Virgin America Delays Main Cabin Select

Frequent Flier Programs, Technology, Virgin America

Hey, remember Virgin America’s Main Cabin Select? This was the plan to offer First Class amenities in the coach bulkhead and exit row seats for a little extra cash. Well, it appears that it’s been delayed due to technical difficulties.

The original plan was to have the seats go on sale on September 15. That didn’t happen. So, I Virgin America Main Cabin Select Delayedemailed Virgin America spokesperson Abby Lunardini (who, by the way, is very responsive and helpful), and she helped me get to the bottom of this. Apparently the program has been delayed because the airline is “in the middle of rolling out several new offerings on our booking site for guests, including the ability for Elevate members to redeem their points on-line.”

So, the good news is that EleVAte redemption is still coming in October. The bad news is that Main Cabin Select won’t be on sale until the week of October 6. I’m surprised that the airline would have announced such a firm date a couple months in advance if they didn’t have a very high confidence level that it would be ready. Then again, we know Virgin America has had IT issues before, so this could just be an extension of that. Either way, if you were foaming at the mouth waiting to book Main Cabin Select, you’ll have to wait a little longer, but EleVAte members can rejoice that they’ll be able to use their points soon.

[Original photo by howitz via Flickr]

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12 comments on “Virgin America Delays Main Cabin Select

  1. Zach – They’d said they were planning on it, but it’s been quiet for awhile. They move into their new gates in LA next month and they’ll have plenty more room here. I’m not sure what they’re waiting for, maybe gates in Chicago.

  2. Ah–one thing at a time for them, I guess. With family in Vegas, I’m always on either Southwest or UA to LAS and wouldn’t mind a more comfortable alternative (JetBlue is too expensive to LAS from ORD and isn’t terribly convenient, since you have to go through Long Beach). I wonder if VX will entertain Midway as an option in favor of ORD.

  3. Zach – My understanding is that they won’t consider Midway. I don’t have a link, but I can remember them being very clear that they want to only serve the primary airport in each market.

  4. VX has been pretty quiet lately. Are they ever going to codeshare with Virgin Atlantic? I wonder about how much cash they have left. They launched with 177.3 million and added 100 million last April. But I don’t see anyone giving them any more money right now. And if they couldn’t get their loads up at least into the 70% range during the summer, I think they’ll be done. They do have a top notch PR/marketing department, new planes, fantastic service and some pretty innovative ideas (RED, Main Cabin Select, eleVAte etc) but I think a depressed economy will finally spell VX’s downfall. Probably, VX will be particularly hard hit because the high end customer flying First is their most profitable customer. Recessions kill a lot of First class tickets. I wish they’d stay afloat because I love flying them but it doesn’t seem likely.

  5. Zach,
    I agree with you- they have a great product
    and a very expensive operation
    I love them as a consumer, would hate them as an analyst

    CF- how is an airline able to sell tickets for less than the cost of flying the consumer from A to B?

  6. C Alex – Well, that’s a tough question to answer, because there are all kinds of ways to determine the cost. You could argue that the aircraft is flying anyway, so if you sell one seat at $20, it only needs to cover the cost of gas and catering (if there is any). This probably deserves a much longer post so I can make more sense of this. I apologize that I can’t do it very well in a short space.

    But the reality is that we have no idea if Virgin America is making money or not. They’ve refused to release their data to the public through the DOT as they are required to do and they are fighting it in court right now. So until that gets filed, we just don’t know much.

  7. Well, just from eyeballing the ticket prices and assuming that last-minute tix are expensive where things are going well and cheap where it’s not, their transcon service to JFK is doing better than their service to IAD, SFO is working better for them than LAX, LAS is doing pretty good, and SEA has some issues.

    What I mean by “issues” is that I was able to purchase r/t tickets SEA-LAX for $150 on about 3 days notice, midweek or Saturdays- and I’ve been able to consistently do this through the summer. It’s great on keeping my travel expenses down, but I have a hard time buying that VX is making money on something where they sell me a ticket for less than the cost for the gas it would take me to DRIVE to LA- especially with oil hovering at around $100 a barrel.

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