Flight test: Virgin America economy class

Aircraft Virgin America Airbus A319.

Route Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale.

Class Economy, seat 14B.

Seat configuration 3-3.

Seat pitch and width 33-inch seat pitch, 19-inch width.

Luggage allowance One carry-on item of up to 7¼ kilograms, plus one personal item such as laptop or briefcase. Checked luggage costs $US20 ($22) per item, including the first item of up to 31 kilograms. Additional items must be less than 22 kilograms or a $US50 charge applies.

Scheduled flight time Four hours, 45 minutes. On time.

Lounge access None at LAX.

Comfort The leather seats were comfortable enough, with room for me and my two neighbours to work on our laptops without banging elbows.


Aircraft condition Like new. Virgin America has been flying for two years with a new fleet of Airbuses.

Console and entertainment Seat-back screens with 33 current-release and foreign films available for $US8 each. Good selection of TV shows for $US2 each. Neither are really worth buying considering 24 live satellite TV channels are available for free. Power supply for electronic devices under seat. During the holiday season, the airline had a free on-board wireless internet promotion (normally $US12.95).

Food and beverages Fairly standard low-cost airline fare available to buy at any time. Sandwiches $US9-10. Chips, cookies $US3. Soft drinks free.

Service A national survey recently rated Virgin America the country's best for domestic flights and, given the poor reputation of US airlines, it's easy to understand why. In typical Virgin fashion, the crew are friendly and fun. The pilot announces before the flight that the crew is "totally psyched" to be flying us and promises "the best flight you've ever had".

Flight frequency Virgin America flies direct from LA to Fort Lauderdale twice daily. See www.virginamerica.com.

Tested by Craig Platt, who flew courtesy of Royal Caribbean Cruises.