Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Virgin America

I flew Virgin Atlantic for the first time recently, for a day trip to San Francisco. I enjoyed it. I can’t remember the last time I actually enjoyed getting on a plane.

The first really standout bit was when the Seattle ground folks put on music and a name that song contest. They handed out free drink tickets for each winner, and a second free drink for singing along through the PA. I was initially a little skeptical — I really wanted some peace and quiet — but it’s better than airport CNN. They seemed to be having a genuinely good time, and they had me smiling by the time I got on the plane.

On the way home, I splurged for a $50 upgrade, figuring that I needed a drink or three, and some food wouldn’t hurt either. The seat was comfy, and the flight attendant was friendly, conversational and appeared to be enjoying himself.

If I lived in San Francisco (their US hub) I’d be a convert. As is, I’ll likely fly them when I can.

If I was one of those pedantic bloggers who tried to tie everything back to the blog title, I’d talk about the value of the unexpected. But really, give them a chance if you’re headed on a route they fly.

8 comments on "Virgin America"

  • Mordaxus says:

    In contrast, I flew VA exactly once, and am unlikely ever to do so again.
    The one time I flew them, I had to make a last-minute trip to Europe and flying on American (my usual), would have cost over five grand. In contrast, the VA flight in Premium Economy was under $3000.
    However, VA has no seat power in Premium Economy, and I wanted to bring an extra laptop battery, a book, and so on. VA limited me to 6kg of hand luggage on so-called Premium, so I had to play Sophie’s Choice with a rude gate agent against my laptop and book and check my rollaboard. Yes, I got a free G&T, but I’d have paid $5 to have my laptop battery.
    In American coach, no one would have bitched me out about my hand bags, I wouldn’t have had to have an extra battery because they have seat power, and I wouldn’t have had to check my carryon.
    Yes, I’m a spoilt business traveler, but I know bad service when I get it, and it irks me to pay Premium and get Worse Than Coach.

  • MikeA says:

    When I can I always fly Virgin – both domestic and international. As you say Adam, their service and laid-back style is great (but not for everyone), not to mention that the in-flight services are better than most other carriers.
    I can’t wait until Virgin America expand and give the domestic carries a run for their money (and passengers), and really hope for more flights out of SEA as well 🙂
    @mordaxus: You must have had an unlucky experience – I know that it’s down to individuals to make/break the experience for passengers, but I haven’t had any of that (and fly back-forth US->UK at least once a year on VA). You must have been unlucky with your plane as well, because most VA flights have seat power in premium. I always check out this site before I fly

  • Mordaxus says:

    @MikeA: I did (and do) check Seat Guru — that’s how I knew to pack an extra battery, bring a book, and so on.
    I fly US->Europe eight to ten times a year, and have tried any number of alternatives to the usual flights. Virgin, MaxJet (pacem), and so on. They all have issues. For me, the frequent traveler, the occasional indignities of the major airlines make up in the long run for overall level.
    When I’ve spoken to frequent Virgin fliers, they’ve said that yes, the stingy bag rules and so on are completely at the whim of the gate agent and they’ve learned to spot the ones who are cranky.

  • Adam says:

    hmm, I certainly didn’t run into any such baggage limit. Had both my computer case & a 22″ roller suitcase with me.

  • Anonymous says:

    Before committing to Virgin America, you might try calling their customer service phone number a few times. The two people I know who have flown Virgin America both told me that when they tried calling the customer service phone number, they never managed to get through: there were on hold for a few minutes, then the call just drops (this seems to be repeatable). Maybe this was just bad luck, but if it is typical, I’d personally find that a non-starter: what if you need to reach a person to change your flight, or refund a ticket, or correct a mistake, or for some other reason?

  • shhh, you’re giving away the secret. i’ve long since converted all my travel to virgin america and never looked back. i could list a dozen reasons why they rock, but now you have given me a new one: petty whiners like Mordaxus won’t be sitting next to me. 😛

  • Adam says:

    Davi, please keep it polite and congenial. Thanks!

  • Oh, sorry, I meant to say “spoiled business travelers like Mordaxus…”

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