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Virgin Atlantic bills itself as "Britain's Flag Carrier." It is headquartered in London, England, and began its life in 1984 as a single Boeing 747 flying between London and New York City. The airline takes its name from Richard Branson's Virgin Group, which still owns 51% of the airline (the rest is owned by Singapore Airlines).

In the beginning, Virgin's expansion was solely across the Atlantic Ocean, but after starting service to Tokyo in 1989, they became a truly global airline. From their hubs at Heathrow and Gatwick Airport, they serve 18 cities with over 500 flights a month:

This is in addition to cities that they serve through codeshare agreements with bmi British Midland, Malaysia Airlines, Nationwide, and Singapore Airlines. Upcoming destinations include Port Harcourt, Tobago, and Grenada.

Virgin, like Branson himself, is known for being flamboyant: its highest-paying passengers enjoy limousine service to and from the airport, drive thru check-ins, inflight beauty treatments, and some of the most awesome VIP lounges on the planet. Their planes carry names like Hot Lips and Lady in Red, and now feature pinup-style nose art of a speedbird-shaped woman stripping off a dress to reveal a Union Jack.

Their fleet consists of 12 747-400's and 12 Airbus A340's, the latter of which are used for longer-range routes. Virgin currently has 6 more A340's and 6 Airbus A380's on order.

www.virgin-atlantic.com

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