Today Virgin America ceases to exist. The Richard Branson-inspired carrier has merged with Alaska Airlines and will be filed away in the history books like Continental, Northwest, and US Airways before it. Here’s a review of my final trip with Virgin America in May of 2015.
Virgin America had just started service from Washington National to Dallas Love and offered $169 introductory fares in first class. That itself was enticing, but the Virgin booking system also allowed departures from Washington Dulles. Since there were no non-stop flights from Dulles to Dallas, a connection in Los Angeles was required…at no extra cost.
So my flight scheduled ending up being:
Not bad for $169!
I live in LA and could have easily just hopped off in LA and still come out way ahead, but decided to continue on to Dallas…just so I had two flights to compare.
Boarding began 45 minutes before departure at IAD and a handful of employees were cleared into first class at the gate.
Flight 1: Washington Dulles to Los Angeles (A320)
The Virgin America planes have eight seats in first class in a 2-2 configuration. The white leather recliner seats have 55 inches of seat pitch, excellent recline and a footrest. It reminded me of an old international business class product.
A bottle of water was waiting at each first class seat.
FAs performed a manual safety demonstration and we departed on-time for LA.
After takeoff, a menu was distributed along with a hot towel.
Breakfast included a small quiche with green peppers and a side salad with sundried tomatoes. Also included: a small bread roll and fruit dish.
After breakfast I checked out the “Red” IFE, which contained an excellent selection of moves, Live TV, games, and a great library of music.
The headsets provides were flimsy: I was glad I brought my own.
I dozed for a while (no wi-fi), and woke up hungry.
Snacks were available in the galley:
But I was a bit hungrier and asked if I could buy the “gyro sandwich” from economy class. The FA immediately told me there would be no charge and told me he would prepare it for me in a few moments. It arrived plated:
And this sandwich has to be one of the best “BOB” meals I’ve ever had.
We landed on time in LA.
Layover in LA: Virgin Loft
During the layover in LA, I checked out the Virgin Loft in Terminal 3. Virgin/Alaska now operate out of Terminal 6 and the lounge is closed. Back then, it was available to first class passengers and Priority Pass members. It was a nice place to wait out for my connecting flight to Dallas.
Flight 2: Los Angeles to Dallas (A319)
The seat next to me, 2B, remained opened so I had both seats to myself.
Once again, a hot towel and bottle of water were provided.
Lunch was served after takeoff and was absolutely amazing. A nice salad with feta cheese and olives to start, followed by an amazingly spiced beef dish brimming with coriander.
Dessert, which had marshmallows, was something I should have passed on.
Overall, Virgin America certainly gave JetBlue MINT a run for the money in terms of best domestic food.
When Flight 1182 touched down in Newark this morning, Virgin America ceased to exist…in name at least. I was never a loyal Virgin America flyer or even fan, but I did have a number of pleasant trips with them over the years and will miss the innovative onboard cuisine and industry-leading “shorthaul” seat in first class.