Virgin America is a newer airline that launched its operations in August of 2007. Being a smaller airline, it has caught a lot of attention, especially with "best-in-class" awards. We found that these awards include a Best Domestic Airline from Condé Nast Traveler's for six years in a row, Best Business/First Class, and Best Domestic Airline from Travel and Leisure for six years in a row. Virgin America has mood-lit cabins, Wi-Fi in every plane in its fleet, comfortable custom leather seats, power outlets, and video touch-screen on seat backs for customer service. Virgin America flies to the following locations: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Cancun, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Dallas Love Field, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Cabos, New York, Orlando, Portland, Puerto Vallarta, San Diego, Seattle, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Austin.
- Ticket prices
- Travel insurance
We really liked this small carrier. We found that prices with Virgin America were pretty reasonable. We found some prices at $69 for a one-way ticket. We also liked the fact that there were touchscreens on the back of every seat. Customers can easily order their drinks or meals from the touchscreen that is in front of them.
We liked the travel insurance we found with Virgin America. We found that the travel insurance quoted on was only $30, compared to the $80 through Delta Airlines. We found that the Virgin America travel insurance details were comparable to that of Delta, for a significantly cheaper price.
We liked the refundable fares. These might cost a little bit more when purchasing the ticket, but ultimately save the customer more money when a flight is canceled.
Another thing that we really liked about Virgin America was the ease of getting a flight booked. We found that the website was easy to use and helped us find flights and connections between the different destinations offered by Virgin America with ease.
Virgin America usually offers free in-flight Internet during the holidays. This is a great feature for a client who wants to stay connected while they are on the road. We also liked that every single Virgin America plane has Wi-Fi capabilities for customers, though it does cost a bit extra.
We also liked Virgin America's in-flight selection of meals. If you fly first class, your meal is free. However, the average price for a meal is $7 if you are flying economy. This is a pretty affordable price compared to other airlines. You can easily upgrade your seat in the economy area of the plane for a flat rate of $30.
When we called in, we wanted to make sure that our travel insurance would cover baggage issues. We found that travel insurance was a great investment if you were worried about receiving your bags at your destination safely.
- Point expiration
There were a couple of things that we didn't like about Virgin America that are representative of smaller airlines. We didn't like the baggage liability that Virgin America offers. They will replace or repair your baggage, but they don't quote a dollar amount of liability that they assume if they damage your luggage. We found that other carriers, such as Delta, made it possible to manage the liability for your baggage and had a quoted dollar amount. In fact, with Virgin America, they distance themselves from being liable for your luggage and highly suggest that you purchase travel insurance to protect your bags.
We also didn't like the non-refundable fares that Virgin America offered. If your flight is canceled due to weather or unforeseen circumstances, you will have a $75 fee deducted from your credit. If you want to avoid this liability, you should probably purchase a refundable fare option. In our opinion, this feature of Virgin America's service is not that much different from taking Greyhound.
While generous, we really didn't like the expiration dates associated with Elevate, Virgin America's rewards program. If you don't use your account for 18 months, you lose all your travel points, no matter how many you've built up.
The Bottom Line
We definitely recommend Virgin America. If you are going to fly with them, however, you should probably purchase travel insurance and get the refundable fare options. While the complaints with Virgin America are low, we found that there were a few complaints about their treatment of baggage and the $75 cancellation fee for non-refundable fares. Other than that, we found that they are a great company with an excellent reputation.