Virgin America Airline Review and Travel Tips
California-based Virgin America has offered low-fares since August 2007. The airline has a fleet size of 60 and provides services to more than 20 destinations, including Boston, Cancun, Fort Lauderdale, Honolulu, Las Vegas, New York City, Washington D.C., and Orlando.
Virgin America has one main hub and a secondary hub:
- San Francisco, California - SFO (main)
- Los Angeles, California - LAX (secondary)
Save money with Virgin America flight deals
It doesn’t matter if you're traveling for work or play, you want the lowest possible fare. The less you spend on airfare, the more you can spend at your destination. The good news is that Virgin America has affordable fares to many hotspots. You can find low-cost destination deals starting at $89.
Join Virgin America’s frequent flyer program
If you fly often, it only makes sense to join a frequent flyer program and earn reward points toward future travel. Virgin America’s Elevate program makes it easy to track your flights and earn reward points.
Elevate is free to join and anyone can become a member. To get started, visit Virgin America's website and complete the signup form.
1. Earning Elevate reward points
Once enrolled, you can earn five points for every $1 you spend on base fare for a Virgin America flight. Simply log into your Elevate account to search flights, and add your Elevate member number at booking to receive credit. If you forget to include your number when booking a flight, go back into your account and retrieve your booking information, and then add your frequent flyer number.
As a bonus, this program even lets you earn points for flights you’ve already taken. You can request credit up to 12 months after a flight, as long as the flight wasn’t more than 30 days before your date of enrollment.
You can also earn reward points through Virgin America partners, which includes airlines, car rental companies, hotels, retailers and other loyalty programs. For example, you can earn one point per $1 spent on Airbnb when you book through Virgin America. And if you book an Avis car rental through Virgin America, you can earn three points per $1 spent and 35% off. Other Virgin America partners include:
- Score big
As with any frequent flyer program, you're rewarded for loyalty. So the more flights you book, the better your status. You can reach Elevate Silver status after earning 20,000 status points or 15 status segments, and Elevate Gold status after earning 50,000 status points or 30 status segments.
Benefits of Elevate Silver status include:
- Access to better seats on your flights
- Receive 50% off a day pass to the Virgin America Loft at LAX
- Earn 50% bonus reward points whenever you fly Virgin America
- Access to the First Class check-in line
- Priority boarding
- Get a free checked bag with priority baggage handling
- Receive 25% off a non-refundable main cabin ticket
- Enjoy fast service by phone, email or live chat
- Receive exclusive deals and promotions from Elevate partners
Benefits of Elevate Gold status also include better seat options, First Class check-in, priority boarding, and exclusive deals and promotions from Elevate partners. In addition:
- Earn 140% bonus reward points whenever you fly Virgin America
- Get up to three free checked bags with priority baggage handling
- Receive 25% off a non-refundable main cabin ticket
2. Redeeming Elevate reward points
To redeem your Elevate reward points, sign into your Elevate account to check your balance and select a destination. You can use the point calculator to determine whether you have enough points for a particular flight.
The advantage is that there are no blackout dates and points never expire as long as there’s activity on your account at least every 18 months. As a bonus, you can buy points for 5.2 cents per point, gift points, and transfer points. Points can be purchased in increments of 500, and you can buy up to 20,000 points per the calendar year.
You can gift up to 20,000 points per calendar, and transfer up to 30,000 points per the calendar year from or to a partnered rewards program.
Earn points with a Virgin America credit card
Booking a flight isn't the only way to earn reward points with Virgin America. You can also earn points by signing up for one of Virgin America’s Visa Signature® credit cards.
1. Virgin America Visa Signature® card
Sign up for this card and receive 10,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days. This is the equivalent of $200 in reward flights. As a cardmember, you also receive priority boarding, one free checked bag for you and a companion, plus $150 off a companion ticket every year. Earn eight points per every $1 spent on Virgin America flights and one point per $1 on all other purchases. There is a $49 annual fee.
