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Virgin America First Class: San Francisco to New York Roundtrip

Last month, I flew Virgin America First Class from San Francisco to New York and back. I’ve flown Virgin America economy class (or main cabin) dozens of times before and it’s the best domestic economy class product, in my opinion. Virgin America has a fare-based award program, meaning the cost of the ticket determines how many Elevate points you need to redeem for a flight. These rates are usually very reasonable and lower than standard award charts – except for first class awards. These can be outrageously high on Virgin America, but there is now a cheaper alternative: Using just 25,000 Alaska miles each way. So I decided to splurge a little and fly Virgin America First Class on both segments.

Virgin America First Class San Francisco to New York JFK

Virgin America’s First Class product isn’t as snazzy as JetBlue Mint – you get an old-school recliner style seat but hey, it’s white instead of blue/black, so that’s an upgrade (right?)! I was seated in the bulkhead (1F), with tons of extra legroom – though that’s certainly not going to be a problem anywhere in the First Class cabin.

Virgin America First Class Cabin San Francisco to New York

Virgin America First Class Cabin SFO to JFK Roundtrip

My flight to New York was at 11:00 PM, which meant pretty much the entire cabin fell asleep at take-off. Being, a night owl, I couldn’t sleep so I opted for a meal. The flight crew was really great during this flight and they should have been – I was basically their only passenger in the First Class Cabin.

Virgin America First Class Menu San Francisco to New York

Virgin America First Class Menu SFO to JFK

The menu listed just two options, so I got the half chicken salad sandwich and soup. The sandwich wasn’t as dry as it looks in the picture – I actually liked it. The kale soup on the other hand…tasted like kale. I like kale in my juice but in soup form it’s got an odd taste. 

Virgin America First Class Meal: Half chicken salad sandwich and kale soup served on flight from SFO to JFK

Virgin America First Class Meal: Half chicken salad sandwich and kale soup served

The cabin was ice cold, but the blanket was sufficient in keeping me warm. The seat wasn’t the most comfortable to sleep on. Not because it wasn’t a lie-flat, but because it fell just a bit short of being a proper angled-flat seat. If the footrest came up just an inch or two higher, it would have been really comfortable. I kind of felt like I was sliding off the seat constantly. 

Virgin America First Class Seat Reclined for Sleep

Virgin America First Class seat reclined for sleep

Virgin America First Class New York JFK to San Francisco

On the return flight from New York to San Francisco, I sat in the same exact seat as my previous flight. Except, this one was during the day so there were no uncomfortable sleep issues. The flight was full and shortly after take-off, the flight attendant distributed menus. On this flight, the menu was a bit more extensive. Since it was a __ flight, we had three entree options to choose from, along with an appetizer and dessert.

Virgin America First Class Menu New York to San Francisco

Virgin America First Class Menu JFK to SFO

Since bacon is off the table for me, I picked the gnocchi ricotta gorgonzola. The salad came first and it was fine. Nothing memorable. 

Virgin America First Class Tuscan Kale Salad on flight from New York to San Francisco

Virgin America First Class Meal: Tuscan Kale Salad on flight from JFK to SFO

The gnocchi on the other hand was terrible. Like, really frikin awful. Both the cheese and the accompanying vegetables had a really bad taste.

Virgin America First Class Dinner New York to San Francisco Gnocchi Ricotta Gorgonzola

Virgin America First Class Meal: Gnocchi Ricotta Gorgonzola

I was only too happy to pass the plate back to the flight attendant, who offered me coffee and tea with dessert. Thankfully, the flourless chocolate cake was decent. It tasted more like fudge than chocolate cake, but went very well with the delicious coffee.

Virgin America First Class Flourless Chocolate Cake Dessert New York to San Francisco

Virgin America First Class Dessert: Flourless Chocolate Cake

About two hours before landing, the flight attendant came around and offered everyone warm chocolate chip cookies, which was a nice touch. I opted for the snack basket, which was filled with salt chips, popcorn, and chocolate.

Virgin America First Class In-Flight Entertainment

I didn’t get around to checking out the In-flight Entertainment in First Class, but if it’s anything like their economy class, you won’t get bored. The IFE is located inside the armrest, along with the remote. 

Virgin America First Class IFE Remote JFK to SFO

Virgin America First Class IFE Remote JFK to SFO

Below the armrest you’ll find the seat controls that allow you to adjust the seat to a comfortable position.

Virgin America First Class Seat Controls JFK to SFO

Virgin America First Class Seat Controls JFK to SFO

Free Wifi for T-Mobile Customers

While I didn’t use wifi on the New York-bound segment, I did check it out on the return. As most of you know, T-mobile offers customers one hour of free in-flight wifi and this was no exception.

T-mobile free hour of in-flight wifi onboard Virgin America JFK to SFO

Free hour of in-flightwifi from T-Mobile on my Virgin America flight from New York to San Francisco

This was right around the time of the immigration fiasco, so I was able to stay up-to-date on that situation. What’s odd is that the even though the free wifi was restricted to 30 minutes, I was able to use it free of charge for the remainder of the flight! I couldn’t browse the web, but my social media apps continued to work and I was even able to send text messages. Seriously, if you don’t have T-Mobile yet, you need to switch.

Final Thoughts on Virgin America First Class

Flying Virgin America First Class between San Francisco and New York was an overall pleasant experience. In the future, however, I’d like to try out JetBlue Mint, as they offer a flatbed seat and better food (from what I’ve heard). I also don’t think it’s really necessary to fly Virgin America First Class on any flight shorter than 5 hours, since they have a very nice economy class product. I’ve flown it many times and it’s always been a great experience. 

Virgin America First Class Seat 1F Bulkhead New York to San Francisco

Virgin America First Class Seat 1F

Have you flown Virgin America First Class before? What are your thoughts on Virgin America’s first class product?

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Ariana Arghandewal

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