From a trip report I posted to airliners.net.
The actual trip to Vegas was nice — very relaxed. I didn’t even bring my laptop!! Although I later was feeling quite detached from the world. Guess I have Internet addiction, but since I can claim that is my career hopefully I can avoid those nasty visits to the therapist LOL!
Bottom lines at the top:
–Nice new airplanes, of course.
–Nice staff, not outlandishly cute, but happy & professional
–Exit row reservation of $15 is worth it
–Upgrade to first class $50 worth it…perhaps
–Red is cool, but needs some work. Holds promise
–Will definitely fly again; all-in-all superior to other competitors that I have flown
In brief…my first time on Virgin America as I was trying their product to see what the fuss was all about after a 3 day quickie in Vegas. I usually fly either Alaska (We’re nearly slaves to it in SEA for west coast stuff) or Southwest for short trips like this.
I forgot my camera — 20 lashes with a noodle, I know.
Reserved an exit row window on this leg. Found the legroom more than some domestic first class cabins I’ve sat in. Definitely worth the $15 for me. Seats are comfy and did not feel “squashed” into them and I’m a pretty big guy. The side wall does start curving into your headroom if a window seat, though. Not enough to make me unhappy for 1.5 hours. Weather was gorgeous all along the coast, so spot on-time departure. Arrived 40-35 minutes early into SFO!
The Red in-flight entertainment is nice, but still seems buggy — slow screen redraws and artifacts. Google maps is slow. TV is good. Music good (obviously as a Virgin product…) Navigation of the screens was a little confusing, but I’m getting old and analog, so perhaps it’s just me. Once the kinks are worked-out and the final features added it will indeed be killer.
Now had a 4 hour layover in SFO, but that was planned — had dinner with some friends which was fabulous. Returned to the airport an hour before departure only to find a gate change to the other side of the SFO Int’l terminal to G83. Quite long walk — not something you want to do when you have no time.
Load: poor (perhaps 33%?)
Got an upgrade to first class on this leg. After cheap Vegas hotel and no gambling I figured i could afford the $50 upgrade luxury to try it out — I AM an airplane lover after all, so it’s research, at least this is my excuse to myself… 🙂
First class is really akin to a good International business class. Unbelievable seat pitch — I could not reach-out and touch the seat in front of me without getting out of my seat. Seat comfy. Only annoying thing was there is no place to rest a single drink glass as the arm rests are padded and contain the tray table on one side and the Red screen on other.
We were served a BBQ chicken salad, which I poked thru as I was stuffed from dinner, but it was good and appropriate for the quite late hour. All-in-all for this short flight the $50 wasn’t particularly worth it when I knew from the first flight that $15 extra scores an outstanding seat totally sufficient for 1-3 hour coastal flights.
I later sat in a “normal” coach seat for a few minutes. It did feel more constricted, obviously, but I would not hesitate to sit in one of these either. As good or better than other airlines.
Oh, and we arrived 30 minutes early in SEA as well. Must have been the excellent weather, I’m sure. Vividly shows you, however, how much delay airlines pad into schedules some times (yet still are late…I know, a huge other topic! 😉
IMHO this is a superior product compared to the normal airlines I endure when doing quick flights on the west coast. Perhaps not mind-blowingly so, but definitely a noticeable step above the rest. If Virgin America flies to a destination I want to go to I will choose them over anyone else from now on; let’s hope that network of theirs is expanded. I think they have the potential to really take-on a certain airlines if they can hang in there during the tough times and passengers take notice.