Virgin America expands with service to Philadelphia

Welcome to the City of Brotherly Love Virgin America. The California-based airline has announced that starting April 4, 2012, they will offer three daily nonstop flights from Philadelphia (PHL) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and two daily nonstop flights from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) starting April 10, 2012.

Connecting flights will also be available from PHL to Virgin America’s San Diego, Seattle and Las Vegas destinations. “This is a great development for the entire Philadelphia region, including northern Delaware, southern New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “New airline service not only lowers fares for travelers, but it is also a major economic driver – stimulating business travel, tourism and local job growth. Virgin America’s new flights also validate the strong and growing business travel link between our region’s innovation-based sectors and those on the West Coast.”

At a time when most airlines are cutting capacity, Virgin America will bring much needed nonstop competition from California’s largest airports to PHL. Currently, only legacy carriers serve the West Coast-PHL routes nonstop. When entering markets that offer little low-fare competition, Virgin America has historically seen fares drop by up to one-third. In addition, 50% of travelers flying from PHL to the Los Angeles market now use connecting flights and 45% of those traveling from PHL to the San Francisco Bay Area are connecting passengers.

The PHL announcement was first shared with the carrier’s social media fans earlier today, via a video that spotted the mysterious ‘Greenman’ from the FX television show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” near a Virgin America aircraft.
To kick off the fares, the airline is offering a “The City of Brotherly Love: Just Got Lovelier” sale, with PHL-LAX fares from $129 and PHL-SFO fares from $149 each way.

24 Hour Road Trip: Philadelphia Inside Out

Once, I got the bright idea that we should take a walking tour of Cleveland, Ohio. I had read that Cleveland is one of the top cities for walking in the U.S. “Let’s see why!” I was enthusiastic when we put our then 1 1/2 year-old in the jogging stoller and told our then 10 year-old to tie up her sneakers for our stroll from Tower City to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and back to Tower City. Six and a half hours later, we dragged ourselves back to the car. The day wasn’t exactly a failure, but it wasn’t the grand experience I had imagined.

This tour of Philadelphia called “24 Hour Road Trip: Philadelphia Inside Out” looks like it offers the solution that our walking tour of Cleveland missed–a focus and a sense of humor. This Saturday, August 18, three tour guides extraordinaire who have experience with city walkabouts will be leading people on a 24 hour excursion of the City of Brotherly Love. Kurt Braunohler, a comedian with loads of TV face time, Scott Gabriel Knowles, a professor at Drexel University who knows bunches about urban life, and Calvin Johnson, also a well-versed urbanite, have teamed up before. Here’s the link to their bios. They look like three guys who would be fun to hang out with.

Instead of just telling you about Philadelphia, their aim is to semi-guide people through their own experiences of the city. Along the way, the group will chronicle what is discovered as they move from place to place interacting with Philadelphia and those who they come across. The group’s discoveries will be shared with others via the Internet. If this gang goes to Cleveland, I’m in. I’d like to have a chat with them about psychogeography, one of the words they use to describe the essence of their 24 hour trip. [Thanks to Marilyn Terrell, our National Geographic Traveler tipster for the heads up about this tour.]