Flight-Report

Review of Virgin America flight San Francisco Los Angeles in Economy

Airline Virgin America
Flight VX 1948
Class Economy
Seat 28A
Aircraft Airbus A321neo
Flight time 01:29
Take-off 24 Apr 18, 21:32
Arrival at 24 Apr 18, 23:01
VX   #17 out of 127 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 26 reviews
jetsetpanda
Published on 29th April 2018
This might sound surprising but to be honest I never expected to be on this flight.

I knew that VX was going to merge with AS sometime this year after its acquisition but it never occurred to me to find out which was the last flight, much less be on it. Then at the beginning of March I came across a thread on Flyertalk revealing that VX 1948 SFO-LAX was one of the last two departures (the other one was VX 1182 SFO-EWR) on Apr. 24 and it generated a lot of interest among avgeeks since this flight became the unofficial last flight for a group of loyal enthusiasts who planned to celebrate the VX brand by riding on the airline one last time and make a farewell toast in its honor at the AS Boardroom in LAX by midnight. On Apr. 25 all VX branding (except the planes) will transition to AS officially.

I have always harbored a love/hate relationship with VX since it began its operation in late 2007 and on a personal level this airline means more to me than the passing interest of a hobbyist. I guess partaking in the celebration of the last flight will finally provide me with some type of closure - at least subconsciously. I have flown VX previously and thought that the soft and hard products were miles ahead of what competitors offered on similar routes, although my limited experiences were confined to the front cabin on short hops to LAX and SEA. Nevertheless VX offered something truly special that made it stand out from competitors. Whether it was the attention to details by placing flower arrangements at the counters offering a dignified ambiance to check in for all pax, not just F, the access to the VS Clubhouses, its unique cabins with leather seats in all classes coupled with mood lighting, the awesome on demand RED entertainment system, its generous catering, the friendly disposition of the staff (I always found the ground agents in particular to be upbeat and smiling) or all of the above things, - there were plenty of reasons to choose VX over the competition and being voted "Best Domestic Airline" in the U.S. for several years in a row is a perfect validation of that.

As it turned out, I was meant to take this flight. I had an AS account with just a little over 6,000 miles that was just sitting around. I found out that I could have a one way award for 5,000 miles plus taxes on this flight and I booked it in the blink of an eye. For my return I would fly UA and that gave me the perfect excuse to visit the *A Gold lounge at TBIT and also pay a visit to the new AC Maple Leaf lounge @ T6 and UA Club @ T7. I was faithfully following any new developments over at the Flyertalk thread in case AS wanted to do something special for this flight and it happened that VX 1928 became officially the last VX flight and AS will officially do something for this flight. Furthermore AS was generous to waive any entrance fee to all Flyertalk members to the AS Boardroom in LAX upon presenting the boarding pass and credentials for the flight.

Flyertalk members UAPremierExec and socalgecko were instrumental in bringing about this festive and memorable event along with many other contributors and donors. These two members in particular exemplify the true spirit of generosity and aviation geekiness by financing the design and distribution of souvenirs out of their own pockets. They did not ask AS for any sponsorship since they wanted to have marketing freedom in the design of the items. It's wonderful to see individuals that are so passionate about this hobby and willing to share it with others. In the end more donations poured into this project thanks to the generosity of members and the group was able to order more swags for everybody - not just passengers but VX staff too.

The Pre-Flight


A few weeks before the flight I decided to visit VX HDQ in Burlingame one last time. I parked in the mostly empty lot and proceeded to the 5th floor where a friendly receptionist welcomed me and we had a chat about the airline and how it will be missed. As expected the place looked deserted and felt like a ghost town, so I took the opportunity to take some shots of the place. Before leaving she gave me a few cards about RED IFE system as souvenirs which I appreciated.

Former VX HDQ @ 555 Airport Blvd. in Burlingame, CA.


