Virgin America Main Cabin Select is an extremely comfortable way to fly. Every Virgin America route and plan offers Main Cabin Select. I was flying Virgin within California, a route I travel weekly.
Often times when flying intra-California routes for work I am posed with the dilemma of either connecting via LAX on a legacy carrier or breaking my alliance to American (formerly Delta) and fly direct on either Southwest and sometimes Virgin America. I will usually choose to connect when returning home, as I am in no rush. Although due to time constraints I regularly will fly direct when going to work. Despite this being my norm, a few months ago when returning home from the Bay Area, I had the opportunity to fly Virgin American Main Cabin Select direct to San Diego for the same price as Economy on a legacy carrier, either direct on United or with a connection at LAX on AA or Delta. Since I had only flown Virgin’s Premium Economy one other time from LAX to Seattle, before I started blogging, I saw this as a golden opportunity to review Virgin’s product.
Virgin America Main Cabin Select Check in
As usual I checked in via my smart phone app and used my mobile device to access my boarding pass. Not only is this fast and convenient, it reduces the need for paper and is more green-friendly. The check in process via the mobile web page was easy and I was even able to change my seat. I initially had been assigned a middle exit seat, but the window exit seat opened and I snagged it at check in. Even though the flight is short, if I could avoid the middle seat, I always try to!
Upon arriving at the airport, the economy check in line was quite long. It was a holiday weekend and it seemed like everyone was trying to get out of town. Thankfully, I was flying Main Cabin Select and was able to use the First Class check in line, which was completely empty. Within minutes I had checked my 2 bags, my first one was free of charge and my second bag was $25, which I had pre-paid via the mobile site. The check-in agent was pleasant with all smiles and marked my bags with priority luggage tags which would be useful upon landing at SAN. I thanked the agent and then headed towards security, which was a breeze thanks to TSA precheck.
Virgin America Main Cabin Select Boarding & Seat
Virgin America shares terminal 2 at SFO with American Airlines. Instead of hanging out in the gate area I passed the few minutes I had in the American Airlines Admiral club, thanks to my Citi Executive card with Admiral Club access. Virgin America does sell day passes to the Virgin Atlantic Club house, but the club is in a different terminal. The club house is buy in only. With the added cost, I had decided that using the AA club made more sense. I headed straight to the gate a few minutes before boarding, hoping to snap a few pictures of the plane before it filled up. I walked past most customers, using the priority boarding lane, reserved for first class, main cabin select, and Virgin Elite fliers and boarded the plane almost immediately. After finding my seat, the PTV with Virgin America’s signature “RED” IFE was already active, so I made myself comfortable for the short 1 hour and 30 minute flight to SAN and began playing with the IFE. During the boarding process, the preordered drinks and snacks I wanted: Snack box + 2 Acai liquors and soda water came. This way, not only was my option recorded, but I had dibbs on the items before the crew started inflight service.
Tons of leg room in the economy class row, look at this gentlemen sit with his leg cross and he was at least 6 feet tall when standing!
The Main Cabin Select seat on Virgin is actually just a typical economy class leather seat that has additional leg room. The seat itself is nothing special, but the extra 6-10 inches of leg room is a huge plus! Headphones are provided in the seatback pocket for use with RED for Premium economy passengers or are otherwise for sale before boarding the plane in the gate area.
Virgin America Main Cabin Select In-flight & IFE:
The flight to SAN is very short, but this did not keep the cabin crew from providing top notch service. Within 10 minutes of take off, the two FAs working the red cabin were in the aisles with their carts. They started service at the front of the cabin and worked their way to the rear. On other flights, I have seen the FAs serve those in Premium Economy their pre-ordered drinks/snacks first. On this flight this was not the case. It took the crew about 20 minutes to reach me. They just handed me my snacks and beverage choices, little interaction was necessary. This was nice as the crew was already aware of my order and I didn’t have to ask for anything! Thank you RED! The crew barely finished serving the entire cabin before we started our initial descent into San Diego.
The RED system is by far one of my favorite inflight entertainment systems. It’s intuitive, easy to use, and has everything to keep travelers entertained. Customers can watch Direct TV for free, order movies, watch HBO series or even shop the Virgin Store. There’s a moving inflight map sponsored by google and tons of games and music. Red keeps people of all ages and tastes entertained inflight. ALL movies are free for premium economy passengers along with snacks and alcohol!
Tip to travelers: You can preorder before flight with RED or during taxi/takeoff. The order function is disabled when the crew is in the aisle serving people. Food and the Acai liquor is very popular on Virgin. Order what you want early to ensure you get it before someone else gets it!
Overall, Virgin American Premium economy/Main Cabin Select is a nice way to fly. Perks include a free check-in bag, free snacks, free alcohol, and an unmatched IFE system. All of Virgin’s planes are equipped with in seat power and wifi making even long flight speed by. The trendy airlines really has an awesome niche. I would highly recommend flying any of Virgin’s three classes when flying the US and Mexico. Although their route map is small, this airline is one to consider as their planes are newish and fresh. Virgin America crews tend to be younger and hip as well. From the Virgin Safety Dance to landing in San Diego, this is one Virgin that knows what they are doing!