Review: Virgin America First Class A320 Newark To Los Angeles

This past Friday I needed to get from New York to Los Angeles pretty last minute. There are five airlines operating nonstop between Newark/Kennedy and LAX — American, Delta, JetBlue, United, and Virgin America.

I’ve reviewed American’s first class and American’s business class, and I’ve reviewed JetBlue’s incredible Mint product. Nick has reviewed Delta’s business class. Based on the last minute fares and award availability, I decided to mix things up this time around. Virgin America had first class award availability through Alaska Mileage Plan between Newark and Los Angeles on a flight that perfectly met my needs.

The flight cost 25,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles, which is a heck of a deal, given that any last minute nonstop one-way business class fare was over $1,000. Given that you can buy Alaska miles for about two cents each, that’s also the equivalent of paying ~$500 for the one-way ticket, which isn’t too bad last minute. I haven’t reviewed Virgin America first class before, so was excited to review it before Alaska changes the product that’s offered on these planes.

Virgin America operates out of the “A” concourse at Newark. I thought I could use the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, which belongs to Priority Pass and is also in the “A” concourse, though as it turns out, it’s actually in a different pier past a separate security checkpoint. The only lounge in the same concourse as Virgin America is the American Admirals Club, which I didn’t have access to.

So I just sat in the gate area and worked. The inbound flight arrived around 75 minutes before departure.

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Virgin America A320 Newark Airport

At 3:30PM boarding was called for our flight at gate A32, starting with first class.

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Virgin America departure gate Newark Airport

Virgin America 167
Newark (EWR) – Los Angeles (LAX)
Friday, April 28
Depart: 4:05PM
Arrive: 7:20PM
Duration: 6hr15min
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Seat: 2D (First Class)

Virgin America’s first class cabin is quite intimate, with just a total of eight seats. They’re spread across two rows, in a 2-2 configuration.

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Virgin America A320 first class seats

The seats have roughly 55″ of pitch, so they’re comfortable recliner seats. They’re similar to what most airlines had in international business class 10-15 years ago. What makes Virgin America unique is that they’re the only airline not to offer flat beds up front between New York and Los Angeles. At the same time, they have exactly the same configuration on all their planes, so this is a much better product than you’d otherwise have in domestic first class.

So the configuration is great for non-premium transcon markets, while in premium markets it’s a bit disappointing not to have a flat bed.

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Virgin America first class legroom

I had assigned myself seat 2D, the aisle seat on the right side in the second row.

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Virgin America A320 first class seats

Virgin America’s first class seats are a cream colored leather. Fortunately Virgin America uses mood lighting and generally keeps the cabin pretty dark, so you can’t see how worn the seats are. 😉 In all honesty, the seats looked pretty good given how long they’ve been around.

However, I found the padding in the seats to be awful. I’m sure the seat had good padding at some point, but I imagine that goes back several years.

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Virgin America first class seat

On the seatback in front of me were three well designed pouches.

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Virgin America first class legroom

Under my left armrest were the easy to use seat controls.

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Virgin America first class seat controls

The tray table could also be extended from the left armrest. The tray table could be folded in half, in case you just want it for a drink, or something.

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Virgin America first class tray

Then between the two seats was a small shared tray for drinks.

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Virgin America first class tray

Underneath the left armrest was the power outlet.

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Virgin America first class power outlet

The entertainment controller could be extended from the center armrest. I never used it though, since the entertainment device was touchscreen.

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Virgin America first class entertainment controller

In the seatback pocket were some really low quality headphones. That’s probably not an issue since most people bring their own headphones.

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Virgin America first class headphones

Waiting at each seat on boarding were a comfortable pillow and blanket, both of which were nice and thick. For a domestic flight I was quite happy with this. I believe Virgin America only has this bedding in transcon markets, so don’t expect to get this on a flight between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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Virgin America first class pillow & blanket

The inflight team leader, Tina, came by during boarding to offer pre-departure beverages of choice. I asked for some water, and was given a small bottle of Crystal Geyser water.

