Virgin America First Class

Apr 1, 2012
2012 / April 2012

Virgin America First Class

New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX)

On the Ground: I arrived at JFK International Airport with 90 minutes to spare before my transcontinental flight. I made my way to check-in, where there was no one in the first-class line. The people at the counter, however, were obviously in the wrong place and had their six bags spread across the premium check-in area. While they were delaying me, I appreciated the desk attendant’s patience with them. Eventually, they made their way to the correct line. The Virgin America staffer was friendly and talkative, and he had me on my way in minutes.

Pre-Flight: There is no Virgin America lounge at JFK, and I didn’t think to inquire further about lounge access. I learned after the fact that for a small fee I could have enjoyed the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse. Instead, I made my way through security and perused shops along the way. The gate area was crowded, but with dedicated boarding, I was on the plane quickly and settled in as other passengers boarded.

In-Flight: It is no surprise to anyone who knows me well that I hope to catch a glimpse of a celebrity on my trips to Los Angeles. I was not disappointed on my flight, as I was seated directly across the aisle from an Academy Award winner. I’ll be discreet and won’t reveal the person’s identity. And, no, I never worked up the nerve to initiate a conversation.

Once my excitement died down, I noticed the first-class cabin was full and the door was closing. For a JFK departure, we were off the ground quickly. Virgin America’s white leather seats have a 55-inch pitch and are quite comfortable. I was not looking to sleep but to relax, watch a movie and get some work done; so it did not faze me that the seats were not fully flat. The Red in-flight entertainment system was easy to use and loaded with options. I had just finished reading Water for Elephants and was pleased to find the movie offered on board. I also used the onboard WiFi, which was reasonably priced and easy to access. Two meal options were available — a chicken dish and mushroom ravioli. I was passenger seven of eight, and there was no chicken left when I ordered. As I’m not a fan of mushrooms; this was disappointing.

I had checked a bag because I had packed scissors and other supplies I didn’t feel like taking through security. While I disembarked and arrived at the luggage carousel in minutes, I waited a long time for my priority-tagged suitcase.

The Experience: Despite a few small setbacks, my first-class Virgin America flight was extremely enjoyable. Ditto for my return flight a few days later. I would certainly choose the carrier again on my next cross-country trip.

GT Checklist

  • Friendly and helpful agents
  • Priority-tagged bags
  • Priority boarding
  • Helpful and courteous in-flight staff
  • Pre-flight beverage service
  • Top-shelf wines and liquors

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