Virgin America Ranks No. 1 in Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards

New Airline Takes Top Honors as Best Domestic Airline for Second Year Running in Annual World’s Best Awards

San Francisco – July 10, 2009 – Virgin America, the California-based airline that is reinventing domestic air travel, today took the top honors for the second year running as “Best Domestic Airline” 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.* In the annual survey, airlines are rated independently by Travel + Leisure readers in several categories, including: cabin comfort, food, in-flight service, customer service, and value.

“We’re honored to receive the highest marks for the second consecutive year from Travel + Leisure’s readers – those who fly the most and expect the very best in service, comfort and design,” said Virgin America President and Chief Executive Officer David Cush. “There are many surveys that attempt to rank airline quality that are paid and do not reflect real guest reviews or that exclude smaller carriers. Hearing directly from the readers of a respected travel source that we’re not only making the grade – but leading the industry is hugely important for us as a start-up. This is a key milestone in our second year flying and we’re grateful for the outstanding contributions of our teammates and for each of the 4.5 million guests who have flown with us to date.”

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. Virgin America’s rigorous in-flight and airport staff training programs include a special focus on delivering concierge-like guest care. The airline offers unrivalled value with low fares and high-tech features like touch-screen seatback entertainment, power outlets near every seat, mood-lighting and custom-designed leather seating with a deeper, more comfortable pitch. In May, Virgin America became the first and only airline to offer guests in-flight internet on every flight. 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 options in keeping with the airline’s California roots.

The complete Travel + Leisure 2009 results, including the Top 100 Hotels Overall and Top 10 Cities Overall, are featured on now and in Travel + Leisure’s August issue, available on newsstands July 24. The Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards winners for 2009 will be honored in New York City on July 21 at an awards event at the Cooper Square Hotel.

“Our goal as a new carrier is to reinvent the flying experience for the better by listening to what travelers want, so we’re constantly seeking real-time feedback, whether through the Red seatback screens or now via in-flight WiFi,” added Cush. “We’ve even implemented suggestions received 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 offers over 100 flights a day and flies to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego, Boston and Orange County. 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 and SFO to SNA. 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 /
Travel + Leisure, Liz Marsh (212) 382-5684/; Jill S. Davison (212) 382-5679/

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:

About Travel + Leisure:  Travel + Leisure and its website 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.

*About the Survey:  A questionnaire developed by the editors of Travel + Leisure, in association with Harris Interactive, an independent research firm, was made available to Travel + Leisure readers at from January 15, 2009, to March 29, 2009. In the February and March 2009 issues of Travel + Leisure, readers were invited to participate. A select group of readers also received invitations via e-mail. Respondents were permitted to complete the survey only once. To protect the integrity of the data, after March 29, 2009, respondents were screened by Travel + Leisure and responses from any identified travel-industry professionals who completed the survey were eliminated from the final tally by Harris Interactive. Only candidates that received a required minimum number of responses were eligible for inclusion. was maintained, monitored, and kept secure by Travel + Leisure, while the survey website, where respondents were redirected, was maintained by Harris Interactive, which collected and tabulated the responses and kept them confidential. The scores are indexed averages of responses concerning applicable characteristics. Respondents were asked to rate hotels, islands, destination spas, and car rental agencies on five characteristics; cities, cruise lines, and tour operators/safari outfitters on six characteristics; and hotel spas and airlines on four characteristics (see below). In the hotel, cruise line/cruise ship, and airline categories, respondents could also rate additional optional characteristics; these ratings were not included in the final score. For each characteristic, respondents were asked to rate a candidate on a scale of 1 to 5, where “1” means poor and “5” means excellent. Required component ratings were then averaged, creating an overall score. A minimum number of responses was necessary for a candidate to be eligible for inclusion in the World’s Best Awards listings. Some companies were rated in both the cruise lines and tour operators/safari outfitters categories; in these cases, they have different scores for each category. These were the categories and characteristics:

  • For hotels: rooms/facilities, location, service, restaurants/food, value. Optional: for business, for families.
  • Hotel types were determined using the number of rooms and suites. Inns have fewer than 40 rooms; Resorts have 40 rooms or more. Small City Hotels have fewer than 100 rooms; Large City Hotels have 100 rooms or more. In some regions, inns and resorts and large and small city hotels were grouped together.
  • For destination spas: accommodations/ambience, treatments, service, food, value.
  • For hotel spas: ambience, treatments, service, value.
  • For cities: sights, culture/arts, restaurants/food, people, shopping, value.
  • For islands: natural attractions, activities/sights, restaurants/food, people, value.
  • For cruise lines/cruise ships: cabins, food, service, itineraries/destinations, activities, value. Optional: for families. Small-ship cruise lines carry 600 passengers or fewer.
  • For tour operators and safari outfitters: staff/guides, itineraries/destinations, activities, accommodations, food, value.
  • For airlines: cabin comfort, in-flight service, customer service, value. Optional: food.
  • For car rental agencies: vehicle selection, vehicle availability, car-rental location, service, value.
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