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Virgin America first class bottled water

Virgin America has interesting boarding music. It’s sort of house music, which I guess fits in with their mood lighting, etc. Unfortunately any vibe that Virgin America was trying to create was ruined by the lady seated next to me, who had six different business calls during the boarding process with her colleagues, clients, etc. She was talking loudly. It amazes me how little discretion people use, since just based on sitting near her I could figure out exactly who she worked for, that they were doing some shady things, and they were discussing things you wouldn’t want to be publicly known.

The boarding process was done by 3:50PM, but it seems like there was some sort of small mechanical delay, as maintenance people kept coming into the cockpit. The captain didn’t make an announcement during this time — actually, she didn’t make any announcement during the whole flight, which is the first time I ever recall that happening on a US airline.

By 4:10PM the door closed, at which point Tina made an announcement informing us of our flight time of 5hr40min. A few minutes later the safety video was screened. Virgin America has quite a unique safety video, which they call the “VX safety dance.” It’s a cute concept, though if I were a frequent flyer on Virgin America I can imagine it would drive me nuts, especially since it has been around for years.

You don’t actually watch the safety video if you’re in first class, since the monitors are in the armrests. Instead there’s a flight attendant in the aisle who does the safety demonstration in first class. It’s a bit weird to hear the super enthusiastic video while the flight attendant goes through the motions without much emotion. I was hoping for this guy, at least:

A few minutes after pushback we began our taxi, and by 4:30PM we were cleared for takeoff.

As we climbed out I extended my personal television and checked out the selection.

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Virgin America entertainment system

There were a good number of movies available — there were 20 “on demand movies,” plus 17 “classic & indie movies.”

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Virgin America entertainment selection

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Virgin America entertainment selection

There were also quite a few sitcoms.

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Virgin America entertainment selection

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Virgin America entertainment selection

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Virgin America entertainment selection

However, I found the quality of the selection a bit underwhelming. For example, they had Big Bang Theory, but from season two.

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Virgin America entertainment selection

While economy passengers can order food & drinks, that option isn’t available in first class.

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Virgin America food & drink selection through the entertainment system

Virgin America also has an onboard chat room. My days of using location based social networking applications are behind me, so I didn’t enter.

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Virgin America chat room

Interestingly you can apparently also upgrade during the flight through the entertainment system, though I’m not sure exactly how that works.

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Virgin America upgrades through the entertainment system

I don’t usually watch much TV on planes as I’d rather work when there’s wifi, though I was exhausted after a long week, and wanted a break. So I decided to watch “Becoming Warren Buffett.” I’m not exactly sure why, but the documentary made me cry. Like, I actually shed tears. It has been years since I’ve cried. The documentary was incredible, though I’m still not exactly sure why I cried.

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Virgin America entertainment selection

About 20 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off. Virgin America has see-through partitions separating the galley from first class, and separating first class from the main cabin. Personally I find that to be a bit odd, and I wouldn’t want to sit in row one, since the partition is somewhat reflective, so you’d basically be looking at yourself the whole flight.

The only curtain on the plane is around the galley on the right side.

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Virgin America first class cabin

After takeoff I checked out the lavatory, located at the front of the first class cabin. It was pretty basic, though I appreciated that they enforced that it was only available to first class passengers. There was even a rope separating first class from the main cabin.

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Virgin America first class lavatory

After takeoff the inflight team leader distributed the menu for the flight. Virgin America seems to just have a single menu, so it had both the breakfast and lunch/dinner options, even though we’d just have lunch/dinner on our flight.

The menu read as follows:

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The drink list read as follows:

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About 45 minutes after takeoff, the flight attendant took meal orders. All the service, including taking orders, seemed to start from the back right of the cabin, where I was seated.

Service began with warm towels, which were the same quality you’ll find on most airlines.

