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Jan
29

Virgin Premium—Is it really worth it?

Stop sending me emails, inundating my inbox with tears. I am back. Yes, I was away for a week, BUT I was careful to give you a whole bunch of cool places to keep in mind when you’re dying to jump ship—and I’m not talking the Costa Concordia here.

Anyway, I was away sampling good old Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy on my way to New York City where the hubby and I got away for a few days without the children.

Virgin America

Virgin America

I was excited to try Virgin Premium—my husband, who flies almost every other week—swears by it. We also mention it a lot here at Best Travel, so what better way to get the real deal on it than by sitting in it.

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First things first:

virgin-america media consoles rock

virgin-america media consoles rock

The media in Virgin is great. You have TV, live TV, so as we were taxing out of LA after leaving on time and checking in in minutes, we could watch the inauguration live on CNN. That was pretty cool. It made flying seem as though we were not really leaving the ground, that there was no disconnect. Remember the old days— you literally felt cut off from the world. Nowadays, people are watching CNN or NBC, they’re shifting through their favorite HBO series or logging onto their email. It’s pretty cool, very functional and makes me see that so many people really fly like I drive. I know you’d think I’d know this because I write for travel, but it’s different to see it.

In PE, movies are free, so are headphones, so is the food. And speaking of food, my husband advised me it was really good so I should order as much as I could possibly eat because it goes fast.

You order it on demand too, like the movies which is really cool. As soon as the plane takes off, you tap the touchscreen for food and then choose what you want. It’s totally revolutionary and makes me wonder (with resentment) why all planes could adopt this method. There are choices for children—peanut  butter and jelly, or fun snacks with pirates booty and cheese slices.

drinks at a touch

drinks at a touch

There are protein meals, salads, wraps with feta cheese and veggies for vegetarians that, believe it or not, aren’t soggy. There are great baked potato chips, vegan fruit and nut snacks that were so good I ate four packs of them. Healthy turkey jerky, fruit…there are cookies, tea and coffee  all on demand. Which means whenever you’re hungry you tap on the screen order (if you’re in economy you slide your card) and the food comes within minutes. In economy, a sandwich runs about $8, chips $3 and cookies $4 so it’s about $15 a head.

Virgin-America food boxes

Virgin-America food boxes

Premium Economy the movies are free, in economy they’re $8 and you have to rent headphones for $2. Both of which I found ridiculous. The movies they had weren’t ripped from the theater new, nor was the selection that great. And $8 for a video is way too much. Also it’s $25 per bag. This also pisses a lot of people off. In PE bags are free.

Let’s talk seats. PE in Virgin is basically the bulkhead seats that’s it. You know the emergency row you always hope to get in economy when you have young children with you. There are only two rows too, so the seats sell very quickly.

Virgin America bulkhead

Virgin America bulkhead

On the way there, I must say the overall experience of flying Virgin PE was pretty awesome. I stuffed my face with free food while watching Obama take the oath and people comment on her dress. I got to see them dance the night away and I got to do it thousands of feet in the air.

Now, on the way back, my husband couldn’t get two seats in PE, so I got the aisle in economy and he got a middle seat in PE, of course, right?

Anyways, during the flight we exchanged notes:

My husband felt hot and cramped. The air was super stuffy. The stewardess explained that over the engine, the plane gets very hot. Nothing they could do about it.

I was in the back, had an empty seat between myself and another very quiet passenger. Zero air problems, close to the bathroom so I never had to wait. I chose to work on my computer or watch a little news or check in with some of Bravo’s Real Housewives (incidently the Real Housewives of New Jersey and Alec Baldwin were on my flight) which you can listen to at no cost. I bought the food for $15 or so and could not have been happier. My husband paced back and forth, complaining about how long the flight was. Yes, it’s longer going west.

economy not much different

economy not much different

When we got off the plane I wondered about the cost difference and knew that if it was a lot I could see no reason to book the PE, as the seats were really not that much different, the service and food are the same and the movies too.

$400 vs. $1000 I am so not kidding. But they call it main cabin select. See on Virgin there are 3 cabin choices: Main cabin, select and first. The differences between the three are astounding and to be honest do not merit the price.

Overall the food, service and media on Virgin is so much better than on any other US domestic airline that even with economy you’re world above the rest. You don’t need to pay double economy for a free movie, that’s for sure. And judging from the chatter, most people agree.

Do you like being the first to know?

If you enjoy always getting the best tips, deals and insider news before everyone else then make sure to visit www.fareboom.com and follow us on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

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