Virgin America vs JetBlue – Which Airline is Better?

Virgin America vs JetBlue – Which Airline is Better?

Let’s be honest; travelling isn’t the fun part of the holiday. From remembering the right luggage to finding which terminal you need to be at – and not forgetting to somehow keep the kids entertained while you wait – it’s one stress you could do without. Unfortunately, if you want to reach these beautiful destinations and see more of the world, airplane travel is here to stay.

But travelling doesn’t have to be a complete chore. This review is dedicated to seeing which airline is best between Virgin America vs JetBlue. Both are well-known global airline brands who have carried thousands of passengers to states in America and beyond, and both have earned a name for themselves as being a reliable, trusted airline that are favored by many travelers.

But when it comes to both airlines, which one comes out on top? We’ve pitted the two side by side to get an accurate view of what’s good, what’s bad, and what real travelers think. If you’re planning your vacation this year but don’t know which airline to choose, read our handy comparison guide to find out which you should choose between Virgin America vs Jetblue.

The Main Differences Between The Virgin America and JetBlue

Both airlines have some clear similarities, but there are also plenty of differences too. This sets both airlines apart from each other to give their passengers a unique flight experience, from when they reach the airport until they get into the air. We’ve put these differences side by side so you can get a super clear idea of what to expect if you travel with either one.

  • You get free snacks and soft drinks with JetBlue flights, whereas these all incur an additional cost on Virgin America flights.
  • Entertainment is free with JetBlue and use standard TV screens. On Virgin America flights, you’ll need to pay to watch TV and films, and also download the Gogo Entertainment App before you fly. Virgin America does have a larger entertainment package, however.
  • JetBlue flights have more legroom than Virgin America.
  • JetBlue flights typically charge a $75-$150 cancellation fee, while Virgin America offers a no-show policy, where you can receive the value of your ticket as a credit to use later on.

Virgin America and JetBlue – Which airline should you use?

Perhaps you’ve heard of either Virgin America or JetBlue, or perhaps this guide is introducing you to a brand new airline. Whichever category you fall under, we’ve pulled together an extensive list of facts and figures about each one, as well as the various pros and cons each airline has to give you an in-depth and unbiased review. Hopefully by the end you’ll have a much clearer idea of which one will work for you.

Virgin America

Specializing in low-cost travel between cities on the West Coast, Virgin America operated between 2007 and 2018, but was recently incorporated into Alaska Airlines. The two airlines were granted a single operating certificate by the FAA in January 2018. Virgin America flies to destinations all over the United States, including Las Vegas, Seattle, Portland and San Diego, as well as longer haul flights to Costa Rica and Mexico.

Seats

Standard seats measure 31-32 inches and recline 3 inches as standard. You can also choose to upgrade to seats with more legroom, with seats measuring between 36-40 inches – giving you at least 4 inches extra seat room. And with premium class, you’ll get a seat measuring 35 inches. All seats on selected flights are now made from genuine leather, and there’s now more room in the seatback pocket to allow you to store your books, magazines and devices to give you a more relaxing flight.

Charges

When it comes to luggage, you’re allowed 1 carry-on bag plus 1 personal item like a purse, briefcase or laptop, for example. For checked baggage, it’s $30 for the first bag, $40 for the second and $100 for the third and additional bags. Always double check the amount of bags you’re allowed to take with you as during busy periods, they might restrict the amount of luggage you’re able to take.

If your bag is overweight and weighs between 51-100lbs, you’ll be charged an additional $100. Bags with a linear dimension of 63-115″ will also be charged $100. Both of these prices are pretty expensive, but they aim to try and keep passengers sticking to the baggage limits and dimensions.

Food and snacks aren’t free on Virgin America flights. Breakfast starts from $8.50 and include their signature fruit and cheese platter, as well as their breakfast sandwich and protein platter. Lunch and dinner are served on flights between 10am and 8pm. You can choose salads and sandwiches from $9.50. Snacks include popcorn, potato chips, trail mix and beef jerky, which you can purchase from $2.50. All are delicious options and not too expensive, but if you’ve forgotten to bring food with you or haven’t stocked up at the airport, this is your only option.