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Entrance

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Turning left as you exit the elevator

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Reception area and hallways




IFE cards

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SFO Ticket Counter


The VX brand was officially phased out on 25 Apr 2018 and many people were planning to obtain their boarding pass on VX stock when they check in for VX 1948 on 24 APR. Unfortunately the self service kiosks were dismantled the night before and boarding passes that were issued by the agents at the counter were on blank generic stocks.

As an avgeek I was obsessed to get a VX boarding card and within 24 hrs. of check-in I went to the airport (23 APR after 21:32) and printed my boarding pass from the self service kiosks. I noticed these maintenance guys hovering around the area and ask the agent if they were planning to take out the self service kiosks that night. He confirmed that was the case and I immediately reprinted a few more boarding passes.

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Get ready to say bye to these kiosks.

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This is how the counter looked when I returned the following day on 25 APR 2018.

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AA Admirals Club


The Flyertalk table was supposed to be set up by 20:00 at the gate and I arrived at the airport by 19:55. I had TSA Pre-Check and security was pretty empty on a Tue. night so I was on the other side in a matter of minutes. Thanks to the generosity of a friend I was able to spend a few minutes at the AA Admirals Club to grab something to eat before heading to the gate.


Soups were "French Onion" or "Santa Fe roasted corn and green chili bisque"

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Salads

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Dessert

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Santa Fe soup with salads

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VX 1948 SFO-LAX


We went by the yoga room to get a glimpse of our plane. It's the second one.

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Arriving at the gate we were met by crowds and the atmosphere was charged with excitement and anticipation. There were groups of VX employees everywhere you looked sharing a common bond of camaraderie for a few more precious moments while the company was still under the VX name.




In one corner there was a table set up with AS cupcakes and these were distributed to everyone.

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The line for the Flyertalk desk was long and moved at an agonizing speed. By the time I reached the desk boarding has already started. Thankfully there were volunteers who went through the line distributing giveaways and checking the names on the list. An assortment of gifts such as tumblers, stickers, safety cards, tags, buttons, posters, neck badge holders, post cards, posters, etc were given to pax.

A few gifts that I received.



Boarding gate.

Despite being a full flight and the large crowd at the gate, the boarding experience was very relaxing. Nobody was in a hurry to board the airplane.



I approached the agent scanning the passes and there was a mini cardboard cut out of Richard Branson. It turned out that he will be joining us on our flight later on.

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Entering the plane.

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The purser was greeting pax as we boarded.

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F class cabin.

Those white leather seats were trendsetting.

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Mood lighting was in full force.

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Mid WC out of order.

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I walk towards 28A and the aisle and middle seat pax in my row were already sitting there. Both of them stood up and and stepped into the aisle to let me in.

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IFE and seat pocket contents.



View from my seat.

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Onboard the ambiance was festive and coridal - neighbors chatted with each other and people exchanged impression and memories. Besides avgeeks there were VX staff members that wanted to partake on the last flight.

As we left the gate there was a crowd of VX employees who bid us farewell. That was a touching moment and only people sitting on the left side were able to appreciate this.

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It was time to play the safety video. Yes, that famous that have received over 13 million views on Youtube making it the most popular safety video of any airline. Some people erupted in unison singing and waiving the safety card doing an "in seat" dance.

VX Safety video



Cabin

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Taxiing

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Take off




Red's food order feature was deactivated but the chat was active. Some of the comments were hilarious and too censored to publish. :P

The service started when the carts rolled out and we were provided with a free cookie to commemorate this flight along with an open bar. Cookies were available in red, blue or purple.



At one point the cut out of Mr. Branson made it to our row for a visit.

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Soon we were landing in LAX

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After touch down there was a round of applause and the safety video was played one last time. Some people sang with tears in their eyes.

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Taxiing to the gate



There was an announcement by the crew thanking us for flying on this special flight and a reminder to pax not to take anything from their seats.