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Virgin America first class warm towel

Service was really slow to get started. It was an hour after takeoff before warm mixed nuts and drinks were served. I decided to have prosecco, which was light and refreshing.

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Virgin America first class dinner — prosecco & mixed nuts

The meal service finally began 90 minutes into the flight. I’m not sure why it took so long to get started, but fortunately Warren Buffett was keeping me plenty busy.

The tablecloth was placed on my table, and I appreciate that they don’t use trays for the meals in first class.

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Virgin America first class dinner — table setting

First I was served the appetizer and some bread.

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Virgin America first class dinner — appetizer & bread

The appetizer consisted of an asparagus strawberry salad with with arugula, pickled shallots, feta, and prosciutto. It was pretty good, though a very small portion.

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Virgin America first class dinner — asparagus strawberry salad

I was also offered a multigrain roll. There was no bread choice, but at least the bread I was served was pretty good.

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Virgin America first class dinner — bread and butter

I loved the airplane salt & pepper shaker — how cool!

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Virgin America first class salt & pepper shaker

For the main course I ordered the pasta, which I rarely do. As far as airplane pasta dishes go, it was surprisingly good, and one of the better pasta dishes I’ve had on a plane. I appreciated the effort that was put into the presentation, including the basil and cheese that was put on it after it was heated.

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Virgin America first class dinner main course — pasta primavera

Dessert consisted of a chocolate tart, which was simple but tasty.

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Virgin America first class dinner dessert — chocolate tart

I had a cup of coffee to accompany the dessert.

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Virgin America first class dinner — coffee

Overall I thought the meal was solid. On one hand I appreciated that the emphasis was on quality over quantity, which isn’t the case on many airlines. I also appreciated that everything was served directly on the table. At the same time, the meal service was really drawn out, and the food was only served about 90 minutes after takeoff.

After dinner I decided to get some work done. I have a Gogo monthly membership, which I’m happy about, because the pricing on this flight was insane. $44 for an all-day pass, and $34 for a flight pass? OUCH! You can buy a Gogo day pass for $19 in advance, so I feel bad for those who spent $34 for wifi on the flight.

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Virgin America Gogo pricing

After working for a bit I decided to watch “Why Him?” which was much more lighthearted than the Warren Buffett documentary. It was a pretty dumb movie, but whatever…

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Virgin America entertainment selection

I reclined my seat as far back as it would go, which really wasn’t very far back at all. For a daytime flight there’s not really a huge difference between a flat bed and a reclining seat like this, but there’s a huge difference on a redeye, in my opinion.

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Virgin America first class seat recline

About 75 minutes before landing the flight attendant came through the cabin with a few Dean & Deluca snacks. I selected some nuts and popcorn. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Virgin America used to let you order from the economy snack selection when in first class? I assume that was discontinued at some point.

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Virgin America first class Dean & Deluca snack

About an hour before landing we were offered warm chocolate chip cookies.

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Virgin America first class warm chocolate chip cookie

45 minutes before landing we were offered little amenity bags with the names of different cities served by Virgin America on them. I was given the choice of which “city” I wanted, including Chicago, Palm Springs, Portland, and Puerto Vallarta. I chose Portland.

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Virgin America first class kit

The kit had a pen and eyeshades. I guess it’s a nice touch, though I’m not sure what purpose this is supposed to serve shortly before landing? It just seems quite random.

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Virgin America first class kit

At around 6:45PM PT we began our descent. The descent was pretty bumpy, especially the final descent, as it was really windy in LA. We touched down at 7:20PM, and from there had a 10 minute taxi to our arrival gate.

Virgin America first class bottom line

It was nice to try Virgin America first class on a transcon flight before this product is discontinued in a couple of years. Overall I thought the soft product on Virgin America was pretty solid. The food was tasty and service friendly, though neither were over the top of memorable.

