On Tuesday I flew Virgin America for the first time. I was booked on the 7:45PM flight from Los Angeles to Seattle, and made it to the airport at around 6PM. I decided to purchase a one-day pass for the Virgin America Loft, which is the lounge Virgin America opened at LAX a year ago.

There are three ways to gain access to the Virgin America Loft at LAX:

  • Purchase a $40 day pass
  • Purchase a full-fare first class flight in “C,” “D,” or “J” fare buckets on Virgin America’s routes between LAX and BOS, DCA, EWR, IAD, FLL, JFK, MCO, ORD or PHL
  • Virgin America Elevate Silver members get two free day passes annually, while Virgin America Elevate Gold members get three free day passes anually

Since I’m not an elite member with Virgin America and was only traveling to Seattle, my only option was to purchase the $40 day pass. That’s almost certainly not worth it since I’d only have an hour or so in the lounge, but I figured it was worth it for the purposes of being able to review the lounge.

Here’s a video Virgin America made about The Loft:

YouTube Preview Image

Anyway, the Virgin America Loft is located at LAX Terminal 3, on the upper level near the center of the terminal by the food court. You can get to the upper level either via stairs or elevator.

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Stairs to Virgin America Loft LAX

The branding on the outside of the door is pretty sleek, and the associate that greeted me at the desk was friendly and quickly processed my payment.

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Virgin America Loft LAX entrance

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Virgin America Loft LAX entrance

The lounge itself is fairly small, as you’d expect given that Virgin America isn’t exactly a huge airline. The decor is also what you’d expect from Virgin America. There’s plenty of mood lighting, but to me the furniture and way it was designed felt really cheap. Between the furniture, lighting, and placement of everything, it felt a bit like Ikea meets Chuck E. Cheese meets disco night at a bowling alley.

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Virgin America Loft LAX seating

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Virgin America Loft LAX seating

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Virgin America Loft LAX seating

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Virgin America Loft LAX seating

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Virgin America Loft LAX seating

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Virgin America Loft LAX seating

The lounge boasts nice views of both the tarmac and the runway.

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Virgin America Loft LAX view

There was a bar with made-to-order aviation themed cocktails, and Virgin America even publishes the menu online.

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Virgin America Loft LAX bar

The huge disappoint, however, was the food spread. In Virgin America’s video about The Loft, they say “one of the things that was really important to us in putting together the food and beverage assortment was first of all to give people a little taste of the award winning food that we’re offering on our flights everyday.” And based on past reviews of The Loft, like this review by Rohan at Upgrd, they clearly used to have an extensive food selection. They used to have salad, sandwiches, seared ahi tuna, cheese plates, etc. Heck, the video even shows “real” food:

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Food in the video

So I was shocked to find the selection they had when I was there, especially since it was around dinnertime. They had stale cookies, Pop Chips, biscoffs, three kinds of toast in their bags (which I found trashy), packaged cheese cubes, yogurt, fresh fruit, and granola.

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Virgin America Loft LAX snacks

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Virgin America Loft LAX snacks

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Virgin America Loft LAX snacks

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Virgin America Loft LAX snacks

Seriously, there was nothing remotely fresh there, aside from the fruit, which didn’t look especially appetizing either. I’m a bit puzzled by why they’d have yogurt, toast and granola at 6PM, and nothing dinner-like. My guess is that they just keep the same spread out from 6AM till 11PM, since it was really more of a breakfast spread than an evening spread. I guess this is a big cut they’ve made in the past few months, because the food selection didn’t used to suck.

As far as wifi in the lounge goes, it was password protected and fairly fast, but I guess that’s not surprising since I was the only person in the lounge for most of my stay.

Bottom line

Ultimately this lounge is at best on par with the domestic lounges offered by other US airlines, and definitely not as nice as the “flagship” lounges offered by US carriers. Ultimately the price of a day pass is competitive, though most of us probably have more creative means of accessing other lounges, like through Priority Pass, status, an American Express Platinum Card, etc.

I don’t think I’ll be flying Virgin America again anytime soon since Alaska is my airline of choice up and down the west coast, and the lounge certainly didn’t impress me much either.

Have you visited the Virgin America Loft at LAX? What did you think?

  1. December 19th, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Bgriff said,

    I have used this lounge while waiting to depart in Virgin Australia business class back when VA was in T3, and it was typically overflowing and nearly impossible to find a seat when the VA flights were about to depart. There was also the better food selection you describe (as of March 2013) and the wifi essentially didn’t work at all because it was so overloaded. So I guess VA moving to TBIT has been a mixed bag for the lounge…

  2. December 19th, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    Bill said,

    This lounge does get crowded around the time of the VA flights. Otherwise, I’m not surprised that it would sit empty most of the time.

  3. December 19th, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Luis said,

    Does anyone really pay money to access these domestic lounges?

  4. December 19th, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    HansGolden said,

    Did you ask for a refund since food was not as advertised? ;-)

  5. December 19th, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Eric B said,

    Huh, I was there in April and it was exactly as advertised, with food that was pretty good and several solid cocktails. Too bad it didn’t measure up this time. The clubhouse in SFO is still head and tails above

  6. December 19th, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Mike said,

    Is this the old TWA Ambassador’s Club space – which I believe back in the day was shared with Alaska?

  7. December 19th, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Nick said,

    @Lucky – I was there just before Thanksgiving and they had the food on mini-platters as advertised. It may be a daytime-only affair (we were there around 11am) but we had plenty of breakfast and lunch options available. I suspect the majority of the VX flights out of LAX leave before 6pm, so it doesn’t make sense for them to stock it in the afternoon once the food goes stale? Particularly if you’re flying first class domestically and bound to get a full dinner on board?

  8. December 19th, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Mike — Yep, it’s the former Alaska Airlines Board Room!

  9. December 20th, 2013 at 1:30 am

    everywhere said,

    VA stopped using T3 (except for check-in) on 1 December 2013. I expect the catering has been downgraded significantly now that this huge revenue stream has pulled out from using the Loft.

  10. December 20th, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Carl said,

    Is the Men’s room still tiled in black from the TWA days?

    I hope that Amex doesn’t do the same with the food in the Centurion lounges.

    I can’t imagine spending $40/day to visit the lounge, but VX doesn’t have enough lounges to justify an annual membership either. Too bad they don’t do a deal with Amex or Priority Pass

  11. December 22nd, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    TrAAveller said,

    I visited last month before my VA flight and it was a severe disappointment. I agree the furniture is cheap Ikea meets frat house chic. When the VA flight departed it was madly full to the brim. Fortunately the VA flights have been moved to Tom Bradley International to the NZ lounge. The food at the Loft was lame and disappointing at best. Thanks for the review.

  12. December 26th, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    ryan said,

    Just was told when I checked in to the loft today that they are setting up an agreement with Amex Plat/Cent starting early Jan. That’s the good news, the bad news is as noted the food options have been dramatically downgraded.

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