Airline Review: Virgin America (VX)

Long and extensive review so be forwarned and also, a display and flaunting of my Airline Elitist flair.

Here is an overall review of VX. I had the pleasure to fly on Virgin America (VX) on two occassions. My disclaimer is that this is only my personal experience and nobody elses so your experience on VX may vary however, I’ve yet to go wrong with them and I’m very satisfied as a VX customer. If you’d like to know about where they fly, click here. Service from SEA will commence March 18!

This was my original review on FlyerTalk:

I decided upon a very spontaneous trip down to SFO and then to LAX to visit my family. I flew to SFO on Air Canada, stayed over night, then booked myself a first class seat from SFO to LAX. The fare difference at the time between Economy and first class was a mere $50 so I thought to myself, why the heck not? From check-in to getting off the plane, it was awesome. The seats were comfortable, I found the lighting system to be neat, food/snacks offered were excellent and the Asian FA was super-mega-made-me-melt hot! :D

Beside me was a young couple with an infant maybe a year old at most. The infant was crying and making noise now and then but the FA did her best to calm the child down even after he threw up. I was trying to get some last minute work done and the FA was very respectful of my privacy and ensured I had enough water, coffee and snacks to keep me going throughout the flight.

The cutlery was very nice and solid (afterall, they are new) and the overall presentation was excellent. I had to opt out of the IFE unfortunately as I had to finish off a report using my laptop. All I know is that the IFE system is called, “RED.” There, you have options on satellite TV and movies etc. For economy there is a charge for premium content (PPV etc.) but that is all included in first class. They also have video games I think and a chat program where you can chat amongst other passengers. Kinda neat if you happen to find a good looking guy or gal you want to get to know. Also, they are working on WiFi during your flight. I believe Lufthansa offered this service but if VX can offer it, even more enticing for me to fly with them on a regular basis!

As for a special check-in for first class, at SFO at least, yes, there is as I did see a sign for it but it wasn’t busy so I was just pointed to the next available check-in agent. I’ve read somewhere on this forum that there isn’t special check-in for first class but not to my experience anyway. Also, there is no priority baggage check but North American priority baggage check-in service is iffy and almost meaningless anyway.

If you’re more of a traditional traveller, you may be irked by the upbeat FAs and pilots as they have more of a personal approach to doing things along with jokes here and there to make you smile. I didn’t have a problem with this as I tend to like this style of operation. Regardless, I can’t wait for them to start service in SEA. Maybe I’ll even bump in to you! Otherwise, if you check out their website thoroughly, it gives you a Flash presentation as to what you can expect and for me, it was pretty bang-on.

The verdict – I like VX – a lot. The service and overall experience blew me away compared to my years of loyalty with Air Canada. Although I understand that VX is new and they have a different approach to doing business a la Sir Richard Branson, I have a feeling that this may change but I hope they keep this up. Their airfares are justifiable and not too expensive and their schedules are great. Not only that, they’re expanding to SEA which is no more than 2 hours away from me anyway giving me more flexibility to fly with them. On the other hand, as mentioned in a previous thread, there is no FFP and at the same time, apparently, I am a “Founding Member” of eleVAte, whatever that means.

All in all, I like VX and hope they keep up their standards the same way I first experienced them, however, I’d fly with them more often if they offered service from YVR and if they worked on a better frequent flyer program.

Here are pictures as follows:

San Francisco International Airport

First Class Check-In

Main Check-In

Web Bag Drop-Off


First Class Seating

This is the layout for First Class. Nice plush leather seats which I find are very posh in my opinion. Nice and comfy as it has a built-in massage system and also, the bottom folds out like a reclining chair with a foot rest.

As you can see, on the side are the controls for the seats along with the remote control for the RED IFE system. Also on the arm of the seat is the pull-out table which can be converted into a book stand. Those two tubes you see are adjustable lights rather than overhead lights.

Notice the amount of leg room? :)

Main Cabin

I only managed to snap a shot of this photo of the Main Cabin as the cleaning crews were busy and in a hurry. This is a shot of the seats just behind First Class. The seats are pretty comfortable overall and there’s enough leg room to be a happy flyer. Generally, the RED IFE is on the seat itself. You can pay an extra $25 for seats in the bulkhead and emergency rows which are actually very coveted seats and well worth it on transcon flights w/o the price of first class.

Again, my apologies for lack of review on RED. As my flight was only 1 hour long on both trips, I never got the opportunity to take full advantage of it. Besides, this time around, the lady beside me was fidgeting non-stop and made me feel uncomfortable. Everytime she wanted to talk to me, she would slap me on the arm or elbow me. I found that very annoying and had to ask her to stop. Not only that, she was talking very loudly and obtrusively. I did see the fellow on my right use RED and he seemed to be quite entertained with the content.

Food – First Class

This was the snack box provided to me on my first flight on VX. First class on VX from SFO to LAX – a short 1 hour flight which in my opinion, does not justify a full-blown meal. :p

As you can see, from left to right, small bite sized snack portions – yoghurt with field berries, assorted fruits, and a ham & cheese roll complimented with a pickle (and the small grape tomato you see on the bottom.)

The picture below is my most recent flight (yesterday.) Sorry for the poor picture quality – snapped with my Nokia 6300.

Again, from left to right – bocconcini covered in a light olive oil and pesto dressing, custard type of dessert with strawberry, and a roll of prosciutto with olive and artichoke. Pretty tasty for a small afternoon snack.

For you folks in the main cabin, if you want something to drink or to eat, you have to use the RED system and then press the “EAT” button (I think it’s a picture of a cake or something.) There, you pick and choose what you want. The offerings are typical with sandwiches, the snack box above, pop, cookies, chips, veggies and dip etc. All paid by credit card only. They don’t accept cash onboard.

Los Angeles International Airport
Not much here. I’m personally not a big fan of LAX. I find that it’s an old run-down airport that is seriously due for a major upgrade. But this is the check-in counter in general and what to expect.

Again, I apologise for the lack of photos (quality too.) I hate snapping pictures of the general public because I know there are some people who don’t like being in pictures without prior consent (I’m one of them.) I hope this helps by giving you a small idea of what to expect on VX and hope you enjoy your flights with them. It’s only been my second flight with Vx but I still intend to fly with them in the very near future on a regular basis once service starts at SEA.

Oh, and on both occassions, both my flights departed and arrived early by 15 – 20 minutes. This is not a big problem for me. The overall check-in process is great. This time around when I checked in from LAX, I did the self-check in as I did not have any baggage. While doing so, the system asked if I wanted to ugprade for an extra $50 to first class, I said sure! So really, my $44 economy class ticket easily turned into a $100 first class flight. I won’t complain. :D

For you first class lovers, I would suggest you try their first class service on transcon flights in order to take full advantage of their service such as meals, RED and other benefits as a first class flyer. Their prices are great so I would recommend that you give it a shot. I’m a little spoiled because I started on VX on first class and I think I’ll continue to do so.

I am by no means, a travel expert. I simply like to share my experiences with others so your experience may vary. If you have any questions, feel free to ask! :)

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