Virgin America Launches, First Flight Delayed

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Virgin America got a tough introduction to flying in the U.S. airspace system on Wednesday morning -- the airline's very first flight, scheduled to launch from New York Kennedy Airport at 9:59 a.m., was delayed almost an hour by thunderstorms. Virgin America, in which Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group has a 25-percent stake, has entered the U.S. market with promises of better customer service and lower fares. The airline's 10 Airbus A320s feature leather seats, mood lighting and personal video screens for each passenger. The airline is offering round-trip fares of $278 between New York and San Francisco, with more routes to be added soon. Branson took a seat on the inaugural flight, with festivities planned for the landing of the first two flights in San Francisco -- one from New York and one from Los Angeles.