You said it: Virgin America is “thinking outside the box”

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By Christopher Elliott

I‘ve written about Virgin America several times in the recent past, and have even had a chance to fly with it.

Despite the occasional glitch, I think it would be fair to call me a fan of the airline.

I’m not alone. Here’s a note from reader Jeff Allen. He works for an engineering firm in Boston, and decided to give Virgin America a try for his weekly commutes to LAX. (Related: Flight attendant spills boiling water on my hand.)

“I fly a lot,” he says. “These folks at Virgin seem to have figured some stuff out that is really interesting.” (Here’s our guide to booking an airline ticket.)

He continues,

First, the aircraft are newer and seem to have a much better setup.

I have been traveling in their premium economy section and there is more than enough room. They have WiFi (been a big Delta fan for this for some time now) plus power. The former one is huge going west when the headwinds can cause that trip to be 6+ hours.

They also have their food and beverage service tied into the TV. You want a drink or something to snack on, just order it up on you own timeline. No more drink cart smashing into my knee of shoulder.

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The seats are just a tad wider also. I don’t know by how much but I don’t feel like I am wedged into them.

Check in had been a breeze and the website is very good. I have had to move flight time, cancel flights, and used canceled flight credits. My advocacy team and I have been able to do all of this without having to talk to an agent.

Unfortunately, I hate to even reveal this gem, as the flights are pretty full but I haven’t yet had to suffer a middle seat.

They do seem to be lacking a customer loyalty program. I don’t know if that’s good or bad these days. When I fly other airlines and they announce the “elite” boarding it seems that half the boarding area gets inline. At least the premium economy seats are limited to about 12 so when that is announced you still in a very short line.

Anyway, someone to keep and eye on. They seem to be thinking outside the box. I really think if more airline executives took a flight in their own coach section they may see how much of a difference a few inches or a smile does on a long journey.

Point of clarification: Virgin America actually has a loyalty program called Elevate. Thanks to reader Kara Jones for the catch.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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