A look at my seat 28A

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As I deplane and go through the cabin, I am grateful that I've been able to partake in this experience and had a chance to fly on VX in the past. As an aviation enthusiast it's always sad to see another airline disappear. Good bye VX and thanks for the memories.



Bonus : Click here display



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Verdict

Virgin America

9.9/10
Cabin10.0
Cabin crew9.5
In-flight Entertainment10.0
Meal/catering10.0

San Francisco - SFO

9.3/10
Efficiency9.0
Access9.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness10.0

Los Angeles - LAX

9.3/10
Efficiency9.0
Access9.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

I join the chorus of voices praising the efforts of UAPremierExec, socialgecko and many others whose crucial efforts made this final VX flight a memorable event. VX meant more to me than just a great airline from an avgeek's perspective. I was never employed by them but it has impacted my life in a deep and personal way.

Thank you VX for being so unique and different from the rest. You brought panache and style by introducing so many features that set you apart from the rest. Savvy travelers took notice and you became a favorite for many of us.

I wish its employees the best as a new chapter opens in their careers.

VX will be missed.

Information on the route San Francisco (SFO) Los Angeles (LAX)

18 Comments

  • Comment 443038 by
    Thefireset 60 Comments

    Thank you for the FR!

    Virgin America was a really nice airlines, with Alaska it won't be the same.

    • Comment 443044 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2284 Comments

      Hi Thefireset.

      VX was special and there will never be one like it. One thing that you notice on social media is how much its employees loved the carrier and that is something that is rarely seen with most companies. Looking at some YouTube videos you could tell how passionate some felt about the carrier and how freely they were allowed to express themselves.

      Thanks for commenting.

  • Comment 443039 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4600 Comments

    Hi Adan, thank you so much for sharing this very special report on VX's last flight. How awesome that you were able to get a seat on the last flight for only 5K miles. It looks like it was a really special experience, especially with all the effort from the FT community. I will miss VX greatly and feel bad I didn't get to fly them more than 2 or 3 times (damn my LoyAAlty!). On the bright side VX cabins will still be flying for a little while longer, so hopefully I can catch a VX cabin-equipped A32X from IAD before all is said and done.

    • Comment 443045 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2284 Comments

      Hey Kevin.

      "How awesome that you were able to get a seat on the last flight for only 5K miles."
      - It was meant for me to be on this flight. Maybe one of these days you will find out why VX was so meaningful to me and understand the love/hate aspect. ;)

      " I will miss VX greatly and feel bad I didn't get to fly them more than 2 or 3 times (damn my LoyAAlty!)."
      - Me too. I also rode them 2-3x but they were always in F. I have those reports on Flyertalk under aw. :P This was my first and last time on VX Y.

      "On the bright side VX cabins will still be flying for a little while longer, so hopefully I can catch a VX cabin-equipped A32X from IAD before all is said and done."
      - It's not the same anymore. ;)

      As always your comments are very much appreciated. Take care.

  • Comment 443041 by
    Kolia GOLD 582 Comments

    Thanks a lot for this great FR... A sad time to see this nice airline leaving us.

  • Comment 443068 by
    SKYTEAMCHC TEAM GOLD 6861 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this report with us. I can't beleive you were able to fly this last flight, it's amazing. I only flew Virgin America once but it was awesome . They really brought back glamour and fun into flying. Even if Alaska is a good airline this will never be the same.

    • Comment 443168 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2284 Comments

      Salut Christophe.

      Sometimes life works in the most unpredictable ways and in the end I found myself taking a flight that I was not expected to. I'm glad that you had a chance to try VX and see how unique it was.

      AS has a good reputation but its culture seems so different from VX. In fact right after the merger AS produced a series of ads focusing on the different personalities of both carriers. Even AS realized that they might not be the "right" fit for this merger but at least it was able to make fun of it and try to make it as smooth as possible.

      http://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/alaska-airlines-celebrates-merger-virgin-america-showcasing-unexpected-brilliant-pairings-175131/

      Your comments are appreciated.

