Virgin America And Virgin Galactic Launch Race For Space, Pilot Exchange
Airline's Elevate Loyalty Members Will Compete for a Seat on One of World's First Commercial Space Flights.
Mojave Air & Spaceport, California - July 28, 2008 - Virgin America, the California-based airline, and Virgin Galactic, the first commercial space-line, today announced the start of the "Race for Space," in which Virgin America Elevate loyalty program members can compete to fly their way to a seat on a sub-orbital space flight. The program is being unveiled today to celebrate the world premiere roll-out of the Virgin Galactic spaceship launch vehicle, the WhiteKnightTwo (WK2). The companies also announced their intent to institute a pilot exchange, under which select Virgin America pilots will enter Virgin Galactic's rigorous training program.
"Virgin-branded companies are known for being innovative and for thinking big, so we're honored to link an airline that is reinventing the domestic flying experience with the world's first space-line," said Virgin America President and CEO David Cush. "True to the Virgin spirit, our loyalty program, Elevate, is unlike any other U.S. frequent flier program and will offer unique rewards with no black-out dates. The Race for Space is a perfect example of the extraordinary opportunities members will be able to take advantage of."
Today, one of the newest additions to Virgin America's fleet - an Airbus A320 named My Other Ride is a Spaceship will bring aviation luminaries, Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson's Mother Eve Branson (by whom, WK2 will be christened), and Virgin Galactic's customers, from Los Angeles International Airport to the birthplace of the WK2 - Scaled Composites in Mojave, California. Upon touchdown, My Other Ride is a Spaceship will meet Branson for the first public roll-out of the WK2.
The companies will also announce the Race for Space, in which Elevate members will be able to compete for one seat on a Virgin Galactic sub-orbital space flight. Today, Elevate members can begin earning their way to the 10,000 Elevate points needed to enter the Race for Space. Over the course of the competition leading up to the Virgin Galactic launch (slated for 2010), members who reach 10,000 points will have the opportunity to sign-up and compete in a series of challenges - with one member ultimately earning a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
By October 1, 2008, Elevate members will be able to begin redeeming points for Virgin America flights on-line. One lucky Elevate member was selected to join the flight to the Mojave for the WK2 unveiling event.
The Virgin America pilots flying My Other Ride is a Spaceship are among the top candidates being considered for the Virgin Galactic exchange program. Still in pre-flight testing, the WK2 will enable commercial space travel for private individuals, science and payload. WK2 is the world's largest all carbon composite aircraft with a high-altitude lift capacity capable of launching SpaceShipTwo into sub-orbital space.
"My Other Ride is a Spaceship is one of the newest and most fuel efficient aircraft flying in the U.S., and when it touches down today it will share the runway with the next generation of government and commercial aerospace -- the WK2," said Will Whitehorn President of Virgin Galactic. "I couldn't be more proud that two Virgin-branded companies will link the cutting-edge present to the very future of commercial aviation."
Virgin America currently flies to seven cities with daily flights from: San Francisco (SFO) to Los Angeles (LAX), SFO to New York (JFK), SFO to San Diego (SAN), SFO to Washington (IAD), SFO to Las Vegas (LAS), SFO to Seattle (SEA), LAX to JFK, LAX to IAD, LAX to SEA and starting September 4, 2008, non-stop flights JFK to LAS.
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Virgin America: Abby Lunardini, (650) 533-7576/ firstname.lastname@example.org
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: About Virgin America: Launched in August 2007, Virgin America is a California-based airline that offers guests attractive fares and a host of innovative features aimed at reinventing air travel. Virgin America's base of operations is San Francisco International Airport's ultra-modern and convenient International Terminal. The airline's new Airbus A320-family aircraft offer interactive in-flight entertainment systems and power outlets for laptops and other electronic gear. In July 2008, Virgin America was named "Best Domestic Airline" in Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards. In Zagat's 2007 Global Airlines Survey, the airline was ranked #1 among U.S. carriers for quality in First/Business Class and #2 in Main Cabin. To learn more: www.virginamerica.com.
About Virgin America's Elevate Loyalty Program and the Race for Space: Virgin America is reinventing the domestic travel experience at every level, including through its first-of-its-kind loyalty program - Elevate. Unlike other domestic frequent flier programs, Elevate will be a full-service loyalty program with no black-out dates. Elevate has grown to over 430,000 members - with 1,300 new members joining every day. Starting with their very first flight, members will earn 5 points for every $1 spent on published base fares. By October 2008, members will be able to redeem a free trip for as few as 4,900 points or four roundtrips. The Race for Space will allow one lucky Elevate member to fly their way to a seat on one of the world's first sub-orbital space flights. For more on Elevate and the Race for Space:www.virginamerica.com/raceforspace.
About Virgin Galactic: Virgin Galactic was established by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group to undertake the challenge of developing commercial space tourism, with the ultimate goal of making space travel possible and affordable for all people. Virgin Galactic owns and operates privately-built spaceships based on the history-making SpaceShipOne craft. These spaceships will make affordable, sub-orbital space tourism possible for the first time. For more, including photos and video: www.virgingalactic.com/pressftp