Following day was the highlight, visit to Grand Canyons! Through the desert.
First stop, Hoover Dam. Time to take those dam pictures!
Finally reached the magnificent Grand Canyons!!
Humans are like puny ants in front of the Canyons…
Another look-out point.
Last city to go, San Francisco! This would also be my 6th flight sector on this trip. Again, took the pre-booked shuttle for the short ride to McCarran Terminal 3, where Virgin America would be departing from. On this sector, I had the choice of flying Virgin America, Southwest or United, but chose Virgin America due to all the hype about this stylish airline, even though Southwest offered free bag check-in but this is payable on VX. We pre-paid for our bags for USD25 each during online check-in, which is the same rate as on United. Also, at the time of my flight, VX passengers are also eligible to earn Krisflyer miles.
Arriving at McCarran T3, with view of The Strip behind.
Flying Virgin America today!
Virgin America check-in area.
We had arrived slightly more than 2hrs before departure and the check-in and baggage drop counters were not staffed yet. However we used the check-in machines to print our boarding passes.
Boring-looking self-service printed boarding pass. Should have gotten the boarding passes from the check-in counters as they looked cooler!
Waiting for the baggage drop counters to open. There was already a short queue. Counters opened on the dot and very soon, our bags were on their way.
With the many departures, there was a rather long queue for security, which took probably 20min. Not the worst I have encountered, but considered the worst for this trip. After security is the sterile boarding area with shops. Noticed that in USA, the flight information display is sorted by destinations instead of departure times!
Slots everywhere again! But apparently no one is playing… Guess everyone had enough of jackpots…
Shops in the terminal. We chilled out at Starbucks for a while.
Followed by some plane-spotting. Air Canada A320 had just arrived.
Killer Whale Frontier A320
Very cool signage at our departure gate!
The more traditional flight information display. Our boarding would be delayed for 20min due to low ceilings in the Bay Area. Not surprising as it occurs rather frequently. However it was not reflected on the information display.
Slots machine right at the gate.
Our A320 to SFO.
Close-up. It is named sol plane.
13 March 2013 Virgin America VX 905 Las Vegas McCarran (LAS) - San Francisco (SFO) A320 N844VA sol plane Economy Class
Headsets, in 3 different colours, are available for purchase at the gate for USD2 each.
Boarding was called by classes and row numbers and was strictly enforced. Down the gangway to aircraft, with an interesting signage spotted.
Welcomed aboard and passed through First Class with only 8 seats. The white leather-cladded seats looked good!
However it was off into Main Cabin for me…
Seat pitch looked decent at 32.
Cool purple cabin lights, with trance music playing in the background. Felt just like in a club! Interesting!!
Out the window. What a patriotic wingtip fence!
Boarding in progress, with crew assisting pax. There were 2 crew in Main cabin and 1 crew serving First today.
Legroom is more than decent for this short hop. Seat pocket has innovative small separated compartments to place your stuff.
Safety card, wifi guide and airsick bag.
Even though the IFE monitors are touch-screen enabled, handsets are also available under the armrests.
Which can be removed for use when required.
United A319 taxiing away. United operates from the mid-concourse D which could be reached by a people-mover from Terminal 3.
Frontier also departing.
Soon, boarding was completed and we started out pushback. Flight time was announced as 1h20m. The pilot came on and announced that even though we would be starting our taxi, ATC had only cleared us to depart to SFO at 1150am, and thus we would need to hold on the taxiway.
Pushback with safety video playing.
United B739 passing by.
American B738 pushing back as well.
Taxi with safety video ending.
A row of aircraft queuing for takeoff.
We waiting on the taxiway for our departure slot while watching planes takeoff and land. A Delta CRJ departing.
Westjet B738 to somewhere in Canada.
Air Canada before us. Finally we are next!
Still more planes behind, with the mountains right ahead.
Took off right on the dot at 1150hrs from Rwy25R.
Mountains and desert.
Nice and dry landscape.
Service announcement was made.
Lets take a look at the Red IFE system. It consists of more than 20 'live' TV channels, MTVs, CDs, flight map and the very cool inflight food/beverage ordering system!
On VX, only drinks are free. Snacks and meal boxes are payable (unless you are seated in Main Cabin Select) by swiping your credit card under the screen. On this short flight, a round of beverage service and snack sales was conducted for the entire cabin, so the inflight order system is kinda useless. What are the free drinks on offer?
And the buy-on-board snacks on offer.
And meal boxes, which were apparently snapped up by Main Cabin Select passengers.
Still very dry out there…
Watching a documentary on Tiger Farming.
Friendly Virgin America crew starting the beverage service as well as handing out ordered snacks and meal boxes.
Flight map uses Google Map! We are currently at 30,000ft.
Great weather for flying.
The new Pope was announced 'Live' at 30,000 feet!
I had a cranberry juice as well as a bottle of water.
We further climbed to 36,000ft.
Video taken inflight.
Beautiful snow-capped mountains.
Really nice views throughout the flight.
Cabin view again.
Greenery shall appear after passing this mountain range.
Starting our descent into San Francisco.
Built up area with lush greenery now. It is amazing how the landscape can change from dry deserts to snow-capped mountains to lush green forests and fields within 1hr!
Making some turns before setting up on finals across the bay.
Descending across the bay.
Landing on Rwy28R, 20min behind schedule. Not the fault of the airline though.
Taxi to Terminal 2, which houses Virgin America and American Airlines.
Reached the gate. UA A320 taxied by.
ANA B773ER landing in the distance.
Another VX docking beside us.
My leather economy seat.
A look at Main Cabin again.
This plane would be going up to Philadelphia. Wait a minute… Singapore Airlines SQ1311 to Philadelphia? Nope, not a new SQ destination but new codeshares on VX. Almost all the VX flights departing at that period of time from SFO had SQ-code affixed as well! Guess it is to enable transfer from the arrival SQ16.
Some shots of Terminal 2, which consists of quite a number of gates surrounding some eateries.
Satisfied my pinkberry crave right after touchdown in the terminal!
Towards the exit.
Claiming our bags.
From Terminal 2, we would need to take the shuttle train to the BART station at the international terminal.
SQ Albino departing as SQ15 to ICN and SIN!
The BART was really convenient to reach our hotel, Hotel Nikko, at Powell. After check-in, it was time to explore the city of Frisco! Firstly, of course the iconic San Francisco trolley!
Las Vegas - LAS
San Francisco - SFO
Overall a short and interesting flight on Virgin America. Really a different flying experience from the normal carriers out there. With the reports that VX is currently bleeding real badly, I really hope that this unique carrier could eventually survive the very competitive US airspace. Hopefully with the alliance with SQ, things might look up a bit better for VX.
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