  • Comment 443081 by
    KL651 TEAM 4302 Comments

    Thanks for this emotional FR.
    Even if it's sad to lose another airline, the fact that it's taken over by AS with its good reputation and customer service softens the blow.
    Too bad more airlines did not follow the fancy standards of VX cabins and service.

    • Comment 443170 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2284 Comments

      Hi Etienne.

      "...the fact that it's taken over by AS with its good reputation and customer service softens the blow."
      - That could help, but there are a lot of die hard VX fans out there. For example, during the flight when an AS ad came right after the safety video, you could hear some boos loudly. Oh and let's not go over some of the comments about AS in the chat.

      "Too bad more airlines did not follow the fancy standards of VX cabins and service."
      - Perhaps the market is not ready for an airline like this.

      Thanks for dropping by.

  • Comment 443126 by
    indianocean SILVER 6078 Comments

    I flew couple of times on VX and I liked the comfort of the premium cabin, especially on a 2-3 hour flight.
    The ambiance on the ground and in the air were quite unique.
    But I always found the catering quite poor

    Anyway, it's always sad to read that an airline is operating its last flight before its complete merger with the head company.

    Thanks for sharing Adan. I'm sure it was a memorable flight, especially from an Avgeek

    • Comment 443172 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2284 Comments

      Hi there Bernard.

      "But I always found the catering quite poor"
      - At the beginning, especially in F, there were quite good. Then as time passed they began cutting down. It's too bad.

      "I'm sure it was a memorable flight, especially from an Avgeek"
      - Yes it was, but VX has had a deeper influence on me. ;)

      Thanks my friend for your support and comments as usual.

  • Comment 443157 by
    Jett Tyler SILVER 146 Comments

    Farewell Virgin America!
    Flew on them once back in January (on a freshly painted AS liveried ship "825") and due to fly Virgin Atlantic in November!

  • Comment 443296 by
    socalnow GOLD 839 Comments

    My goodness Jetsetpanda, you got me all misty eyed! Thank you for this thoughtful and touching farewell to an innovative and charismatic airline. I'm so glad you were able to be a part of it. Also, kudos to Alaska Airlines for embracing the event rather than shunning it. The emotional bonds we build with our preferred airlines are so unique. I can't imagine celebrating when Sprint becomes T-Mobile (or vice versa) for example. Thanks again for sharing this special experience "in the true spirit of generosity and aviation geekiness." Happy flying.

    • Comment 443313 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2284 Comments

      Howdy Christian.

      "Thank you for this thoughtful and touching farewell to an innovative and charismatic airline."
      - My pleasure! In a way this was cathartic for me. ;)

      "Also, kudos to Alaska Airlines for embracing the event rather than shunning it."
      - AS deserves a round of applause for being so gracious and supportive. Personally I thought that it was tasteless for people to boo at the AS ad when it came right after the VX safety video. If one doesn't have anything good to say, then one should stay quiet.

      " The emotional bonds we build with our preferred airlines are so unique."
      - Most people would not get this statement. Only an avgeek would understand.

      Thank you for your kind comments and safe travels.

  • Comment 444448 by
    Rl 777 812 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this exciting FR with us!

    Incredible pictures from the headquarters, thank you very much for sharing.

    “This is how the counter looked when I returned the following day on 25 APR 2018.”
    What a contrast.

    “A few gifts that I received.”
    Nice!

    “Mid WC out of order.”
    Signs of the merger are definitely there.

    “Take off”
    Stunning shots, with the striking winglet present.

    Sounds like an exciting flight experience! The effort that had been put is incredible.

    “Soon we were landing in LAX”
    That is busy for being at 11 PM! In particular I’m thinking about the latter picture with the road, I mean, Stockholm at rush hour is not even like that haha.

    As a side note, those IFE screens blended in seamlessly with the seatback with the colour VX used, I have never seen that with other airlines

    Thank you for the bonus pictures and for this memorable FR.

    Have a good one, see you!

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