For pets travelling with you, it’s $100 whether they’re in the cabin or in baggage.

In-flight entertainment

Virgin America offers Gogo ATG4 basic inflight internet on most of their flights over North America, excluding flights to Mexico, Hawaii, and Costa Rica. This allows you to do all the things you’d normally do, like answering your emails, online shopping or browsing social media. Unfortunately Virgin America’s Q400 planes don’t provide a Wifi service.

Virgin America flights also offer free texting if you connect to one of their networks. It only works with iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, but you can download one of these apps before you fly so you have access to the service.

When it comes to in-flight entertainment, there are over 400 films and 200 TV shows to choose from. With their bespoke streaming system, Alaska Beyond™, you can also get these shows and films to your own device on most planes. You’ll have to pay for these on a pay-per-view basis though. On coast-to-coast and Hawaii flights, you can rent tablets that are pre-loaded with entertainment to make the time go quicker.

Features:

  • Carry-on bag dimensions are allowed to be up to 22” x 14” x 9”, including the wheels and handles.
  • The Gogo® Entertainment App allows you to stream Virgin America’s content to your own device if you download it before flying.
  • Free texting is available on flights with in-flight internet, and it’s completely free.
  • Baggage cannot exceed 100lbs or 115” linear dimensions.
  • You can join the Alaska mileage plan to earn bonus miles.
  • You can take pets in either the cabin or baggage, both of which cost $100.
  • Selected flights feature USB ports and power outlets so you can power your electrical devices or do work as you fly.

Pros:

  • Their in-flight entertainment packages include some of the newest releases in film and TV.
  • If you don’t collect your baggage within 20 minutes once you arrive, Virgin America will give you a $25 discount voucher, guaranteed.
  • There are self tag kiosks available at Virgin America airports to make tagging your luggage easy.
  • Their no-show-policy sets industry standards for flight cancellations.
  • Technology is a big feature in Virgin America planes and makes life much easier for those using electrical items.

Cons:

  • Wifi isn’t available on flights to Mexico, Hawaii, and Costa Rica.
  • In-flight Wifi isn’t available on Q400 flights, either.
  • Entertainment is charged using a pay-per-view system.
  • You need the Gogo Entertainment app to watch movies – remember to download it before you fly.
  • You’ll have to pay for food, drinks and snacks separately.

Travellers’ popular opinion on Virgin America

When it comes to traveling, passengers tend to have incredibly strong views depending on whether their experience with the airline was good or bad. We’ve taken a look at some real-life reviews to try and get an indication on what Virgin America’s passengers made of the flight and service.

  • One passenger enjoyed that there was plenty of space to stretch and move about. They found the in-flight entertainment and food ordering easy using the touchscreen.
  • Another traveler loved the friendly staff and fun yet professional crew.
  • Someone else loved the choice of high-quality movies during their flight.
  • Other passengers noted that their flights were cancelled with little reason, causing problems with their travel plans.

JetBlue

Beginning life at JFK in 1999, JetBlue is now an award-winning travel company that flies its passengers all over the world. They have over 230 aircrafts, including 57 A321s, 130 A320s and 60 E190s. Their A321s are their primary transcontinental planes, and are used for 13.5 hours a day. Similarly, the A320s are used for 12.8 hours a day. Unlike many of their competitor American airlines, JetBlue doesn’t run a Boeing fleet.

Seats

JetBlue prides itself on the comfort of its seats to give passengers the best in-flight experience. They use ergonomic seat supports, which adapts to your shape to help you feel relaxed and refreshed after a long flight. There are also moveable headrests that slide up, down and wrap around. This will allow you to mold the seat to suit you and your comfort needs, allowing you to sleep if you’d like to while you’re traveling to your destination.

Each seat comes with a drink holder too, plus a custom seat back holder. This is great for keeping things organized and keeping magazines, books or music devices close by without having to root through a bag. You can upgrade to “Even More Space” seats for an extra charge, giving you more legroom and comfort than standard seats.

