A new exhibition at San Francisco airport presents a tribute to the popular SFO-based airline Virgin America with a presentation of a wide array of objects that chronicle its short but vibrant history.
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 began operating in 2007 and 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 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.
Throughout the period of its operations, the airline earned a multitude of industry and consumer awards including Top Domestic Airline for ten consecutive years..
Although many were saddened to see Virgin America cease operating in 2018 following its acquisition by Alaska Airlines, 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. Many of these donated objects appear in this exhibition, including flight and ground crew uniforms and accessories, inflight service items, promotional material, seats, photographs, and ephemera.
VX Forever: The Legacy of Virgin America can be viewed pre-security in the Aviation Museum and Library in the International Terminal of San Francisco International Airport. This exhibition is on display for all airport visitors from December 2, 2023 to November 17, 2024. There is no charge to view the exhibition.