As far as the seat goes, it’s a great product if you’re not flying in a “premium” market, while at this point it’s uncompetitive in premium transcon markets, when all other airlines are offering flat beds. For 25,000 miles last minute I consider it to be a good deal, but I can’t believe the prices that Virgin America tries to charge. I find they’re often more expensive than the other carriers in the market, even though they have recliner seats.

JetBlue continues to be the winner in the transcon market with their great Mint product. They have the best crews, best hard product, best wifi, and solid food as well.

If you’ve flown Virgin America first class, what was your experience like?

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Comments

  1. @ zow — I have status and a Citi Prestige Card, but that doesn’t get you anything if you’re not flying American or a oneworld partner. I don’t have an Admirals Club membership directly, since the Citi Prestige Card has gotten me into Admirals Clubs when I needed it up until now.

  2. Is it just me or does EWR just feel depressing? I dont fly out of there often but I flew LH to FRA a couple of years ago and the gate area was just dark and blah.

    Also, there were armed military members by the jetway door questioning every single passenger (after boarding passes were scanned) about where they were going and why. Hadn’t had that happen to me before and found it very strange.

  3. This is why I’m not sad about Alaska replacing Virgin’s first class. Yes the seats are leather and have a lot of pitch, but in the end, it’s just not a great product. I’d rather have more seats up there and a chance at a complimentary upgrade (which Virgin doesn’t offer at all). Flat beds would be nice, but I only care about that on a redeye, and otherwise it’s lost on me. I’ll fly JetBlue if I’m taking a redeye, and otherwise I’m looking forward to Alaska’s product.

  4. Lucky, your recline was probably broken/ needed manual adjustment — this has been happening more and more over the last couple years as these cabins have aged, and especially now with replacement coming soon. Those seats actually recline at least 45 degrees — far more than a standard domestic F (non-lie flat) seat.

    On the pricing, the secret is that almost no one in F pays the F asking price — it’s largely VX elites who pay $240 (for long-haul) the day before to upgrade from a main cabin fare.

  5. “My days of using location based social networking applications are behind me, so I didn’t enter.”

    Well played, Lucky, well played.

  6. 1) Virgin really excels in economy on transcon routes. As an economy flier, you know you will get a good seat, an attentive FA, seatback entertainment, and order on demand food. The experience feels better than it does on most of the majors.

    2) Virgin transcon pricing is always more expensive than others, which makes it not competitive for me. Paid J on Delta, America and JetBlue Mint seem to be the most competitve for me. I usually fly American but I’m trying Mint for the first time in a few weeks.

  7. Nice pick of the ‘Portland’ amenity bag, even if random!
    Disclaimer: My comment may be biased given my Portland location.

  8. Hey Lucky,
    I’m noticing that in your recent posts you’re injecting more of your sense of humor and personality (like in the good old days.) I think this is great because it adds more color and spirit to your posts. I know from time to time you get some haters criticizing you, but don’t let that take away your voice 😉

  9. Loved your short words about crying over the Warren Buffet movie hahah. You’re awesome Lucky. Always a pleasure reading your posts. Keep it up!

  10. Ben,

    Virgin American actually has VIA SAT WIFI on there newer planes. Those are ships N281VA-N286VA and N362VA-N365VA. These are there newest planes (with WL) delivered after mid 2015 but it is always a gamble to get one because they cycle randomly thoughout the system. The only flights that guarantee these are the ones to Hawaii because of ETOPS configuration. However I don’t know if VIA SAT works over water. Still if you get on one of these planes by random, your in luck for faster wifi and it’s cheaper then GOGO (like 25 dollars between LAX-FLL) unless you have a monthly pass, your out of luck and still have to pay for VIASAT anyway. That’s what happened when I flew. Are the amenity bags only NYC-West Coast? I didn’t get one when flying First from LAX-FLL in March.

  11. Amenity bags are also available on (at least) Hawaii routes.

    Lucky, not that this fully explains it, but the city-themed bags rolled out early this year, with the knowledge that VX will soon cease to exist. So in addition to providing an eye mask and ear plugs, they function at least as much as souvenirs to remember the airline when it goes away forever. Previously, the bags were just black, with no real branding/illustration.

