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.
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.
Turning left as you exit the elevator
Reception area and hallways
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.
Get ready to say bye to these kiosks.
This is how the counter looked when I returned the following day on 25 APR 2018.
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"
Santa Fe soup with salads
VX 1948 SFO-LAX
We went by the yoga room to get a glimpse of our plane. It's the second one.
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.
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.
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.
Entering the plane.
The purser was greeting pax as we boarded.
F class cabin.
Those white leather seats were trendsetting.
Mood lighting was in full force.
Mid WC out of order.
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.
IFE and seat pocket contents.
View from my seat.
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.
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
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.
Soon we were landing in LAX
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.
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
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 displayhide
AS had graciously waived the entrance fee for Flyertalk members at its club in LAX in order to make a toast to VX. I was given a printed invitation along with the goodies at SFO before boarding.
The agents were extremely friendly in spite of the deluge of guests trying to access the lounge. Kudos to them for keeping their professional demeanor.
On a normal day this lounge seems pretty comfy and is a good size with lots of seats. There are also WC's inside and views of the tarmac. Tonight was the exception and the room became very crowded.
A few catering items.
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VX Loft @ LAX
In June 2013, I had the opportunity to visit VX Loft in LAX - its only lounge in the network. It was a small space that was tastefully decorated and inviting with fantastic views of the tarmac. At the time, VX's catering in the lounge surpassed anything that U.S. domestic carriers offered at their regular clubs. This was just another evidence of how VX set itself apart from the competition. Eventually catering became less generous and towards the end before the Loft closed the free items consisted of packaged goods and more substantial items were available for purchase.
San Francisco - SFO
Los Angeles - LAX
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.
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