Virgin America Named Travel and Leisure's World's Best U.S. Airline for Food Menu

New Airline Takes Top Honors as Best Domestic Airline for Food in Annual World’s Best Awards

San Francisco – August 11, 2009 –Virgin America, the California-based airline that is reinventing domestic air travel, today took the top honors as “Best Domestic Airline for Food” in the prestigious Travel + Leisure Annual World’s Best Awards readers’ survey. Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards highlight the results of an annual, impartial survey that allows Travel + Leisure readers to share their opinions of their favorite travel experiences.* For the first time this year, the survey results include reviews of key service categories which will be highlighted in the magazine’s September issue. Virgin America’s industry-leading in-flight dining experience will be profiled in Travel + Leisure’s first annual food and travel issue in September.

“We’re honored to receive this feedback from Travel + Leisure readers – those who fly the most and expect the very best,” said Virgin America Senior Vice President of People and In-flight Frances Fiorillo. “Virgin America’s goal is to bring travelers more choices in-flight. In keeping with our California roots, our fresh, seasonal meal items and snacks offer guests convenient, tasty and reasonably priced options they can order any time right from their seatback – without having to worry about grabbing something ahead of time.”

With award-winning service and a host of innovative amenities, Virgin America has captured a list of travel industry best-in-class awards since launching service in August 2007 including, Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Domestic Airline Award in 2008 and 2009. Virgin America is also the only airline in the U.S. with a touch-screen seatback menu that allows guests to order what they want, when they want it during a flight. Virgin America offers one of the largest selections of fresh menu items, with a focus on lighter, more health-focused choices.

Virgin America’s in-flight dining is featured in Travel + Leisure’s first annual food and travel issue in September and is available on newsstands on August 28. The special issue will contain a list of the top five World’s Best Airlines for Food, both domestic and international. It will be posted on Travel + Leisure’s Web site.

“Our goal as a new carrier is to reinvent the flying experience for the better by listening to what our guests want, so we’re constantly seeking real-time feedback, whether through the Red seatback screens or now via in-flight WiFi,” added Fiorillo. “We’ve even implemented suggestions received about our menu from some of our very first guests and their feedback will continue to be an essential ingredient in creating the best customer experience in the U.S. skies.”

Virgin America’s market research and feedback received from guests via Red™, the airline’s in-flight entertainment system, has shown that guests want fresh, high-quality food options – and that travelers are seeking out convenient buy-onboard options over having to purchase food on the go at the airport – usually at a higher price.

Main Cabin menu options available for purchase at the touch of a button via Red’s on-demand ordering system include (prices range between $7 - $10 for meals in Main Cabin, and options are complimentary in Main Cabin Select):

  • Fruit and Cheese: Hand-cut imported brie, pepper Monterey Jack and aged cheddar paired with clusters of sweet red seedless grapes, sun-dried cranberries, pecans and crisp multigrain crackers.
  • Hummus and Pita Chips: A healthy selection of Mediterranean hummus and baba ganoush served with crisp fresh carrot batons, broccoli and cauliflower florets, sweet red bell pepper, cucumbers, red radish, sugar snap peas and a stuffed grape leaf, served with Stacy’s Pita Chips.
  • Wild Berry Parfait: A light yogurt parfait layered with vanilla yogurt, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, served with a crunchy chocolate granola.
  • Southwestern Chicken hand Roll: Zesty roasted red pepper tortilla rolled around strips of grilled chicken, green leaf lettuce, chipotle cream cheese spread, fire roasted corn and black beans, and a colorful trio of red, yellow and green bell peppers. Served with a side salad of orzo pasta with Southwestern vegetables and red pepper pesto and a Toblerone chocolate for dessert.
  • Black and Blue Steak Sandwich: Basil and cheese focaccia loaded with blackened flat iron steak, gorgonzola cheese spread, balsamic glazed onions, arugula, sliced Roma tomatoes and fresh red and yellow roasted tomatoes. Served with a Toblerone chocolate for dessert.
  • Turkey Florentine Hand Roll: Spinach tortilla wrapped around hand shaved turkey breast, herb cream cheese spread, feta cheese, fresh baby spinach, romaine leaf lettuce, sliced artichoke bottoms, yellow bell pepper strips, Roma tomato, and Belgian endive. Served with a side salad of gemelli pasta with Italian vegetables, sun dried tomatoes and creamy basil pesto, with a Toblerone chocolate for dessert.
  • Muffaletta Sandwich: Hearty Focaccia bread stuffed with shaved honey ham, Genoa salami, shaved turkey, Swiss and provolone cheese, spicy olive salad, green leaf lettuce, and sliced tomatoes, paired with Italian dressing on the side, and a Toblerone chocolate for dessert.
  • Thai Vegetable Salad: Refreshing Asian-style salad of romaine lettuce, Napa cabbage, julienne carrots, curly daikon radish, sliced cucumber, green onion, julienne tomato, red and yellow bell pepper strips, cilantro, mint, and chopped cashews. Served with sesame ginger vinaigrette dressing on the side and a Toblerone chocolate for dessert.

