Virgin America returns to Palm Springs International Airport

September 10th, 2013 | by Skip Descant | Comments
This photo, provided by Virgin America, shows one of the airline's Airbus 320 jets. The airline has announced returning service to Palm Springs beginning Oct. 21.

This photo, provided by Virgin America, shows one of the airline’s Airbus 320 jets. The airline has announced returning service to Palm Springs beginning Oct. 21.



Non-stop flights on Virgin America to John F. Kennedy International Airport from Palm Springs are set to resume in late December.

The airline also announced it will restart its seasonal service with a flight from San Francisco on Friday, Oct. 11, to kick off Virgin’s weekend service to Palm Springs. Daily service between Palm Springs and San Francisco begins Nov. 21. The non-stop service to JFK will operate on Saturdays beginning Dec. 21. Both routes are essentially a continuation of the Virgin’s seasonal service to Palm Springs International Airport.

“Since entering the Palm Springs market, we’ve seen strong guest demand for our unique flight service and are pleased to resume our nonstop flights from New York to the desert this winter,” said Adam Green, Director of Network Planning at Virgin America, in a statement. “We’re thankful for the partnership and support of the airport, city and tourism community in welcoming our service back and continuing to help us grow.”

Based in San Francisco and launched in 2007 — and with its relatively small fleet of 53 aircraft — Virgin has couched itself as a boutique airline. You can see this in its cool mood lighting, inflight Wi-Fi, comfy seats and those terribly cute safety videos. The airline adds to Palm Springs’ mix air service, from legacy carriers like American Airlines, to discount fliers like Allegiant Air and Frontier, and even regional favorites like Alaska Air.

“Greater Palm Springs’ nine cities are a popular getaway with world-class attractions drawing visitors from all parts of the world,” said Scott White President and CEO for the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau, in a statement. “With the continuation of Virgin America’s nonstop JFK-PSP round-trip service, guests from New York City and the surrounding regions can escape colder weather and experience events from our music and arts festivals and sports tournaments to celebrations of fashion and architecture.”

Fliers may recall some pretty favorable fares last year when Virgin launched its non-stop service to New York. Those are no more. I checked on a round-trip flight from PSP to JFK, departing Dec. 28 and returning Jan. 4. Virgin’s booking website put the trip at $973.80.

I checked the same flight with American Airlines and came up with a $915.60 deal. It’s a little cheaper, but involves a connection in San Francisco, rather than the smooth six-hour flight into the Big Apple.

“Our flights between JFK and PSP were very popular with flyers last year and our fares are competitive given that ours is the only nonstop service from New York City to the Palm Springs and desert region,” said Patricia Condon, a spokes woman for Virgin America.

The Palm Springs International Airport made $50,000 available to Virgin last year when it launched the new PSP to JFK non-stop route. Though since the returning service is a continuation of what was started last year, the airline is no longer eligible for the “jump-start marketing funds,” said Thomas  Nolan, executive director of the Palm Springs International.

“However the (Greater Palm Springs) CVB and Palm Springs Tourism Bureau will be stepping up collaboratively with marketing funding and in-kind services to our Virgin America partners,” Nolan added in an email.

“The continued success of the Virgin America service at PSP will ultimately be driven by passenger utilization,” he continued, urging all passengers in the Coachella Valley and beyond to take advantage of the non-stop flights.


Virgin America resumes weekend service between San Francisco and Palm Springs on Friday, Oct. 11. Daily service begins Nov. 21. An earlier version of this post included an incorrect date.

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