  12. ^^^ Meant to make clear that this was in response to the question of why they would be passing them out toward the end of the flight.

  13. Well that explains the whole amenity kit (if you want to call it that) thing. I have the New York City LGA themed one – and I quite like it too, it’s cute memorabilia. Although on my flight the flight attendants had passed it out right in the beginning – dunno why it was otherwise for you Lucky :/

  14. @Lucky — “If you’ve flown Virgin America first class, what was your experience like?”

    Several thoughts and a correction . . . according to flightmemory.com, I have flown VX FC on 31 of my 100+ flights with the airline. You experience is unlike ANY of my past experiences, whether the flight is (e.g.) SFO-SEA, SFO-LAS, SFO-ORD, or transcontinental to/from JFK, EWR, or DCA. I have flown out of EWR twice, both times in FC. (My GOD, that’s a horrible airport! Give me JFK any day. . . )

    1) The name of your plane cannot be seen in your first photo, so I cannot identify it. VX has Airbus 320s ranging from 1.3 years of age to more than 11! I am not surprised that some of the seats may look worn . . . DEPENDING upon the specific plane you’re on. And with AS having already announced that they will be adding a third row to FC once they make VX disappear, you can bet no cabin “refresh” will take place in the meantime. In the FWIW mode, my last FC flight was a week ago, ORD-SFO on “breanna jewel” (N642VA), which is 8.5 years old and I experienced none of the “wear-and-tear” you describe. I think it really is a plane-by-plane thing.

    2) The amenity kits are relatively new. The pen, by the way, can also serve as a stylus for a touchscreen. But the two that I have received — to and from ORD — were both handed out *prior* to take-off. Something definitely amiss there.

    3) I readily admit it’s always been difficult for me to sleep on a plane, whether it’s UpperClass to/from the UK on VS, or a lie-flat seat on a domestic flight. But when you write, “So the configuration is great for non-premium transcon markets, while in premium markets it’s a bit disappointing not to have a flat bed.,” I have to add that a) most of VX’s flights are *not* transcon, and b) I have never understood the reason for a lie-flat seat EXCEPT on a red-eye from the West to East Coast, where you take off at 10 or 11 at night and land the next morning by 7.

    4) re: the safety video —> “It’s a cute concept, though if I were a frequent flyer on Virgin America I can imagine it would drive me nuts, especially since it has been around for years.” Yes, the FA’s and I both hear it in our sleep!

    5) re: food service —> “On one hand I appreciated that the emphasis was on quality over quantity, which isn’t the case on many airlines. I also appreciated that everything was served directly on the table.” I agree, and I’ve never left the plane feeling hungry/ On the other hand, while I’ve never really timed how long the entire meal takes, 90 minutes *does* seem like a long time.

    6) The caption on your photograph reads, “Virgin America first class headphones.” This is NOT true. These are the same headphones one receives free of charge in First Class or Main Cabin Select, and when seated in Main Cabin (Economy), you pay $3 for. You get to keep them, but since (as you surmised) “most people bring their own headphones,” it’s rarely a problem. (Thank heaven for Bose noise-cancelling headphones!)

    Just my 2¢ . . . YMMV.

  15. Based on your flight info at the top. You were on N851VA dilevered in January of 2012 so around 5.5 years old. Its all plane dependent. I was on N362VA 2 months ago and everything felt new and comfortable (it was a year old at the time). In comparison in January I was on N626VAdelivered in 2006 (11 years old) and everything felt dated and worn.

  16. @Nawaid Ladak Yes, it has Live satellite TV.

    @Andy I prefer Row 2 because there is a divider between First Class and Economy so it’s a nice feeling that nobody is sitting directly behind me. In the bulkhead I could kinda stretch my legs by placing my feet on a small ledge where the glass is, otherwise no real difference.

