Sign Up For Virgin America's Frequent Flier Program, Lose Your Discount Airfare

Mike writes to us on Virgin America’s maiden day of service to complain that his discount fare vanished after he signed up for Virgin’s frequent flier program. Mike and his girlfriend tried to buy $44 tickets from San Francisco to Los Angeles, but after signing up for the frequent flier program, the fare jumped to $79. Though Virgin has invested in a state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment system, from the looks of Mike’s letter, they haven’t invested nearly enough in customer service. Mike writes:

My girlfriend and I were booking tickets to fly between Los Angeles and San Francisco. For one reason or another, I was flying round trip with Virgin, and she was only doing the end, San Francisco to Los Angeles leg.

We were booking the tickets at the same time, to make sure we’d be able to sit beside each other. When we started the process, the price of the tickets were $44 each way. After selecting the flights and the seats, we were presented with the option of finishing the purchase, or signing up for the Virgin America frequent flier program, and then finishing the purchase. Both of us chose to sign up for the program.

I finished my application first, and proceeded to finish my purchase. When my girlfriend finished the application a minute later, the ticket price had gone up to $79. Keep in mind, this is after we’d selected the flights and the seats, and had been prompted by Virgin to sign up for the program before finishing the purchase. Essentially, Virgin America was adding $35 to my girlfriend’s ticket price, for the luxury of signing up for their frequent flier program.

She immediately got on the phone with Virgin customer service, who initially offered to bring the price down to $59. When she accepted the offer, the customer service person told her that they (Virgin) wouldn’t actually be able to offer the discount, and it would still be $79.

Do you have any contact for Virgin America’s executive team? I’d really like them to be aware of the irony over losing a customer because of the frequent flier program.

As Virgin launched today, we don’t yet have direct contact information for CEO Fred Reid. That shouldn’t stop you from calling their corporate offices at (650) 762-7000. Politely ask for Mr. Reid’s office, and tell your story to whoever answers.

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)