VX Forever The Legacy of Virgin America
The Legacy of Virgin America
Virgin America was founded in 2004 by the Virgin Group to offer a more pleasurable domestic airline flying experience to the traveling public. Headquartered in nearby Burlingame, California, the carrier built a large and particularly loyal customer base through a unique blend of style, equipment, and services. These included leather seats, cabin mood lighting, premium entertainment systems with a broad range of audiovisual programming, full-service meals, and friendly, enthusiastic flight and ground crews dressed in hip, casual uniforms. The airline primarily focused on offering superior economy services while also providing competitive first-class amenities. The carrier’s flight crews were known for fostering a fun, relaxed, and enjoyable cabin atmosphere that was reminiscent of earlier California carriers, such as PSA (Pacific Southwest Airlines) and Hughes Airwest.
Identified by the IATA (International Air Transport Association) code VX, Virgin America commenced operations in 2007 with branding licensed from Sir Richard Branson’s UK-based Virgin Group. With SFO (San Francisco International Airport) serving as its airport home base, the carrier operated a fleet of narrow-body, medium-to-long-range Airbus airliners on routes across the U.S. with a focus on major coastal cities, as well as Dallas, Las Vegas, Denver, Chicago, and destinations in Hawai’i and Mexico. At its peak, Virgin America flew to thirty-one destinations. Throughout the period of its operations, the airline earned a multitude of industry and consumer awards including the Condé Nast Readers' Choice Award and Travel + Leisure Top Domestic Airline for ten consecutive years.
In 2018, after eleven years of service, the airline ceased operations following its acquisition by Alaska Airlines. Many faithful customers were saddened to see Virgin America go, yet the airline lives on within the collections of SFO Museum. Thanks to the numerous donations by former customers, Virgin America employees, and Alaska Airlines, the legacy of Virgin America will be preserved for future generations to research, explore, and celebrate. Moreover, many of Virgin America’s innovations continue with Alaska Airlines and other carriers, reflecting their profound influence on the industry. This exhibition presents a tribute to this popular San Francisco Bay Area-based airline with an array of objects, including flight and ground crew uniforms and accessories, inflight service items, promotional material, equipment, photographs, and ephemera.
Learn more! Download the VX Forever: The Legacy of Virgin America education program here.
Virgin America promotional sign (detail) c. 2017
Collection of SFO Museum
Gift of Art Huggard
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