The Virgin America Loft will be closing when Virgin America vacates terminal 3 at LAX and co-locates with Alaska Airlines in Terminal 6 this May. The move is part of the largest aviation shuffle in history as Delta moves to terminal 2 and 3. All airlines affected by the move will relocate between May 12 & 16, 2017. The loss of the Virgin America Loft reduces the number of Priority Pass lounge at LAX and it is also could be blow to Virgin America flyers. No Loft potentially means no free or discounted access to a swanky lounge.
Virgin America on the Move
The reorganization at LAX requires that nearly one-third of LAX 70 airlines change terminals to accommodate the Delta Air Lines move. Virgin America will move terminals on the night of May 12, beginning operations in Terminal 6 on May 13, 2017. By moving to terminal 6, Alaska Airlines and Virgin America will be able to seamless connect passengers between the two airline networks.
Alaska and Virgin America will be able to connect passengers throughout North America more easily than they do now at LAX. Current connections between Alaska Airlines and Virgin requires a bus transfer between terminals or a long walk and re-clearing security. As Alaska and Virgin serve over 35 destinations from LAX, this move will ensure a better passenger transfer experience.
Lounge Access for Virgin America Guests & Elites
The big news here though is what will happen to Virgin America’s First Class and Gold Elite customers. Currently, Virgin America offers complimentary lounge access at the Loft to First and Gold Elite customers. Silver Elites can buy a day pass for $15. Each guest of an elite passenger is also $15. Single use day passes are available to all other passengers for $30. $30 is very cheap for lounge access, and is among the cheapest buy-in rate I have seen for a lounge. Most airlines charge $50 for a day pass or more.
After the move, thankfully most of these policies will actually stay in place! Virgin America has confirmed with me that Elites and First Class customers will enjoy the same treatment at the Alaska Lounge as they receive at the Loft.
“Although the move will result in closing Virgin America’s Loft (which will take place on May 10), Virgin America guests will still have access to the Alaska Lounge in T6, as follows:
- First Class guests and Elevate Gold members will have complimentary access and reduced companion access ($15) to the Alaska Lounge in T6 through 2017.
- Elevate Silver members will also be granted access at a reduced rate ($15) and companion access (also $15) through 2017.
Virgin America guests can purchase Loft passes on the day of travel only (and valid for day of travel only), so they will not be transferable to Alaska’s lounge for that reason.
Beginning in 2018, Virgin America guests will be invited to become an Alaska Lounge member.”
The closure of the Loft is bad news, but at least Virgin’s guests will be able to use the Alaska Lounge. Do note that the Loft is closing May 10, two days before Virgin America actually moves! If you’re traveling through LAX on May 11 or 12, be prepared for limited lounge access.
Thoughts on Closure
The loss of another lounge at LAX is never good. The additional Virgin passengers at the small Alaska Lounge in Los Angeles will make the area cramped. I imagine that with the reorganization at LAX, Priority Pass and Lounge Club members will be the biggest losers. Alaska has been limiting Priority Pass access in Seattle lately due to overcrowding. It is likely they will do the same at LAX after Virgin relocates. There is a plan for an expanded club at LAX, but that lounge is not expected until late 2018.
Virgin America customers are not really losing anything in this move as Terminal 6 at LAX is much nicer than terminal 3. Alaska Airlines spent millions of dollars in 2011/2012 renovating the terminal. In the process they also built a new LEED certified Alaska lounge. The only difference is the lounge style and what is available to eat and drink.
The Alaska Lounge at LAX is more traditional and homely whereas Virgin America’s Loft is swanky and stylish. It is sad to see this lounge go, but on the bright side is no one is losing lounge access. (Although Priority Pass holders might.) Day passes will increase in price by $15 from $30 to $45, but lounge access will also expand. An Alaska Airlines day pass allows access to multiple lounges on the same day. A Virgin America customer is flying LAX-SEA-XXX can pay $15 more and access lounges in both Los Angeles and Seattle on the same day of travel. Overall this is a win-win.
What are your thoughts on the move and closure of The Loft? Do you biggest losers will be Priority Pass holders or Virgin America Guests?