Sunday, February 7, 2010

I (mostly) heart Virgin America

Even though I'm an Elevate member and we jumped on the VX bandwagon as SOON as they opened up shop in SFO, we haven't been on a Virgin America flight in almost a year. We have always had good luck with VX and even when things go wrong, they have been quick to fix it. And pleasant while they do it - versus snarky and bitchy like *some* airlines.

Things have changed a bit, and while I still love VX, they are now a couple of things I can complain about. Luggage (first bag) is $20 unless you are in First Class. An upgrade to first from main cabin was $60 a ticket for a flight from SFO to Las Vegas. I don't remember the upgrades being this much in the past - if memory serves, it was more like $30. However, if you factor in the free luggage check, that brings the first class upgrade to really about $40. Still not thrilling, in my opinion. We gave it go on the way out and the check-in system failed me. I upgraded, picked seats next to each other, then when I checked in I found we had been separated. Given their stellar customer service in the past, I figured I'd just call and sort it out.

Whoa - big fail coming!! I was given pleasant tone of voice, but a no-can-do attitude. No moving of seats, sorry, nothing can be done. O-K. Please put me back in main cabin again. Again: big fail. I was informed I would have to pay the difference in what I originally paid for the ticket and the ticket price currently. WHAT?? Are you SERIOUS??

Needless to say, this really pissed me off. So I decided I would deal with it at the airport. We get there early and when we finally wandered over to the gate, the plane was already boarding. Our tickets said boarding time of 11:40am, but at 11:35am they were already onto group C for boarding. Uh.....

We get on the plane and ask the two ladies sitting in 2C and 2D if one of them would like a window seat so my husband and I could sit together. Attitude. Major attitude (this is clearly not a VX problem). C'mon ladies! It is First Class! You have ass-loads of room no matter where you sit. Do you really need to cop so much attitude? I even asked NICELY. The lady in 2D grudgingly agreed to move and I thanked her sincerely - but for real? Was it that much hardship? I get it in economy and main cabin - if you want an aisle, you need an aisle. Window seats are cramped and don't get me started on middle seats. But in First Class does it really matter that much?

And now, I'm sitting here enjoying my free champagne and Chex Mix, with a nice footrest, a pillow and blanket. Free headphones and Wi-Fi access for $5.95 on this flight. Our flight staff have been pretty darn funny this morning and when the lead goofed up the announcements he just owned up to it and had a sense of humor.

So, Virgin use to be an A+ in my book and right now I'd put them at a B+. Check-in was still easy, staff are pleasant and have a sense of humor. The planes totally rock and are clean and NEW. But they are growing up and having to cope with the economy and have made changes (like baggage fees - grrrr) and changes in fares and upgrades. However, in a world where most airlines score, at best, a D+ in my book, they still stand out above other airlines!

Happy Travels!

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