Charges

Customers are allowed to bring one carry-on bag and one personal item on-board for free. After that, fees start being incurred for additional baggage. On average, it costs $35 for a second normal-sized bag and $100 for an overweight bag weighing around 51-70 pounds.

If you need to take three or more bags then you can for a fee of $100 per bag – unless you’re travelling to the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Port of Spain or Peru. This is because JetBlue only allows a maximum of two bags for passengers traveling to these destinations.

Traveling with a pet will cost $100, while taking surfboards, bicycles, windsurf boards and kitesurf boards is an additional $50. If you’re looking to order refreshments and food on-board, prices start at $7 for alcoholic drinks and $6 for meal boxes. Soft drinks, water and snacks are free, however. There are other little extras you can purchase too, including pillows, blankets and headsets for around $5 per item.

Finally, if you need to cancel your flight, you’ll be charged unless you purchased the “Super Flexible” option. While prices vary, it’s likely to cost between $75-$150. Before you fly, remember to double check the prices with JetBlue as they’re subject to change. The cancellation fee is high so you’ll want to avoid that if you’re able to.

In-flight entertainment

On a JetBlue flight, there are 36 channels of DIRECTV® and 100 channels of SiriusXM Radio® available for passengers to enjoy, ranging from classics to new releases on flights longer than two hours. Some of the newest aircraft uses touch screen TVs, which is a great added feature, but older JetBlue planes still load plenty of programs onto their schedule. This is a great benefit if you’re traveling with kids who are easily bored, or if you’re a nervous flyer and need the distraction.

Features:

  • JetBlue offers flights to 90+ destinations across the world.
  • There are plenty of fare options to choose from; Blue, Blue Plus, Blue Flex and Mint.
  • All flights come with free wi-fi (Fly-Fi), which is available on every seat and every plane.
  • There are also free snacks and drinks available for all passengers.
  • Entertainment is available on board to help make the journey go quicker.
  • JetBlue seats have up to 7” more legroom than other airlines.
  • Members of the military and veterans can receive discounts on their flights, as well as airport assistance if they need it.

Pros:

  • There’s above average legroom to make your journey much more comfortable.
  • It’s a pretty low cost way to travel.
  • You can earn points and redeem them the more you travel.
  • Its main hub is at JFK, which is one of the best and biggest airports in the world.
  • You get free access to DirecTV and SiriusXM through the seat’s TV screen.
  • Mint, their first-class service, offers great upgrades at a greatly reduced prices than competitors.

Cons:

  • JetBlue isn’t the best airline for traveling to larger cities; it mostly caters for passengers traveling to smaller places across America.
  • There’s no discount for customers paying for checked baggage at the time of booking or online before heading to the airport.
  • You must pay a $100 surcharge if traveling with a pet.

Travellers’ popular opinion on JetBlue

This time, we’ll look at some real-life reviews from JetBlue passengers using the airline for their trip to try and get a genuine look at what they liked and disliked about their travel experience.

  • One traveler raved that “the flight attendants are friendly and the pilots are good natured as well. They’ve always been on time for me (a huge feat for a U.S. airline) and because they are a lower cost airline, they have a great cost/product ratio”.
  • Another passenger loved the in-flight entertainment, but didn’t like the fact she was charged a cancellation fee.
  • Someone else said that they had never experienced a delayed flight with them and they offer complimentary snacks and beverages, which was well received.
  • Other passengers complained about not being told the right information whilst in the airport, and not receiving good customer service after being passed from person to person to deal with their query.

The Veredict

Realistically, it’s a pretty close call when it comes to which airline is better between JetBlue vs Virgin America. To take a more accurate look, we’ll take the three main points we looked into – seats, charges and entertainment –  and do an overview of each one in further detail.

Seats

Virgin America has recently upgraded their seats to offer more legroom, bigger pockets and premium leather construction. However, JetBlue’s seats maintains the most room of any U.S. airline based on average seat pitch – and you can’t argue with that statistic. They also pride themselves on using ergonomic support to give you a comfier experience, so JetBlue comes out on top.