2. Virgin America Premium Signature® Card
Apply for this card and earn 15,000 bonus points after $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days—the equivalent of $300 in reward flights. This card lets you change or cancel a non-refundable Virgin America flight with no penalty. And as a cardmember, you pay no foreign transaction fee and receive 15,000 status points every year. You’ll earn eight points per every $1 spent on Virgin America flights and one point per $1 on all other purchases. Other card benefits include priority board, one free checked bag for you and your companion, and $150 off a companion ticket every year. There is a $149 annual fee.
Virgin American airline baggage fees
Just about every airline charges for checked baggage, and Virgin America is no exception. The good news is that the airline’s baggage fees are reasonable and competitive, plus there are ways to avoid the fee.
While some airlines only allow passengers to check two or three bags, Virgin America allows its passengers to check up to 10 bags. Main cabin guests pay $25 per checked bag, regardless of the number of checked bags. This is much cheaper than some airlines, which charge $25 for the first checked bag and $35 for a second and third checked bag.
Passengers who purchase a fully refundable main cabin or main cabin select ticket can check their first bag free and pay $25 per bag for bags two through 10.
First class passengers can check up to two bags free, and then pay $25 per bag for bags three through 10. All passengers are allowed to bring one carry-on and one personal item onboard free.
Chill and relax in Virgin America’s accessible airport lounges
Virgin America can turn a layover into a pleasurable treat. The airline has four lounges in select cities: Virgin America Loft at LAX, and the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses in New York, San Francisco, and Washington DC. Amenities include sleek designer interiors, light snacks, full meals, complimentary cocktails, and Wi-Fi. Hours and prices for day passes vary by location:
1.Virgin America Loft at LAX
Lounge opens from 6:00 AM to 11:30 PM. Access is available to passengers flying Virgin America and Virgin America partner airlines for $30. Elevate Silver members can access the lounge for $15 and Elevate Gold members receive a complimentary pass.
2. Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at San Francisco
Lounge hours vary by day and season, but typically open from 2:00 PM to 8:30 PM. Access is available to Virgin America Elevate members, first class, and main cabin select passengers for $40.
3. Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at JFK
Lounge opens from 2:30 PM to 9:00 PM and is available to Virgin America first class, main cabin select passengers, and Elevate Gold members at a price of $75 for adults and $40 for children ages 5 to 12.
4. Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at Dulles
Lounge opens from 3:00 PM to 10:30 PM and is available to Virgin America first class and main cabin select passengers for $45.
Lounge fees with Virgin America are relatively inexpensive compared to other airlines. American Airlines charges $50 for an Admirals Club one-day pass and Delta charges $59.99 for a one-day Delta Sky Club pass.
Tips when flying and using Virgin America’s credit cards
There are restrictions when traveling with pets
Virgin America is a pet-friendly airline, but the company doesn’t allow animals to fly as cargo or checked baggage. Dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old to fly in the main cabin, and there’s a $100 pet fee each way.
Bring a credit card for in-flight purchases
If you plan to make an in-flight purchase, make sure you bring a credit card (preferably a travel credit card) because Virgin America doesn’t accept cash on board. Acceptable credit cards include Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and JCB. Pay for RED in-flight purchases with your Virgin America Visa Signature and get 20% off.
Plan ahead if you have special dietary needs
Virgin America offers light snacks on all flights, and meals on flights over two hours. If you have special dietary needs, you can preview the airline’s menu online under the “Flying With Us” section.
Virgin America ratings compared to other airlines
2015 Airline Scorecard (WSJ)
|Rank||Overall||On-time arrivals||Canceled flights||Extreme delays||2-hour tarmac delays||Mishandled baggage||Involuntary bumping||Complaints|
|1||Alaska Airlines||Alaska||Frontier||Alaska||Alaska||Virgin America||JetBlue||Alaska|
|2||Virgin America||Delta||Virgin America||Delta||Southwest||JetBlue||Virgin America||Southwest|
|3||Delta Airlines||Southwest||Alaska||Southwest||Virgin America||Delta||Delta||Delta|
|4||Southwest Airlines||Virgin America||Southwest||Virgin America||Delta||Spirit||Spirit||JetBlue|
|5||JetBlue Airways||JetBlue||Delta||American||Frontier||Frontier||Alaska||Virgin America|