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Virgin America’s Main Cabin Select

I’ve got more to write about from NBTA (tomorrow I’ll feature the battle of the First Class suites), but today I’m going to take a break and talk about Virgin America’s latest. Though I was supposed to meet with Virgin America spokesperson Abby Lunardini at the show, she ended up not being able to make it because it was right after the earthquake and she got stuck at her hotel. Of course, that won’t stop me from talking about their news of the week.

Remember when I posted earlier this month that Virgin America was up to something with their premium coach seats (bulkhead and exit row)? Well, they’ve finally announced what they’re going to do, and um, it’s ok, I guess.

Please excuse my lack of enthusiasm here, but I thought it was going to be something really good. I thought that maybe they would add more First Class seats or possibly create an elite level of their frequent flier program. It was nothing so bold. Instead, they’ve just created Main Cabin Select. If you sit in the bulkhead or the exit rows, you’ll still get a regular coach seat with a little more legroom. But now you’ll also get First Class amenities – free movies and food, premium check-in, etc.
Virgin America Main Cabin Select
See? Not exactly a huge change. It’s effectively First Class service in a Coach seat. The question is now . . . how much will it cost? They didn’t announce that, but they did say that you can begin purchasing these on September 15 for flights beginning mid-October. Previously, you had to pay between $15 and $50 depending upon the length of the flight to sit in those seats.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think this is a bad idea. I’m just a little lukewarm because my expectations were higher. My guess is that people weren’t paying for the extra legroom before, so Virgin is trying to package things together to get people to find value in that offering. If this does that, then more power to them.

Possibly the more interesting news for Virgin America fliers came in this release about their Virgin Galactic partnership. No, that partnership isn’t very interesting, but it does say way at the bottom that “By Oct. 1, 2008, Elevate members will be able to begin redeeming points for Virgin America flights on-line.”

I’m happy to see that finally happen. The airline has been around for about a year now, and they’re only now getting around to defining the program. This should be good news for those of you who have been stockpiling flight credits with no place to use them.

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