The airline industry’s new digital standard
Virgin America already had a reputation for making flying fun again. It paired a playful brand personality with a great customer experience, introducing perks like touch-screen entertainment, personal power outlets, and Wi-Fi on every flight. As its digital agency of record, Work & Co took on the challenge of creating the airline industry’s best booking experience.
We designed and developed the very first responsive airline website. Then we extended the experience to mobile, simultaneously launching new native apps for iOS and Android. Within hours of launching, Virgin America was the #1 featured app on both the App Store and Google Play.
Propelled by its tech-forward reputation, Virgin America launched an IPO in 2016. In 2018, it was acquired by Alaska Airlines.
What We Did
- Strategy and user research
- Design across web, mobile, IFE
- Platform architecture
- Web, iOS, and Android app development
- Digital-first branding
- Analytics and optimization
“Work & Co was a completely different kind of partner. They took something very complex and created a simple, beautiful, and intuitive user experience.”
“The first radical rethinking of the flight booking experience in a decade.” Read more
“Both the process and the outcome offer techniques that other companies looking to build innovative products and services can follow.” Read more
“An impressively simple experience for booking, managing, and checking in to flights.” Read more
Virgin America’s New App Puts a Travel Agent in Your Pocket. Read more
"Most impressive industry evolution"
3x Cannes Lions Awards
5x Webby Awards
3x Pixel Awards
Clio, One Show Award, Digiday Award, UX Award, CES Innovation Award, London International Award, Communication Arts Interactive
3 Big Takeaways
Focusing on the most important customer needs
Work & Co recognized early on that Virgin’s KPIs were driven by just a few important use cases, not a dozen. To make sure users could quickly find and book their next trip, we ruthlessly prioritized, slashing the promotional messaging most airline sites feature prominently on the homepage. Our new streamlined experience let travelers book flights in just 60 seconds.
Consistency Across Platforms
A booking journey often includes multiple devices. Our technology team built a site that worked on all of them. Users could start booking on a laptop at work and finish booking on a smartphone at home. The Virgin America app also remembered users’ preferred routes, seat preferences, and companion details. A personalized approach meant a better, faster experience.
We built the app and website to function as contextually aware travel companions that showed users the most relevant information. When it was time to head to the airport, the app and website would automatically switch to day-of-travel mode, enabling rapid check-in and persistent access to your boarding pass. After every trip, both experiences celebrated the completion of your trip and showed your updated loyalty information.
Entertainment in the Air
We also reimagined Virgin’s approach to an in-flight video player. It uses the same interaction models as the site and the app so users have the same experience across all touchpoints.
A new architecture for web and mobile
Flexible and Scalable
An amazing front-end experience is only possible with a robust technology solution backing it. Like most airlines, Virgin America’s booking technology was powered by Sabre, a decades-old back-end system. We created an architecture to provide the flexibility we needed.
A bespoke CMS let Virgin America centralize their flight service content, including tiers, food options, destination pages, and promotions. We used Adobe Analytics and Optimizely for client-side A/B testing.
Android and iOS
The airline industry often relied on webview and off-the-shelf solutions. We built a truly native app, developing iOS and Android simultaneously to speed up development. Every platform shared the same layer of business logic to reduce maintenance. It was a radically different and efficient approach to digital product development for our client partners. Whenever it was time to make a change, updates rolled out at the same time across every platform.
Flipping the Process
Logos and branding usually start offline and then go digital. Virgin America went the other direction. They extended Work & Co’s digital branding across their other offline communication channels, from billboards in Times Square to airports across the country.