In addition to Virgin America’s food menu, beverages and cocktails are also available for purchase. Guests can always order drinks, like Illy iced cappuccinos, eco-friendly cocktails made with VeeV Açaí Spirit and Le Tourment Vert “Mile High Cocktails” from their seatback, and watch as they are mixed on-demand.

Virgin America offers over 100 flights a day and flies to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego, Boston, Orange County and as of Nov. 18, 2009 – Fort Lauderdale. The airline offers daily flights from: SFO to LAX, SFO to JFK, SFO to SAN, SFO to IAD, SFO to LAS, LAX to JFK, LAX to IAD, SFO to SEA, SEA to LAX, JFK to LAS, BOS to LAX, BOS to SFO, SFO to SNA and starting November 18, 2009 – SFO to FLL and LAX to FLL. Virgin America has flown more than 4.5 million guests since its inaugural flights in August 2007 and now counts over 925,000 Elevate loyalty program members.

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Media Contact: Abby Lunardini (650) 533-7576 / abby.lunardini@virginamerica.com
Travel + Leisure, Liz Marsh (212) 382-5684/ elizabeth.c.marsh@aexp.com; Rachael Chappa (212) 642-1972/rachael.e.chappa@aexp.com

EDITORS NOTE: Virgin America is a U.S. controlled and operated airline and 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 and launched in August 2007, Virgin America is one of the fastest growing start-up U.S. airlines of all time and currently employs over 1400 people. Virgin America offers guests attractive fares and a host of innovative features aimed at reinventing air travel. The airline’s base of operations is San Francisco International Airport’s ultra-modern International Terminal. The airline’s new aircraft offer interactive in-flight entertainment systems and power outlets near every seat for electronic gear. Virgin America now offers in-flight internet service on every flight and hosts the largest in-flight entertainment library in the domestic skies via its touch-screen Red™ seatback system. In addition to a 25-film library including Oscar winners, foreign language films and Hollywood blockbusters, Red features live TV, videogames, seat-to-seat chat, 3,000 MP3s, music videos, interactive Google maps and more. In just over a year flying, Virgin America was named “Best Domestic Airline” in the Condé Nast Traveler 2008 Readers’ Choice Awards and “Best Domestic Airline” in Travel + Leisure 2008 World’s Best Awards. For more: www.virginamerica.com

About Travel + Leisure: Travel + Leisure and its website www.travelandleisure.com propel readers to travel now, travel smarter, and travel often. With an eye for the authentic, the innovative, and the irresistible, T+L fuses expert reporting on style, culture, food, and design with stunning photography to transport its readers to the places—and the experiences—that matter most. The long-standing authority in its field, Travel + Leisure has the largest, most affluent audience of any travel magazine and is an indispensable read for today’s global citizen. Travel + Leisure has a network of international editions, including Travel + Leisure Mexico, Travel + Leisure Australia/New Zealand, Travel + Leisure Turkey, Travel + Leisure China, Travel + Leisure South Asia, and Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia.

*As voted on by Travel + Leisure readers in the 2009 World’s Best Awards Survey. Full survey methodology available at www.travelandleisure.com/worldsbest/2009/.

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