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.


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Our Score

The Good

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.

The Bad

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.

The cost of checking baggage onto a flight can quickly add up and cost passenger’s hefty additional expenses on their flights. While Virgin America’s fees are standard and not totally out of control for checked baggage, it will cost customers added expenses. The first checked bag with a standard main cabin ticket will cost passengers twenty-five dollars. The great thing about Virgin America however is that the price does not increase for additional bags. The second checked bag with a standard main cabin ticket will also cost twenty-five dollars as does the third bag, and each additional bag up to ten bags. Compared to other airline companies, this is a great service to their customers as many airline companies charge increasingly larger amounts for additional bags to be checked. Excessive luggage that is larger than the requirements of fifty pounds in weight but under seventy pounds will be charged an excessive baggage fee of fifty dollars. Bags that are above seventy pounds will have an additional one-hundred-dollar excessive baggage fee and bags that exceed the sixty-two-inch height requirement will be charged a seventy-five-dollar excessive baggage fee. Passengers are only allowed up to ten bags to be checked. First class passengers can enjoy up to two free checked bags and pay twenty-five dollars per bag for any additional bags. Main Cabin Select passengers and passengers who purchase the fully refundable main cabin fare are allotted one free checked bag and will pay twenty-five dollars per additional checked bag. When compared to other airlines, these checked baggage prices are standard and can be found in many other airline policies. However, the straight twenty-five-dollar fee for each checked bag is really a huge benefit and can save passengers flying with Virgin America a lot of money in additional traveling expenses.

Making travel plans in advance can be risky because life is so unpredictable. The travel insurance an airline offers can make all the difference in customer satisfaction knowing compensation is possible for unplanned events. The most important forms of insurance an airline can provide include the following: • Trip cancelation and refund policy • Baggage loss or delay • Special assistance during the flight Virgin America provides a standard ticket refund policy to their customers. A twenty-four-hour grace period is given for any airfare that is purchased and if a trip is canceled during that time, a full refund is available without penalties. In addition to the

• Trip cancelation and refund policy

• Baggage loss or delay

• Special assistance during the flight Virgin America provides a standard ticket refund policy to their customers.

A twenty-four-hour grace period is given for any airfare that is purchased and if a trip is canceled during that time, a full refund is available without penalties. In addition to the twenty-four-hour grace period, Virgin American has both refundable and non-fundable ticket options. A refundable ticket will cost more but allows customers to cancel trip plans prior to the flight for either credit to be used towards future travel within the same year or in the original form of the payment. Non-refundable tickets, while cheaper to purchase, will be charged a change fee if canceled. However, if a customer does need to cancel a non-refundable ticket they will get a refund minus the change fee in the form of credit towards a future Virgin America flight to be used within the same year of the original flight scheduled. In the event that a flight is canceled by Virgin America, there is a significant delay, or a delay causes a customer to miss a connecting flight, both refundable and non-refundable tickets will be eligible for either a full refund or partial refund in the original form of payment.

If a bag becomes lost or is delayed upon returning to a customer in the first twenty-four-hours after a flight has landed, Virgin America compensates for reasonable expenses that result in the delay of the bag delivery. If a bag cannot be located after thirty days, Virgin America will refund any paid to transport the lost bag in the original form of payment.

All Virgin America aircrafts are fully equipped to help assist any passengers who are in need of special assistance during a flight. Virgin America staff does ask that requests for assistance are made at least forty-eight hours in advance to a flight so that proper accommodations can be made. Passengers who are flying with Virgin America who have a disability or require special assistance may board aircrafts an hour in advance to the public boarding time in order to best accommodate these individuals.

Most airline companies have rewards programs where customers can join for free and earn rewards points or miles that they can then use to purchase flight tickets through their airline. Virgin America has a rewards program called Elevate. This is a free program, and members can earn points easily through the system. The most popular way to earn rewards points is by purchasing airfare through Virgin America. Members are able to earn five points for every dollar spent towards airfare. This is not the only option to earn rewards points though, members can also earn points through partnering companies by purchasing rental cars, hotel stays, shopping, or through partnering credit card purchases. All of these earned points can then be used to purchase airfare through Virgin America, or for other reward options such as hotel stays, rental cars, or other retail products. As one of the most popular ways to use earned points, Virgin America’s Elevate members are able to purchase airfare for points earned as low as twenty-five hundred. Compared to other airline companies, this is a great benefit to members as they are able to use collected rewards sooner. Another benefit for members is that the Elevate program does not have any blackout dates. This means members can purchase tickets for flights at any time without any restrictions on holidays or popular flying dates. There are also no flight restrictions through Virgin America’s Elevate program. Members can enjoy any flight, at any time using their reward points. Earned points will never expire in the program as long as there is at least one instance of activity every eighteen months. Compared to other airline companies, this rewards program offers many benefits to its members such as no blackout dates or restrictions on flights. Many other companies in the industry have these restrictions which limit the benefits for their members. Virgin America’s Elevate rewards program is great for any frequent traveler.

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3 Virgin America Reviews

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    January 20th, 2016 Levittown, NY

    Horrible airline. They changed a flight going from Las Vegas to New York via San Francisco. They proceeded to lose luggage. Most of the items were paid with cash, therefore no receipts. Customer Service very unprofessional and unresponsive. Will never fly Virgin America, neither will family or friends.

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    July 8th, 2015 Forney, TX

    My first experience on Virgin America was excellent. The attendants were happy and very accommodating. My first experience with the on board computer that you order drinks, snacks on. Very efficient. I live in North Texas and would love to see Virgin America fly to Hawaii from here. Maybe in the future they will?

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    July 8th, 2015 Vashon, WA

    This airline is the best – unparallelled customer service! My son missed his flight, the last flight of the day, The counter staff had just left so he called customer service. They allowed him to fly standby on the first flight out in the morning and on his connecting flight no charge! I have never heard of an airline providing that type of service!

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