since its 2007 launch, including “Best U.S. Airline” in Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards and Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards. In addition to a Main Cabin that offers 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 offers 38-inches of pitch, free food and cocktails, an all-access pass to media, dedicated overhead bins and priority check-in/boarding. As one of the few growing U.S. airlines, the carrier has expanded to 18 destinations, a fleet of 52 aircraft (as of this month) and over 2,600 teammates since its launch nearly five years ago. Virgin America flies to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C. (IAD), Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Cabos, Cancun, Chicago, Puerto Vallarta, Palm Springs, Philadelphia, Portland and Washington D.C.’s Reagan National (DCA) (as of August 14, 2012).