How Virgin America does “green” – in a big way

It isn’t easy being eco friendly as an airline. The basic principle of what you do involves something that is relatively unfriendly to the planet. That said, when you start an airline from the ground up (like Virgin America had to do), there are steps you can take to become environmentally friendly.

Here are some of the measures Virgin America put in place to become one of the most environmentally friendly airlines in the world:

The airline operates a brand new fleet of aircraft that operate up to 25% more efficiently than other domestic fleets. During ground taxiing, their aircraft use a single engine.

In January 2009, Virgin America became the first airline in the U.S. to allow customers to purchase carbon offsets through These offsets can be purchased through RED, their award winning in-flight entertainment system. The airline also offsets the carbon footprint of their headquarters through sourced projects in California. All their measures, and a comprehensive overview of exact emissions are published yearly in their Annual Climate Report.

Virgin America is affiliated with the Virgin Group, who are investing all their transport related profits in renewable fuels research. Last year, a Virgin Atlantic jet took a test flight powered by a coconut bio-fuel blend.

Of course, at the end of the day, they still operate an airline, and until planes burn non polluting fuels, there will always be emissions, but the measures taken by Virgin America are far more impacting than any other airline.

Want to win tickets on a Virgin America flight? Head on over to our 5th anniversary giveaway for your chance to win two tickets to anywhere Virgin America flies!

And the award for best domestic airline food in the world goes to… Virgin America!

Travel + Leisure’s September 2009 issue is completely dedicated to food and travel. In that edition, the results of an in-flight food survey will be revealed, crowning the food on Virgin America as the best domestic airline food in the world.

This is a pretty impressive prize to win, especially for such a young airline. Then again, when you are up against some of the legacy carriers in the US, it isn’t that hard to serve an impressive dish – the competition isn’t exactly stiff. Anyone who has been served a “breakfast sandwich” on one of the big 5 will know what I mean.

Food on Virgin America won not only because of the quality and assortment, but also because of the ease of ordering. Unlike some airlines, where you either need to wait for a flight attendant to push their cart down the aisle, Virgin America allows passengers to order what they want, when they want, through their Red in-flight entertainment system.

After the jump, a list of the food for sale on Virgin America. These menu options cost between $7 and $10 in the Main Cabin, and are complimentary in Main Cabin Select. One word of warning though – don’t read the menu if you are feeling hungry, cause it is a very appetizing list!

Fruit and Cheese
: Hand-cut imported brie, pepper Monterey Jack and aged cheddar paired with clusters of sweet red seedless grapes, sun-dried cranberries, pecans and crisp multigrain crackers.

Hummus and Pita Chips: A healthy selection of Mediterranean hummus and baba ganoush served with crisp fresh carrot batons, broccoli and cauliflower florets, sweet red bell pepper, cucumbers, red radish, sugar snap peas and a stuffed grape leaf, served with Stacy’s Pita Chips.

Wild Berry Parfait: A light yogurt parfait layered with vanilla yogurt, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, served with a crunchy chocolate granola.

Southwestern Chicken hand Roll: Zesty roasted red pepper tortilla rolled around strips of grilled chicken, green leaf lettuce, chipotle cream cheese spread, fire roasted corn and black beans, and a colorful trio of red, yellow and green bell peppers. Served with a side salad of orzo pasta with Southwestern vegetables and red pepper pesto and a Toblerone chocolate for dessert.

Black and Blue Steak Sandwich: Basil and cheese focaccia loaded with blackened flat iron steak, gorgonzola cheese spread, balsamic glazed onions, arugula, sliced Roma tomatoes and fresh red and yellow roasted tomatoes. Served with a Toblerone chocolate for dessert.

Turkey Florentine Hand Roll: Spinach tortilla wrapped around hand shaved turkey breast, herb cream cheese spread, feta cheese, fresh baby spinach, romaine leaf lettuce, sliced artichoke bottoms, yellow bell pepper strips, Roma tomato, and Belgian endive. Served with a side salad of gemelli pasta with Italian vegetables, sun dried tomatoes and creamy basil pesto, with a Toblerone chocolate for dessert.

Muffaletta Sandwich: Hearty Focaccia bread stuffed with shaved honey ham, Genoa salami, shaved turkey, Swiss and provolone cheese, spicy olive salad, green leaf lettuce, and sliced tomatoes, paired with Italian dressing on the side, and a Toblerone chocolate for dessert.

Thai Vegetable Salad: Refreshing Asian-style salad of romaine lettuce, Napa cabbage, julienne carrots, curly daikon radish, sliced cucumber, green onion, julienne tomato, red and yellow bell pepper strips, cilantro, mint, and chopped cashews. Served with sesame ginger vinaigrette dressing on the side and a Toblerone chocolate for dessert.

Fare alert – Virgin America $38 flights to fun destinations

Bored this week? Virgin America has some nice low fares loaded right now for travel to and from San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Los Angeles or Las Vegas.

At just $38 each way, you can get yourself a round trip ticket for just $97, all taxes and fees included. The prices only seem to be valid for travel in the coming week, so don’t expect $100 tickets during the summer months.

Normally, good fare deals usually involve trips from bad airports to places nobody wants to go, but a day trip from San Francisco to Seattle would probably make for a fantastic way to spend the day.

That’s right – these fares are also valid for same day returns. You could leave SFO at 7:15am and depart San Diego at 8:35, giving you an entire day to enjoy the city. A similar trip can be made from San Francisco to Seattle, leaving the airport at 9:55am and departing Seattle at 8:55pm, giving you plenty of time to visit Pike Place Market and take a ride up the Space Needle.

You’ll find the deals at the Virgin America web site, and don’t forget to bring your laptop or smartphone, because all these flights are currently served by Virgin America planes with WiFi service on board ($9.95 per flight).

As with most deals like this, the longer you wait, the fewer seats will be available at these low prices, so don’t procrastinate too long!