Food and in-flight entertainment on Virgin America can add up

I know Grant has been keeping you well-informed about Virgin America’s services, but I figured I would share my fresh observations.

I flew Virgin America for the first time yesterday: from New York to San Francisco. What can I say. I was impressed. Brand new plane, pleasant staff, fairly comfy leather (or fake leather) seats…For a second, you almost forget how painful it is to travel by plane these days!

One of the things I have always loved about flying Virgin Atlantic (the international version of the airline) is their in-flight entertainment set up: private screens with lots of movies, music and games to choose from.

I was hoping Virgin America would do the same.

They do, but you have to pay for it. I don’t blame them. It’s a great idea to target a bunch of people bored to death. We’ll pay almost anything to make a few hours go by a little faster. Those in-flight magazines only go so far.

I was curious to find out how much everything costs once you board a Virgin America flight. Here is a short list:

  • Headphones are free
  • Listening to music and watching music videos is free
  • Movies go for $5-7 a piece (there are lots to choose from)
  • Most TV shows will set you back 99 cents an episode (again, lots to choose from)

There is no free food on board. That’s not entirely bad news. I actually like that concept.

  • You can choose from about 7 kinds of meals (sandwiches, wraps, salads) for approximately $8/piece
  • Snacks such are about $2/piece
  • Basic drinks are free – coffee, water, soda, etc.
  • You pay $5 for beer, wine, etc.

You order your food using the TV screen of Red, Virgin’s in-flight entertainment system. You can just make your order, swipe your credit card and a few moments later, a flight attendant shows up with your meal.

To summarize, my roundtrip ticket was about $500. (Yes, that’s what NYC-SFO flights go for these days) and I also spent an additional $15 in movies and food. I have to say, I like that some airlines are turning to the “pay as you go” model. I love being able to choose my own meal and entertainment and choose when I want to eat, watch movies or sleep. This has got to be the way to do it.