  17. This was my first experience flying business or First Class on any plane. I took the crazy LAX-EWR-SFO for 15K Alaska Miles glitch that Lucky posted a while back, just for fun.

    And I would like to thank Lucky and everyone here for helping me with this hobby. I enjoy it because it’s only a hobby for me. And based on reviews and comments, I think I will enjoy most of the long haul cabins.

    I too thought I would have lounge access at Terminal A in Newark but noticed I would have to exit the terminal.

    My ‘Orlando’ amenity kit was waiting at my seat on my EWR-SFO return flight but I didn’t get one on the morning LAX-EWR flight.

    I thought the seat was ok, but my recliner at home is more comfortable due to the leg rests barely lifting above ground, half the time I had my feet on the floor.

    The service was really good on both flights. I’m a really picky eater. The flight attendant noticed I didn’t like anything on the menu, but was able to customize one of the choices just enough for me to eat. Prosciutto, that’s what that was. I didn’t like it.

    I too saw the Why Him? movie. It’s not something I would spend money to watch in theaters but perfectly fine to watch during a flight. It’s not that funny, but watchable.

    I used my T-Mobile to connect for the free one hour of wifi but on my EWR-SFO segment, it lasted the whole flight.

    I loved the tiny plane salt and pepper shaker, brought it home to my daughter, coolest thing I’ve seen.

    I had my wireless beats earphones, so it was nice to use the cheap earphones since I couldn’t use mine.

  18. Huh. Sounds pretty meh. Too bad! I love Virgin and usually have excellent service and a great product. Sorry this flight sounded pretty mediocre.

  19. Also of note when flying VX F:

    The pitch of rows 1 and 2 are significantly different. Row 2 has the largest amount of legroom I’ve ever had in a reclining seat.

  20. @Windbag Mles —> He’s not the only one. I’ve had several FA’s in First who “dance it” while the video plays . . . .

    @Dave —> In the early days of VX, or on short-haul flights, I prefer 1C/D: the better to watch first-time fliers on VX be “amazed” at what one — probably more than one, I’m sure — such neophyte described as “disco lighting” as they board a VX aircraft for the first time. Nowadays, it’s row 2 . . . .

  21. Hey – “that guy” whose video you shared … doing his own safety dance … is a friend of mind. And he’s just as awesome in person as he is on the video. Trust me it is NOT an act 🙂

  22. I was annoyed of the safety video after my first flight. After a ~10 segment MR, i was ready to jump out the window

  23. Flying FC LAX-MCO in a couple of weeks. First time flier on Virgin America. I have seat 2A. Is it easy to get out over the person next to me for a bathroom break or should I move up to 1A (available as of right now). No aisle seats available on this particular flight.

    I enjoyed this article and the comments. I hope the merger with Alaska doesn’t take away many of the unique features of Virgin America. I wish I would’ve known about them in the past.

  24. You may have missed the additional controls for the seat that are in the tray compartment. There is lumbar and a massage button there. 🙂

  25. I have been a loyal Virgin America customer for the past 10 years (following a move from New York to San Francisco, sadly leaving JetBlue as my primary airline).

    While Virgin is the young hip airline (Before Alaska ruins it), there are often service issues with Virgin.

    1. It seems all flight attendants feet weigh 50 pounds. I rarely am able to get rest on redeye flights as there is a flight attendant who must bound up and down the aisles like they are walking the runway at Fashion Week. They need to learn not to stomp.

    2. Power seats in First often break. One of the problems with powered seats is they break down. There are overrides in the armrest if you are stuck stretched out and need to sit up.

    3. Food is horrendous. The chefs need to tone it down. They start with a simple good idea and destroy it trying to make it hip. A great chicken dish is destroyed with olives and quinoa with a curry/pumpkin sauce. I often spend my meals scraping off sauces and other superfluous add ons that are distasteful.

    4. Baggage is unbelievable slow at SFO. This is where I hope Alaska can help make improvements. I have sat at the carousel for 30 minutes after I have arrived.

