Virgin America Flight 23, New York to San Francisco Review

By Jonathan Spira on 5 September 2010
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Terminal 4 at New York’s JFK International Airport is the home to 40 airlines.  Over nine million passengers come through its portals each year, yet the terminal itself is spacious and airy and, most importantly, easy to navigate.

Virgin America’s check-in desk is tucked away in a corner past the main check-in area (memo to Virgin America, please install a bigger sign).  There is a dedicated line for First Class and Main Cabin Select passengers and, with two people ahead of me, I only had to wait a few minutes until I reached the check-in counter and received my boarding pass from a friendly and welcoming agent who moved me from a middle to a window seat.

Virgin uses the Concourse B gates and, thanks to a priority line for premium clas passengers,  there was almost no wait at security so I was at the departure gate in almost no time at all.  The priority line does not feed into a dedicated lane but it does speed things up.


Boarding was accomplished quickly and efficiently and I was surprised to find out what I had the entire Main Cabin Select row on my side of the aircraft to myself. There are dedicated overhead bins for Main Cabin Select.   The cabin crew was very welcoming and friendly.

Upon boarding one immediately notices how different Virgin America’s aircraft interior is.  The cabin was softly bathed in purple and pink and this seemed to have a very relaxing effect on passengers and cabin crew alike.  Although there were many white surfaces, it was all very subdued and exuded the feeling of entering a rather fashionable restaurant or shop rather than an aircraft. No pre-departure drinks were offered.


Main Cabin Select is right behind first class and the 19.7”-wide seats in Main Cabin Select are the same that are used in coach.  The big difference is the 38” seat pitch in Main Cabin Select.

The seats themselves were quite comfortable and the extra legroom added to the comfort.

There were two 110-volt electrical outlines for every three seats, a ratio that should be more than sufficient in most cases.

Virgin America sells all six seats (i.e. one row) in Main Cabin Select but it would have been fairly crowded had all six seats been occupied.  If Virgin really wants this to be a premium product, the company should consider blocking the middle seat, to further differentiate it from coach.

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