Charges

This one is quite evenly matched as the charges from each airline are very similar. To take pets with you on your travels, it’s $100 for both airlines. Bags are similar too – it’s around $30 for an additional second bag and you’re capped at around 100 lbs of baggage weight.

However, where JetBlue edges it is when you get into the air. On most of their flights they offer free snacks and drinks. Virgin America don’t do the same – there is a charge for most of their extras, including basic snacks. This means that you get a more premium experience on a JetBlue flight for a much lesser price.

In-flight entertainment

While Virgin America offers more movies and shows than pretty much all other airlines (as well as all the best new releases), you have to pay for it on a pay-per-view basis. This means that on longer flights it can get quite expensive, and you may have to find other ways to keep yourself entertained. The app can also be a pro or con depending on which way you look at it. Some passengers might like being able to watch content on their own devices, while others may find it a hassle having to remember to download the app before they fly.

JetBlue’s in-flight entertainment package is very strong too, offering new shows and movies to keep you entertained for longer. They’re operated on standard behind-seat TVs, and are mostly free. For the limited hassle, JetBlue wins this one.

So there we have it…

While Virgin America utilizes strong technology, including entertainment apps and touchscreen TVs, JetBlue sweeps the board thanks to its attention to detail and better pricing options. Virgin America does have many positives – the biggest one being their no-show policy (which you can learn more about in our FAQs), but we’re giving JetBlue the win this time.

Frequently asked questions about Virgin American and JetBlue

“Does JetBlue have a rewards program?”

They do! It’s called TrueBlue, and by joining you can earn Award Travel, access special features on the website and be one of the first to find out about JetBlue’s great deals and news. You can join online – in fact it’s an exclusive online initiative and you must have a valid email address to be able to register.

You can earn points when booking your flight online. Enter your account information when you book or call one of their customer service representatives to help.

“How many airplanes does JetBlue have?”

Along with 60 Embraer 190 regional jets, JetBlue operates a fleet of 193 Airbus aircraft. These are models A320 and A321.

“How much legroom do you get in a JetBlue plane?”

Seats in coach come in between 32-33” and have an 18” seat width. Their roomiest seats are in rows 1 through 5, 10 and 11. According to JetBlue, their coach class maintains the most room of any U.S. airline based on average seat pitch.

“Does Virgin America have a rewards program?”

Virgin America offers the Mileage Plan™, which rewards frequent flyers travelling with Virgin America and their global airline partners to over 900 destinations around the world. Earn a mile with every mile you fly then use them to fund flights. You can also work your way towards Elite Status to unlock even more rewards and perks.

“What is Virgin America’s Gogo Entertainment App?”

Airbus 320, Vigin America, aircraft, jet, passenger transport, aerial, airliner, airline,

You need this app in order to be able to watch movies. While it’s available to download on loadplayer.com while you’re in the air, it’s easier to download it before you fly. Once downloaded, you’ll need to visit AlaskaWiFi.com or airbornemedia.gogoinflight.com/app, where you can choose a movie or TV show to watch.

“What is Virgin America’s no-show policy?”

To improve availability for last-minute customers, Virgin America operates a no-show policy. You can let them know if you’re not going to make your flight beforehand by cancelling online or getting in touch with one of the team. In return, you’ll receive the value of your ticket as credit to use on a future flight in your My Wallet.

Final Thoughts

We hope our guide has helped you get a clearer idea on what to expect with both Virgin America and JetBlue. As we’ve already mentioned, there are plenty of pros with both airlines, but ultimately the choice is 100% yours. We’d love to hear more from your vacation – get in touch to let us know how it went. All that’s left for us to say is have a safe flight and a great trip!

Further read:

Jodie Chiffey

Jodie is an avid traveler who loves camping and hiking. With over 10 years experience tackling some of the best mountain ranges in Europe and North America, she has now got her sight set on conquering Asia. Over the years, Jodie has worn and used her fair share of travel gear, giving her valuable insights as to what is worth taking when backpacking.