    5. No Lounge in their Hub City of San Francisco. While terminal 2 is exceptionally nice, when there is a delay, there is no place quiet to go.

    Virgin had so much potential, and the merger between Virgin and Alaska will be a make or break moment. The next few months will be very telling which direction they are going.

  26. @John Bernier —> Certainly *any* airline is only as good as the individual’s experience is on that airline. (So, too, with any consumer experience.) So this is certainly a case of “YMMV,” if ever there was. That said, I’ve flown VX now 110 times (35 in FC) since they started service, with at least 10 more flights already booked through the end of 2017, so I have *some* experience — although clearly different from yours.

    1) I’ve never experienced FA’s with 50 lb. feet. Then again, I have experienced some planes on some airlines with — let’s say “looser floorboards” — than others, albeit a relatively rare occurrence. But on those occasions, *everyone* passing my seat seems like their stomping around.

    2) Again, I have no doubt that this happens, and that you’ve experienced it. I haven’t, but I have experienced a total failure of the IFE — that wasn’t fun.

    3) I don’t know . . . I *like* the food. For airline food, I rank it at or near the top for domestic flights on US airlines. Then again, we all have our individual tastes.

    4) Slow/fast baggage times depend on what you’re used to. I find SFO to be relatively quick in terms of baggage, at least compared to OAK, MSY, EWR, and a few others. Yes, you have to wait, but where don’t you?

    5) No lounge at their home airport has ALWAYS been stupid, and my biggest disappointment with VX. That said, since AS is building a lounge at T2, this is a problem soon to be solved.

    Regardless of ALL of that . . . whether it’s a “deferral of maintenance” since the merger was announced and cleared its final hurdles, or the age of the overall fleet, there *does* seem to be more little “nagging things” that seem to be going, if not wrong, then at least “sideways.” We all know it just takes one employee, somewhere, to create delays, “forget” to clean something, or in countless other ways “ruin” the experience for passenger(s).

    On my last couple of flights, I noticed (for the first time) pilots wearing lanyards that read, “THIS MERGER WILL NOT FLY,” instead of their usual “Virgin America” (or “U.S. Navy,” etc.) lanyards. So, clearly, not every employee is happy with the merger.

  27. Nice trip report Lucky. The chocolate tart looks delicious.

    Searched up about LAX to EWR on first class after watching a video about XOJet. $30,000 one way for LAX to EWR compared to $900 for LAX to EWR on First Class but I guess its the privacy and time that’s saved for those celebrities.

    If I were to choose…I’d rather fly LAX to EWR 30 times on Virgin America first class than spend $30,000 on a one way trip lol (mainly because of the food. ;p)

  28. the lanyards say “without the pilots, this merger will not fly” — Alaska pilots have it as well.

    I’ve had hit or miss on VX, in both cabins. VX was an amazing airline – stressing WAS. 10 years ago, they had all the bells & whistles no one else did. Now they do. VX hasn’t updated their product, except for the cute funky F amenity kits. While Alaska is a ‘step down’, they have their own merits, and also an award-winning, customer friendly airline. The increased pitch on AS F is already more than you get on AA/DL – definitely not the 55″ VX has, but 41″ seems to beat everyone else in a domestic narrowbody non-suite seat.

  29. I have flown transcon on AA both in First and Business. These seats, though a million times more comfortable than coach… even in full recline they are not comfortable to sleep. Narrow and Hard, I also do not like the weird angle of the first class cabin, but I guess it feels a little exclusive. I am not impressed with the less then premium food, wine list and drinks. I mean even in first class it is 20 dollar prosecco. In first the captain did come out and and shake each customer’s hand and thank them for flying the airline. That is the only time I have ever had that happen ( though many times I have had the purser come by and do this.

    I also flew the old product planes in business and first on AA and United. They where really old and dingy on AA and the business seat on united sucked, they did have a true lie flat seat back in first then. The first I believe. I have also flown Jet Blue’s first class Business seats and that was a great experience, the seat, the food, the service. Still a narrow seat that I would not expect to ever get much sleep on.

