Virgin America is a Chic and Hip Budget Travel Option

A painless check-in, even with a cat

Virgin is known as the hip and cool alternative airline, but I wasn’t expecting the interior of the plane to look like it did. A male attendant with spiky hair and hipster glasses stood near the main entrance of the plane; his all-black attire reminded me of a bartender. The plane itself, lit with a dim glow from neon purple and blue lights, had a swanky nightclub feel to it. Lounge music playing overhead amplified that atmosphere.

When you’ve grown accustomed to boarding brightly lit planes, this may take awhile to adjust to, but it grows on you. That soothing and relaxing atmosphere they’re going for is achieved, and the friendly attendant who helped me when she saw me struggling to hold on to my cat bag and stow my other luggage, made it that much better. The flight safety video was also a fun watch – an energy-filled song and dance video led by former American Idol star Todrick Hall that had some passengers clapping when it was done.

Seat features are more than I’ve seen on other domestic flights, namely the personal entertainment screens on the back of every seat. Domestic economy flights never have this! It’s a full entertainment system with tv, movies, music, games, food and snacks for purchase and shopping. You have to pay to watch most movies, but the free satellite tv selection is decent enough to last a six-hour flight. I was a little amused to see that they had seat-to-seat chat features. Why would anyone want to randomly chat with strangers on a plane? You could also order food and drinks to be sent to other passengers. Then it dawned on me, that this might be fun for large groups travelling together.

I know some of ya’ll who’ve flown Virgin in the past may not be fond of the emphasis on purchasing in-flight food and entertainment, but they do offer enough freebies that I’m not complaining. The first round of complimentary soda, water and juices are handed out shortly after takeoff, and subsequent refills can be ordered through your personal entertainment system. They missed me in my window seat during that first drink service, but when I got the attendant’s attention (the friendly one from before,) she apologetically handed me two bottles of water. Well now, that’s good service!

And as for the cat, his good behaviour put all the babies on board that flight to shame. Not a peep, nothing at all from him the entire time, save for some anxious scrambling upon hearing the plane engine whirring and during takeoff. The only glitch was that his carrier wouldn’t fit under the seat. The soft case has wire frame to keep an upright shape to the bag and was at least 1.5 inches too tall to go under the seat. The attendant wasn’t too happy about him being behind my heels, but since the middle seat was empty I moved him over to that part of the floor, and everything worked out fine.

In all, flying with Virgin was very pleasant; an airline I’d definitely keep in mind for any future air travel.

(Updated 2018: Virgin America has now merged with Alaska Airlines.)

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