One Mile at a Time reports that Virgin America passengers flying paid first class from San Francisco can now use the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse there.. for an additional $40.
Naturally, a move to charge folks flying in paid first class for lounge access will seem strange to many. But since most US airlines don’t offer lounge access for paid domestic first class tickets (Alaska Airlines is one exception), since the price of a one-way first class ticket from San Francisco to Los Angeles isn’t especially high, and since the Virgin Clubhouse is a rather nice lounge by US standards, this seems more than reasonable to me.
I’ll be visiting the Virgin Clubhouse at Washington-Dulles for the first time in a few weeks, I understand that it’s rather underwhelming for a Virgin lounge but still the nicest on offer at Dulles. It has showers, a full menu, bar, Playstation, DVD library, computers, and dart board.
This will be my first visit to a Virgin Clubhouse. A well-regarded architect that I know described his recent visit to their flagship location at Heathrow thusly:
This place is too cool to describe – an architect’s dream of Platner, Eames, Corbusier and Austin Powers. Floating ceilings with indirect lighting, a sixty foot long bar with backlit onyx top, pool tables, flat screens, saunas, waiters and waitresses buzzing about taking your drink or food order wherever you sit. There is a spa with 4 very busy hairdressers.
Even if the San Francisco lounge is a far cry from Heathrow, it will still offer a proper meal and a nice place to relax prior to boarding. Certainly $40 isn’t crazy considering that American charges $50 for a day pass to its Admiral’s Club lounges and that only gets you access to .. an Admiral’s Club. No meal served there (except for those nasty sandwiches they will sell you).
The one downside to the Virgin Clubhouse in San Francisco – and this is a serious drawback – is that the lounge is ‘landside’ (i.e. prior to security) so passengers need to leave (a variable and somewhat unpredictable) amount of time to clear the TSA checkpoint.