Review: Virgin America A320, San Francisco – Seattle

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Virgin America was the boutique airline offering in the United States operating select West Coast routes for those seeking an alternative to the mainline carriers. Virgin America offered all leather seating, in seat back entertainment and white first class seats. Before they were purchased by Alaska Airlines, we had the opportunity to test our Virgin America on a short hop from San Francisco to Seattle.


This post is one chapter on our trip to Mexico City, Mexico and Easter Island, Chile. This trip was enhanced through Alaska Mileage Plan and through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: Virgin America A320, San Francisco International Airport – Seattle Tacoma International Airport


We arrived into San Francisco International Airport on Alaska Airlines First Class Mexico – San Francisco. We changed terminals and headed over to our departure date. At the gate, at boarding time, there was a gate announcement that there is a United plane at our gate and as a result the arriving Virgin aircraft can’t get to the stand. This was eventually sorted out after 15 minutes and a quick groom of the aircraft.

Virgin America
Economy Class (U)
SFO-SEA (San Francisco Terminal 2 – Sea Tac Airport)
VX 1635
Oct 18, 2017
Booked: Airbus 320
Flown: Airbus 320
Departure: 7:50 PM
Arrival: 9:50 PM

On Board Virgin America:

When it came time, we wandered on board. There was a small first class section of 2-2 of 2 rows. We wandered to our assigned row 19 D/E. MrsWT73 announcing to me: “What are you doing- I don’t travel in rows lower than 12.” LOL. I was unable to get a Main Cabin Select upgrade. I called the call center who indicated that MVP levels were not able to be upgraded. Rightly or wrongly, I did’t follow up due to a lack of time and by the time we got to the check in counter after our earlier flight, it was pretty much too late. Coming back to the seat itself, it’s a pretty compact and feels tighter than the similar Alaska seats.

Virgin America All Leather Seating
Virgin America Economy Class
Virgin America Narrow Body Cabin
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In Flight Entertainment:

One advantage that Virgin America has over Alaska are the in seat back monitors. The Virgin entertainment system “Red” offers “now free” movies and satellite television. I personally prefer it to using a tablet (which I don’t happen to own) or a smart phone to stream video content. There is a remote available in the arm rest, but it was pretty much easier to use the touch screen to navigate around.

Virgin America “Red” Entertainment System
On Board Virgin America

Coupled with the arrival to the stand delay, we had further delays departing SFO. There were no announcements made as to why. I thought we might be waiting for other passengers but we just sat at the gate with the door open for about 30 minutes. I was pretty tired so I slept through the beverage service. MrsWT73 had a Sprite. We didn’t use the in seat ordering for food.

We had an easy arrival to Seattle, arriving to the D gates. The pilot looked pretty drunk or lost considering this arrival flight path. Ha Ha.

Are we Driving this Straight?

Unfortunately, thanks to head winds, we didn’t make up much time getting to Seattle. Our 70 minute connection was down to 20 minutes as we pulled onto the stand a full 56 mins late.

My Thoughts on Virgin America:

Overall, I enjoyed the Virgin America experience. The snazzy planes along with the in seat entertainment were a refreshing change from the usual somewhat boring legacy carriers. Unfortunately, I had to manually request the Alaska mileage plan miles earned for this flight since it didn’t credit automatically. Aside from that, it was a great experience.


If you rode Virgin America in the day, did you prefer it over the other main line carriers ?

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