Any time an airline adds a benefit without taking one away, that’s cause for celebration. So in this case, hooray! Virgin America Elevate Gold members will now have unlimited free access to the Virgin America Loft at LAX. Here’s the text:
We have some great news. As an Elevate Gold member you now have unlimited complimentary access to the Virgin America Loft at LAX. Just show your boarding pass to enter. Plus, theres a fresh new menu with a host of tasty top-flight meals to enjoy, making it the best place to dine before your flight.
Come escape travel as usual.
What’s the downside? Well, let’s start with the major issue. They only have one lounge. And given that they’re technically a San Francisco headquartered airline, having the lounge at their second biggest hub, LAX, is less useful. The second downside is that they don’t seem to grant any companion access.
I status matched over to Virgin America Elevate Gold earlier this year, as I would get the status for all of 2015 and 2016, and I’ve been slowly moving some of my flying over to them. In order for me to fully commit, I really would need lounge access at SFO. If they had a lounge at SFO that was better than a United Club, but maybe not quite as nice as a Centurion Lounge, I might consider dropping my Amex Platinum card and just switching to Virgin America full time.
The other thing they need is companion entry. If I’m flying with my wife and child (coming in December!), they should both be able to come in with me as well.
Virgin America is onto something here. Their frequent flyer program and route network can’t compete with those of traditional carriers, but if they add value in other ways, they can continue to win over the younger market. There is some hidden value in their partner award charts as well. I recently booked a Singapore Airlines Business Class ticket with Virgin America miles.
If Virgin America could build a lounge in New York and San Francisco, and give complimentary access to their Elevate Gold members and First Class flyers, that’s a big plus in their favor. If they could establish some partnerships with contract lounges in other cities, then even better.
The bottom line is that Virgin America is improving their offering. They still have more work to do, though, and I think the next logical step is building a lounge at their hub airport and my home town, SFO.