Top 10 Budget Airlines
With a main hub in San Francisco (SFO), and secondary hub in Los Angeles (LAX), Virgin America offers flights to New York (JFK), Boston (BOS), Washington, D.C. (IAD), San Diego (SAN), Seattle (SEA), and Las Vegas (LAS), and one international route to Toronto (YYZ); flights to Orlando (MCO) from San Francisco and Los Angeles are set for takeoff in October 2010. Route Map
Aboard Virgin America (www.virginamerica.com), innovation, aesthetics, and comfort blend seamlessly for a flight that will make you feel like a VIP whether or not you splurge for premium seating. Its ambition to “bring great service back to the skies” has inspired a forward-thinking business strategy invested in style, entertainment, and relaxation, as well as the maintenance of attractively low fares. In-flight absinthe sales and a new frequent-flyer mile link with trendy hotel chain Joie de Vivre ups the cool quotient even more, but passengers need only turn on the TV to know that this is a different kind of affordable airline: The CW’s “Fly Girls” reality show (which aired in early 2010) chronicled the lives of five Virgin America flight attendants. Onboard, indigo and violet mood lighting changes throughout the flight, responding to the time of day to help passengers relax. The black leather seating is both comfortable and attractive, supporting passengers as they plug into the personal entertainment center embedded in every seatback. The perfect flight amenity, these touch screen interfaces rival any home entertainment center (and certainly other budget airlines' seatback entertainment): Expect live satellite television, 20 new pay-per-view blockbusters, more than 3,000 MP3s (plus radio and audiobooks), in-flight food ordering, gaming, and a chat function that enables seat-to-seat conversations.
Sample Fares (One-Way): Seattle–San Francisco $69; Boston–Los Angeles $149; and New York–Los Angeles $149. Additional taxes and fees apply.
2010 SMART LUXURY WINNER
The soft lighting, chipper service, and comfy leather seats of Virgin America are a great start, but the seat-back entertainment system really sets the relative newcomer apart. In addition to satellite TV, new movies, and meals on demand, passengers can now order everything from lip balm to sleeping pills with a poke of the finger. See more Smart Luxury Award winners.
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