Before heading to Austin, Texas for SXSW last year, I took a few days to explore Dallas. Flying out from LAX after landing on an early weekday morning from a long-haul flight out of Sydney, I was able to test out Virgin America‘s domestic flight service for the first time!
Airline: Virgin America
Route: Virgin America to Dallas
Seat: 11F (Window)
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Class: Main Cabin (Economy)
Flight Time: 2 Hours 30 Minutes
On Schedule? Yes
Frequent Flyer Program: Virgin Velocity
Lounge Access: The Loft, LAX (Virgin Lounge)
Web Check-In? Yes
Mobile Check-In? Yes
Points and Status Credits Earned: Yes
Meal Service: Drinks and snacks are available ‘on demand’, with soft drinks, juice, water and coffee/tea options offered early in the flight. The menu of drinks and food are extensive, as it is with most Virgin affiliated carriers, so you feel very much taken care.
In-Flight Entertainment: As with Virgin Australia flights, the in-flight entertainment system is rather good. There is a decent movie, TV and music video selection – ranging from classics to recent releases. Games are also available through their consoles so kids aren’t left with nothing to do mid-flight too. In-flight wi-fi is available (although I didn’t use it on this occasion) to use, offering passengers the opportunity to stay connected no matter how long the trip is.
Comfort: Being an avid flyer of the Virgin Australia fleet back home, the comfort level of the Virgin America plane is pretty standard. The Airbus is spacious in the main cabin and the check-in process at the Virgin America terminal was easy and effortless.
Flight Experience: The flight itself was fairly standard for one of that duration – bumpy to begin with, but leveled out decently. The seats on the plane were comfortable, though as it was a full flight, the Main Cabin area did feel slightly cramped by the second hour. On a lunch time flight, there were rows on the plane that hadn’t yet been cleaned out properly and there were wrappers and bits of food crushed into the carpet from the previous flight – this was the only real downside I noticed.
Customer Service: Admittedly, I was battling the early stages of a cold during the flight, so I was happy to get a window seat, where I could fall asleep against the window without much effort. There were some flight attendants who noticed me obviously not looking too well and were attentive throughout the flight, which was nice to know as a passenger. The flight was packed with people of all kinds; there were families, business people and solo travellers making the commute. While there were some flight attendants who went above and beyond to make sure children were entertained (or at least kept occupied), I did find a select few to come off as slightly abrasive and short to deal with. In general however, the customer service I received was satisfactory.
Baggage: If you purchase a Main Cabin Economy ticket, complimentary baggage is not included, so expect to fork out USD$25 per bag. It’s an easy process to sort however, and you can pay by card via the self-serve check in terminal. Express seats are available for purchase – they cost USD$30.
Hot Tip #1: Keep an eye on the upgrades available to you, they can prove to be a good investment for some of the longer US domestic routes. You can upgrade to a Main Cabin Select seat up to 24 hours before departure, or to First Class up to 6 hours before departure. The Airbus is quite a roomy plane as it is and you can definitely tell the ‘level up’ nature of each of the higher classes as you board. Why not treat yo’ self?
Hot Tip #2: If you are travelling from Australia and you are a Velocity member, ensure that you enter your details when you check in, at the very latest. You can score some sweet Velocity points as international partners (not to mention your membership will get you access to The Loft, Virgin America’s airport lounge).
The writer travelled at their own expense. Photo from Planespotters.net