    Trans con only has flat beds from SFO/LAX to NYC… AA, has angle flat seats LAX to MIA, on very old planes. Jet blue will probably change this as they are adding mint class from California to Boston, as well as D.C. And Seattle to NYC.

    I recently flew transcon from SFO to PHILADELPHIA, in first class, on American last Thanksgiving and the plane was ancient. The food was horrible, and the service was just OK, they have no competition on this route except with United, which is just as bad in all respects, except Alaska is coming into this route.

    I wantedd to point that first class, or at least the old first class on Alaska is horrible and certainly has little legroom and recline, and just OK food, but the service is excellent, except they allow the whole plane to use the first class toilet, when it is a full plane especially. Anyways I live in Honolulu now, and Virgin offers the best and most comfortable first class to California, and the best service. I think it is funny a few people bitched on here that they did not get free lounge access, one does not get it on the well reviewed Jet Blue Mint either, and frankly I would rather hangout at a nice restaurant, bar or cafe then sit in these sterile rooms, or better yet, find an airport spa and get a massage or manicure.

    I would imagine at Newark it would be a problem as that airport sucks ( like LGA does). But I fly mostly out of SFO, SJC, and Honolulu, which are some of the best airports in the country in the way of amenities, (Honolulu is getting a remodel, but the large and peaceful outdoor Japanese and Chinese gardens are great.

    Anyways I am a big fan of VA, be it in First or Economy or Economy Select. I have always gotten excellent and friendly service (that said Alaska is pretty decent too but not up to par… as is Jet blue…. I will fly American and Delta, but never United unless I am forced to, which is never….they are by far the worst, and their planes are still the oldest and most uncomfortable. I will never fly Spirit or Frontier either, life is too short, but Southwest is still great for short flights.

    I just wanted to point out a few international flights I have done in Business and First. I will not fly coach trans pacific Or transatlantic. Way too unformtable, especially if a night flight, I may do it on a day flight when I got a good night’s sleep.

    I have flown Business or “Club” on British a couple times and find the seat and the service lack luster, they do have good lounges and pretty good food, but their product is old and. Uncompetitive now. I have flown British First a couple times and found it excellent, a 100 times better then “club”. And the Concorde room in London is prettty cool though VA is better or Cathay Pacific lounges in SFO or Hong Kong.

    I have flown Business on Cathay Pacific and they where by far the best I have flown, from seat or bed, to food, to lounges, to especially the service.

    I have flown many times on Finnair Business and it is just OK, pretty rude service as surprising many flight attends to not speak English, also just OK food, the bed or seat is very uncomfortable as it is not truely flat, and there is no room for your feet. They have a decent lounge in Helsinki. I also flew First from Helsinki onto Moscow on Aeroflot, which was very good for what was just a 3 hour flight. What was amazing seeing women wearing fur coats and 100K in jewelry in the middle of August when it is HUMID there. They all looked like high class prositutes sitting next to their Russian Mafia boyfriends, they mostly just go to Europe to shop. The last Business class I flew On Ukraine airlines, was crappy by international standards, but I was happy I was not stuck in coach. This was to Israel that was about 90 degrees when we landed, but we had a 90 min layover in Kiev where it was freezing , icy, and snowing, and we had to take buses, no jetways. Oh and I flew once Gaurada Indonesia Business, it was excellent.
    I am saving my miles to fly Emeriates, I think the idea of Bar to go to on a plane to pass the time is so cool. They have these on Korean airlines as well, which I forgot, I flew them 12 or 15 years ago in business to Vietnam via Soul, great food, excellent service, nice lounges, but horrible angle flat seats or beds… I did manage a few hours I guess, and was happy I was not in coach. This was before the 380 though which has had huge upgrades, and their sky bar.

    Anyways I liked this article, and I thought the dancing airline attendant was great!

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