Lounge Review: Virgin America Loft LAX
MAY 21 2017
The term game-changer gets thrown around a lot these days.
It’s not your 5th grade classmate who traded the chess pieces for the Monopoly board once they rage-quit when you Scholar's Mate them. Nor is it the little cousin you boss around to go and swap out that Ken Griffey Presents Major League Baseball SNES cartridge for another game because you’re sick of getting struck out.
A game-changer is a physical item or service that vastly improves an otherwise mundane (even at times inconvenient) yet necessary part of an activity or experience.
An electric toothbrush. Ride-sharing services. A well-seasoned cast iron pan. Philips Hue. Amazon Prime Now. These socks. Game-changers.
In the world of travel, two immediately come to mind: TSA PreCheck and airport lounge access. When you can waltz through security and relax in a comfortable, separate area with complimentary food and drink, it completely changes your perception of the travel experience. Annoyance and anxiety are quickly replaced with aviation anticipation.
The Virgin America Loft at LAX has been this go-to sanctuary for Terminal 3 flyers. But with the recent Alaska acquisition and history’s largest airport terminal shuffle now complete, it was only a matter of time until this LAX favorite closed up shop. Sad to say that day has finally come. As of this writing, all of Virgin America has vacated Terminal 3 and has cozied up with its Alaska overlords over in 6.
So why even highlight the now defunct Loft if our readers can’t even visit it anymore? This was the very first airport lounge I was fortunate enough to experience. Plus it was Virgin America’s only lounge to exist. It deserves a swan-song review.
It was located in Terminal 3, airside, right above Gate 34 and conveniently adjacent to most of the other VX gates. Access was granted with:
Virgin America Elevate Gold
First Class Virgin America ticket on a long-haul
Virgin America Elevate Silver (+$15)
Day pass ($+30)
An aside: Priority Pass is undoubtedly the easiest and quickest way to gain access to these type of lounges around the world. Best way to attain membership is through Priority Pass Select, a specifically designed membership that is an added benefit as a cardholder of any of the premium travel cards out there (Chase Sapphire Reserve, Amex Platinum, Citi Prestige, etc.). More on that in future writings.
There was a sparsely stocked snack bar with assorted fruits, nuts, chips, and water. Fruit juices, soft drinks, assorted beer, and wine were complimentary at the full-size bar. Their “Lofty Libations” mixed drinks were $10 each. Various salads, sandwiches, pizzas, pastas, and burgers were available for purchase (~$12 each). This was my main gripe with the Loft, as almost every other major lounge offers better food at a better price (free.99).
There was ample seating right along the large floor-to-ceiling windows so you can whimsically watch the runway action.
With the airline now in Terminal 6 and no more Loft to retreat to, Virgin America flyers can still hit up their parent Alaska Lounge near Gate 64 with the same previously mentioned access.
All things considered, the Virgin America Loft @ LAX was far from the most lavish of lounges. This ain't the Plaza Premium Lounge at London Heathrow. Several others even domestically have wider offerings and are far more gastronomically generous. But even sparsely stocked lounges such as this, no matter how barebone it may be, can make all the difference and really elevate your travel experience. It always beats waiting at the gate. 100.
So big ups to the Loft. You’ll be remembered fondly. Thanks for all the bananas and Shock Tops.
You were a real game-changer.