New policies for Virgin America guests: Bigger carry-on sizes, earlier boarding times and lower fees

Virgin America check-in counter

Alaska Airlines and Virgin America have been busy behind the scenes looking for ways to make the travel experience as seamless as possible for guests flying across the airlines’ combined route network. As part of this, some of Virgin America’s travel policies related to boarding and check-in times, bags, pets and unaccompanied minors have been updated. The changes, which are outlined below, and which match policies already in place at Alaska are now in effect on all flights operated by Virgin America.

Domestic check-in cut-offs

For the past seven years, Alaska has been the No. 1 on-time major North American carrier. Being a leader in getting flights to their destinations on-time doesn’t happen by accident, and a key piece is ensuring that guests are able to check in for flights, check bags and make it through security with ample time to board their flights. For that reason, Virgin America’s check-in policy will now mirror Alaska’s, with all guests asked to check in (with or without bags) 40 minutes prior to departure.

Previous Virgin America policy

Time: 30 minutes prior to departure with no bags to check; 45 minutes with bags to check

New Virgin America policy

Time: Please check in with or without bags 40 minutes prior to departure at most airports.*

*The following cities have a 45-minute check-in cut-off: Las Vegas, Denver and Philadelphia (beginning Aug. 31)

Domestic boarding times

Everyone likes a little extra time to get settled. With that in mind, Virgin America flights will now begin boarding five minutes earlier, matching Alaska’s boarding times.

Previous Virgin America policy

Time: 35 minutes prior to departure

New Virgin America policy

Time: 40 minutes prior to departure

Baggage size

Alaska allows guests to bring slightly larger carry-on bags than most other domestic carriers, and today Virgin America’s carry-on baggage allowance is growing an inch to match.

Previous Virgin America policy

Maximum: Outside linear measurement of 50 inches

New Virgin America policy

Maximum: Linear dimension of 51 inches

(24 inches X 17 inches X 10 inches)


Today Virgin America joins Alaska in welcoming fewer pets on board, but more species of pets when traveling in the cabin.

Previous Virgin America policy

Limit: No limit to number of pets carried in the cabin. Virgin America does not accept animals as cargo or checked baggage.

Species: Cats and dogs only

New Virgin America policy

Limit: 5 pet carriers allowed in the main cabin (not allowed in First Class or Main Cabin Select), no animals transported in the belly of the aircraft

Species: Cats, dogs, household birds and domesticated rabbits

Unaccompanied minors

Welcome aboard, jetsetters in training. Virgin America is changing its unaccompanied minor age, flight type policy and fees.

Previous Virgin America policy

Age: 5 to 11 considered unaccompanied minor

Flight type: Unaccompanied minors were not allowed on connecting or thru flights (also referred to as “direct flights,” these are flights that make a stop at a midpoint city before continuing on to their destination)

Price: $75-$125 depending on length of flight

New Virgin America policy

Age: 5 to 12 considered unaccompanied minor

Flight type: Children 5-7 allowed on non-stop and thru flights. Children 8-12 allowed on non-stop, connecting, and thru flights

Price: $25 on nonstop and thru itineraries

$50 on connections

For more information about the policy changes, please visit Virgin America’s website.

4 Comments on “New policies for Virgin America guests: Bigger carry-on sizes, earlier boarding times and lower fees

  1. I was curious when 75K Alaska flyers will be eligible for upgrades or same day confirmed witth VA.

    • Hi Josh – upgrades on Airbus aircraft will debut in late 2018 (more here), but same-day confirmed is now available across Alaska and Virgin America (fees are waived for MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members.)

  2. Has the Alaska policy about pets in first class changed? Just a few months ago it was 1 pet in carrier in the first class cabin. If this new process is to match Alaska and Virgin, I’m confused by why it says no pets in first class.

    • Hi Beth – the Alaska policy has not changed. The Virgin America pet policy regarding pets in First Class and Main Cabin Select is due to no place to store pet carriers in those seating areas.

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