Hello Flight Report community. Inspired by all the great reports on this site I will put together a series of reports to share a fantastic RTW trip I took in January 2015. For my first ever Flight Report I recently posted on my April 2015 RTW and several members were kind enough to leave feedback and I really appreciate it. I had already taken the pictures for this report so I will not be able to apply the lessons learned from that report.
I will dissect the journey as follows: Planning, Virgin America Loft LAX, VX LAX-JFK (First) Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse JFK and SQ JFK-FRA (Suites) Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge FRA, Lufthansa Senator Lounge FRA, and SQ FRA-SIN (Suites) The Private Room SIN and SQ SIN-PEK (First) Air China Business Class Lounge PEK and CA PEK-NRT (Business) Delta Skyclub NRT and DL NRT-LAX (Business)
Planning and Background
First of all, I don't always fly completely around the world when travel. It just so happens that my last two outings ended up this way. This trip started with a Virgin America Fare sale. I am an avid reader of the Boarding Area blog One Mile At A Time. Lucky posted a blurb about 50% off Virgin America transcon business fares. I was always intrigued by VX and the slick facade they put forward so I bought one. I have flown the Delta and United premium transcon products so I thought it would be interesting to see how VX competes.
So now the question was, where to fly from JFK? I have quite a few Chase and AMEX points maybe I could give SQ25 a go. The timings of the flight are ideal for enjoying the world class Singapore service and the A380 suites product is tough to beat. So far so good, a plan is coming together however I didn't like the idea of termination at SIN and missing the The Private Room but I also love to visit Singapore so I wanted some time on the ground there. To resolve this conundrum I added the tag in First to PEK that would allow for about 10 hours in SIN and not be considered a back track routing by SQ Krisflyer rules.
For the final legs i could have taken DL from PEK but I wanted to guild the lilly and try another airline that was new to me, Air China. I used some United miles to book PEK-NRT and then there would be any number of DL choices to get home from there. OK, enough chit chat, let's get to the flying.
The Loft (FYI to mods: The Virgin America Loft was not one of the lounge choices in the FR drop down list so I chose some generic lounge.) It was a beautiful warm Southern California Saturday when I embarked on this journey. I arrived at the airport early as I was keen to check out the Virgin America Loft to which you gain access if flying transcon in the premium cabin. Check in was accomplished online and with no checked bags I proceeded to LAX terminal 3. Security was quick at 11:30am on a Saturday.
The Loft Entrance
The lounge was deserted upon my arrival. There may have been one other patron. My boarding pass was inspected and I was welcomed in. The initial entry was was dark and illuminated by multi-color mood lights. It seems to be a goal of the Virgin brands to put forth a nightclub like atmosphere with their lounges and airlines.
The dark entry gave way to a bright space with lots of natural light.
This space is the former Alaska Airlines Board Room prior to the AS move to terminal 6. There are great views of the north complex runways so I just pulled a chair up to the window and enjoyed the view.
I enjoyed a G&T and some light snacks
Perfect sign for a room where you may let go of some hot air
The 320 to JFK is the one in the distance
About 30 minutes before stated departure time I left the lounge to the make the very short walk to the gate. The gate area was very crowded with several VX flights leaving a similar times. First class was given a priority boarding so I was on board shortly.
The cabin has more of the nightclub like atmosphere with mood lighting and stark white seats. It's striking if nothing else.
I was greeted and offered a PDB and I opted for sparkling wine. I don't know what label they serve but in a plastic glass I'm rather turned off.
Looking forward from row 1
Boarding was completed timely and we pushed back. It's a sort taxi to the north runways.
Holding for an NZ 777-300ER
And we're off 24L
Service started as soon as we passed 10,000'. There was one flight attendant for the 4 of us in first.
A menu was presented but I only photographed the cover, LOL!
I opted for a VX signature cocktail. I think it was something with gin and cucumber..a gimlet of sorts perhaps. It was quite nice.
The menu listed a starter, choice of main, and a dessert. I assumed they would be coursed but he starter/salad and main arrived on the same tray. It's braised beef short rib with horseradish sauce.
The starter/salad was nice prosciutto with some melon
Cake for dessert
The flight attendant was very attentive during service and refilled wine and water regularly. There were only 4 of us in First so I would imagine with 8 she would not have been as available. There was a period she disappeared to assist with the economy service but it was after my tray was cleared.
One interesting perk of VX first is that you can enjoy and of the economy BOB items. When the flight attendant returned from coach I requested the cheese plate.
A digestif of single malt scotch.
I failed to get any pictures of the IFE system. It was of the older VOD variety with an approximately 9 screen the folded out from the armrest. It did the job for watching a movie after dinner. I set the empty seat next to me on the map channel and was able to enjoy a movie on my screen.
We arrived more or less on time to JFK terminal 4 and I was off to a Sheraton to rest up for my big two day SQ adventure that would start the next day.
Independent ReLAX Lounge
Los Angeles - LAX
New York - JFK
I was happy to have tried Virgin America and I am of the impression that their marketing is far more style than substance. Their premium transcon product is a distant third of the carriers I have sampled. The lounge was pleasant and ample for a US domestic carrier. The on board service was attentive. The catering and hard product are both sub par when compared the the multi-course meals and flat beds offered by United and Delta, my two points of reference. So kudos to the Virgin America marketing department because they have convinced the US flying public that they provide a hip, quality, and sophisticated product when in reality it is of lower quality than its competitors on this route. Thank you for reading and stay tuned for the next leg of the journey!
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