Virgin America puts on the dog for its newest destination


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Virgin America is bringing its stylish, fun and low-fare service to one of Mexico’s hottest destinations as of December 2, 2011: with tickets on sale now for its new nonstop flights from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Puerto Vallarta International Airport (PVR).

To mark its expansion to its third Mexican destination and to celebrate Puerto Vallarta’s roots as an animal sanctuary, today the carrier launches a “No Chihuahua Left Behind” fare sale in support of its ongoing Chihuahua rescue and airlift efforts. As the only San Francisco-based airline, Virgin America first teamed up with the City of San Francisco Animal Care and Control (SF ACC) in 2010 to fly Chihuahuas to new homes on the East Coast.

The overpopulation of Chihuahuas in California continues to force West Coast animal shelters to look for help from shelters on the East Coast — where there is demand for the dogs. Due to the impact of Hurricane Irene and the associated re-accommodation of guests on all open flights, the airline postponed plans to fly an “Operation: Chihuahua” airlift from San Francisco to New York today. Even though the SF ACC Chihuahuas are temporarily grounded, the airline is keeping the dogs on “standby” for a rescheduled airlift — and is also pledging $25** for every Mexico booking made during the three-day fare sale to support local dogs and future airlift flights.

“We’re pleased to offer our new low-fare flights to travelers looking to kick off their vacations to Puerto Vallarta in style,” said Ross Bonanno, Vice President of Airports and Guest Services at Virgin America. “With Puerto Vallarta’s history as an animal refuge, we thought this launch would also be a great opportunity to support our ongoing efforts with SF Animal Care and Control. We’re excited to give flyers a reason to support a worthy cause with a great fare sale, and of course, to roll out the red carpet for our little VIPs now traveling standby in Main Chihuahua Select later this year.”

The “No Chihuahua Left Behind” fare sale is good for travel between September 6, 2011 and December 15, 2011 on all Virgin America routes — including Mexico destinations (the airline flies to Cancun, Los Cabos and as of December 2: Puerto Vallarta). Tickets must be purchased by 11:59pm PDT on September 1. Guests who book a Mexican flight during the three-day fare sale will help sponsor a Chihuahua, with the airline pledging $25 per Mexico booking** to support the SF ACC via both cash and in-kind flights for future airlifts. Those who book will also receive a share-able Facebook photo of one of the dogs they helped “adopt” in an email booking confirmation. The carrier’s Facebook page is inviting guests to vote on which SF ACC dogs should be “upgraded” on the rescheduled SFO-JFK flights.

Located on the Pacific Coast where the states of Jalisco and Nayarit meet, Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico’s hottest destinations — with a rich cultural tradition, a historic cobblestone downtown, family-friendly attractions and world-class resorts. In 2010, Puerto Vallarta was named the best Mexican vacation destination by U.S. News & World Report — and it is estimated that over three million travelers visit annually. The area is also known as an environmental refuge, with a globally-recognized sea turtle conservation program and a variety of eco-tourism attractions. For more on the area’s beaches, attractions and history, visit:

“On behalf of Puerto Vallarta I would like to thank Virgin America for choosing our beautiful city as the perfect place for their new flights. We cannot wait to show our destination to more San Francisco visitors,” said Puerto Vallarta Mayor Salvador Gonzalez Resendiz. “Travel partners like Virgin America add a plus to the pleasure of traveling, they make vacations a whole new experience. Complementing their excellent service with a paradise-like destination is the perfect way to ensure success.”

The airline plans to reschedule the next “Operation: Chihuahua” airlift for later this year under clearer skies. The wayfaring Chihuahuas have already experienced their fair share of weather-related delays, with a former “Operation: Chihuahua” airlift called off in December 2009 due to the epic East Coast snowstorms. The airline was able to reschedule the flights in 2010, so that dozens of dogs could be placed into loving New York homes — after first enjoying the flight service named the best in the U.S. in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards and Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers Choice Awards. Due to the delay in transport caused by the impacts of Hurricane Irene, SF ACC is encouraging Bay Area residents to visit the shelter and adopt. SF ACC is now at maximum capacity and has no more space for incoming dogs. Chihuahuas up for adoption at SF ACC will be available at 50 percent off the normal adoption fee now through September 12. More on the Chihuahua overpopulation issue and the SF ACC can be found at:

“We couldn’t be more pleased to again partner with our hometown airline,” said Rebecca Katz, Director of the City of San Francisco Animal Care and Control. “We have a major overpopulation of Chihuahuas here in California. Virgin America’s continued support in flying these little guys out to the East Coast over the last couple of years has helped us place them into loving homes that they couldn’t have found here. Even though weather will delay this latest airlift, we are pleased Virgin America has stepped up to provide much-needed support to the dozens of pups we now literally have on standby. We encourage Bay Area residents to drop-in and check out their local shelters if they’re thinking about adopting.”

Virgin America also today launches a line of new pet-friendly products on Virgin America’s Swag Shop, including Virgin-branded pet hoodies and a pets-only water bottle that offers hydration for bi-coastal pups on the go. All swag shop items earn 1 Elevate point per $1 spent. For more, visit:

The carrier’s new PVR schedule (below) will operate daily except for Mondays and Thursdays as of December 2******:

SFO-PVR 0930-1510

PVR-SFO 1610-1815