Trip Report: Virgin America first class San Diego to San Francisco

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01. Introduction: San Diego to San Francisco on Virgin America
02. Virgin America first class San Diego to San Francisco
03. A day and a half exploring the city of San Francisco
04. Westin St Francis on Union Square, San Francisco
05. American Airlines Admirals Club, San Francisco
06. Virgin America first class San Francisco to San Diego

Even though this was just going to be a short flight from SAN up to SFO (a route I’ve flown many times), it was one that I had been looking forward to for quite some time. Why? Well, It was to be my first flight on Virgin America! I should back up a bit and say that I’m not totally obsessed with this airline or anything, but I’ve been looking for an excuse to try them out over the years and it seemed like I could never make it work due to schedule constraints or other factors beyond my control. So naturally, that determination to try them out has grown over the years. But finally – this was it.

We arrived at SAN about an hour and a half before departure, and was surprised to see no lines queuing up at the check in desk.

virgin america check in desk at san diego airport

Virgin America check in desk at SAN

We strolled right up, checked our bags, and had our boarding passes within a minute or two. I wish every trip started this easy! Oh – I would like to point out that while I thought that the upbeat electronic music playing at the check in desk was a bit cheesy, it was…kind of cool at the same time. Just another reminder of how stodgy all the other airlines are. Kudos to Virgin America for injecting some fun into the air travel experience.

VX 961
San Diego, CA (SAN) – San Francisco, CA (SFO)
Friday August 1 2014
Aircraft: Airbus A319
Seat: 1A (first)

Virgin America A319

Virgin America A319 – N524VA

We walked over to terminal 2 west to grab some lunch, as there are far more dining options over there compared to the much smaller (and older) terminal 2 east where the Virgin America gates are. Upon arriving back at gate 25 in T2 east, we only had to wait 5 minutes before boarding for first class was called. And once again, we were greeted by techno music coming from a small pair of speakers sitting on the podium as we approached the gate.

terminal 2 east SAN

Walking towards gate 25 in terminal 2 east at SAN

looking towards the south in terminal 2 east at SAN

Looking the other way. As you can see, they have done a pretty good job of renovating this terminal over the past year or so. Looks much better than it did.

Dark and dreary gate 25

Gate 25

Virgin America first class boarding pass

My Virgin America first class boarding pass. Let’s get this show on the road!

boarding virgin america A319

Moments before stepping onboard N524VA

I’ll be honest – I was pleasantly surprised as soon as we stepped onboard the aircraft. The first thing I noticed was the cool blue mood lighting emanating from the ceiling, and then the transparent purple bulkhead wall at the front of the first class cabin.

Transparent purple bulkhead wall

Transparent purple first class bulkhead wall with LED mood lighting

stylish bulkhead wall

This is certainly the most stylish bulkhead wall that I have ever seen

White leather Virgin America first class

White leather Virgin America first class seats on the A319

first class full-size blanket

They even provided a full-size (and very thick) blanket for this short 1-hour flight up to SFO

storage space in the lower section

Here’s a better look at the storage space in the lower section of the bulkhead wall

Leg room was pretty good in row 1

Leg room was pretty good in row 1, but tall passengers might feel a bit cramped

Looks great, right? Just as you saw in the pics above, the fist class seats were covered in a white leather-like material with black and gray trim plastic. The entire combination was stylish and hip, which to some might not be a big deal at all, but I loved the attention to detail here.

The first class flight attendant was super friendly and helpful. She obviously saw me taking a lot of pics, so she came over to greet us and ask if this was our first time in Virgin America first class. I told her yes, and she graciously offered to give us a tour of the seat functions which included: massage, extending foot rest, and an assortment of preset positions for sleeping or just lounging. Long story short, this seat offered far more control than most other first class seats on other domestic airlines. The massage function in my seat wasn’t operating, but my wife found it to be quite comfortable.

entertainment system remotes

The center console between the seats contained the remote controls for the entertainment system

personal video screen

The personal video screen flips up from inside the center arm rest

Seat controls

Seat controls are located in the other arm rest

in-seat massage controls

The in-seat massage controls are located inside of the arm rest (you have to flip up the top lid to access them)

We pushed back from the gate right on time, but ended up sitting in the penalty box on the northern side of the airport for about 15 minutes as we were waiting for clearance to depart for SFO. The pilot didn’t give us a clear explanation as to why other than the standard “flow control” excuse. No worries though – we were siting quite comfortably up in first class.

Sitting on the north side of the field at SAN

Sitting on the north side of the field at SAN waiting for a departure slot

watching the action on runway 27 at SAN

We had a pretty good view of the action on runway 27 from here

Finally on our way

Finally on our way, with a good look at the JAL 787 parked at T2 below

Climbing out over Point Loma

Climbing out over Point Loma on our way to SFO

Once airborne, the flight attendant came around with drink orders, and then followed up with a snack basket featuring a variety of snacks – most of which were brands of much higher quality than what you’d find on any other domestic airline.

First class beverage and snack service

First class beverage and snack service on this short one hour flight

The rest of this short one hour and five minute flight was spent In a state of half-sleep, and I was thinking how much of a shame it was that it wasn’t any longer. Life was pretty good up in seat 1A!

We hit runway 28L at SFO about 17 minutes behind schedule, and were docked at the gate within a matter of minutes.

Approaching 28L at SFO

Approaching 28L at SFO over the water

approaching the sea wall at 28L at SFO

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to approach 28L at SFO like this without thinking about Asiana 214

san francisco arrival

Welcome to San Francisco!

Pulling up to the gate

Pulling up to the gate at terminal 2

Inside terminal 2 at SFO

Inside terminal 2 at SFO. I’ve never been to this terminal before, but first impressions were good. Very clean, bright, and spacious.

All in all, I was very satisfied with my first ever Virgin America flight – and I stepped off the plane very much looking to my next one which would come two days later.

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