Friday, April 4, 2008

Trip Report - Virgin America SFO-SEA

I had the pleasure of trying Virgin America this week from SFO to Seattle. Overall it was a very different and enjoyable experience. There were a couple odd things, but for most travelers it would have been a very nice fun flight.

Virgin flies out of SFO's underused International Concourse. Its a nice clean roomy gate area with lots of nice views of the Bay and the planes at SFO.

The flight was very full -- probably since the fares are as low as $73 one-way on this route, plus its still Spring Break. My flight had mostly spring break students and "leisure" fliers on it. The First Class cabin (all 8 seats) were full, so I ended up with 24C.

Boarding the airline is like entering a "club" with purple/pink hues and dance music playing. The seat backs are white HARD plastic which extends the club feel to your seat.

The Red inflight system was working and is light years ahead of anything I have experienced on Delta or Air Canada. There is a handheld controller in each armrest, which is handy but it also is placed where your elbow usually rests -- not a big deal, but it felt a bit odd.

The service was above average, the flight attendants were cheerful and seemed to enjoy the club like setting. However, two things during the flight did seem odd or not well developed.

1- There is no "welcome to Virgin here is how things work on our plane" video. Travelers are left to figure it out by themselves -- the lead flight attendant did make an announcement at the start of the flight, but it didnt do the system justice. The Red system is fairly intuitive, but I am not sure my Mom would be comfortable figuring it out without help. I think it would be smart to have a "intro" video so folks know how things work -- and it would promote how much better the inflight experience is compared to United, Alaska, etc.

2- The inflights did a regular beverage service with a cart, but "guests" around me were confused if they should order wine/beer through the Red system or when the cart gets to their row. Again, a video or announcement describing the inflight service would have really helped.

I enjoyed the flight-- bonus points for Dance music on the Red System!! If there are First Class seats available on your Virgin America flight, make sure you do the upgrade. The seats are real International Seats and have tons of leg room.

Orbitz- Keeping You A Step Ahead! 180x150