Virgin America’s Website (Finally)

Distribution, Virgin America

I know, I know. I promised a review of Virgin America’s website over a month ago, and I’m just now getting around to it. Sorry about that. But, better late than never . . . .

What do I think? Overall, the site is pretty good, but of course it’s not perfect. Today I’m focusing on the booking process. Let’s look at the home page first.

Just like Southwest originally did on their redesign, Virgin America does not make the reservation search accessible without clicking to open the window. Southwest ended up caving and defaulting to showing the search box, so I wonder if Virgin America will come to the same conclusion. The fewer clicks it takes to sell a ticket, the better.

After playing around for just a few seconds, it’s obvious that this site is Flash and Javascript-heavy, and that makes me nervous. Usually that means that someone thought it needed to be pretty without seriously considering functionality. In this case, the functionality is there, but there are some quirks.

The basic search is just as it should be . . . basic. I was a little annoyed to see that multi-city was limited to two segments (not very helpful). Everything else looks like any other search box except that they don’t give you a choice of class of service. That’s a good move. You can see why when you search for flights.

07_09_18 vxsite

They don’t let you pick your class of service because they display both First and Coach prices on the next page. Airlines always complain that air travel is a commodity and all people buy on is price and schedule. I’m convinced that a lot of that is because that’s exactly how the airlines sell their product (except for an increasing number of exceptions that have followed Air Canada’s lead). Virgin America is at least making a small attempt at upselling.

Strangely, the First class upgrade is their only real attempt at merchandising on the website. They do really like that one though, because if you choose coach, they try to upsell you again on the seat map. And when you get to the seat map, please make sure you choose your seats yourself. When I tried to let them choose my seats for me, it kept kicking me back to the home page where I had to start over. Grrrrr.

So, overall, the site is good. I’m surprised you can’t buy a meal beforehand or pay for excess baggage fees, but I’m sure they’ll add it over time. In the end, they give you a lot of information on the flight results page, and that’s the key to helping customers make the right decision.

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