There’s nothing worse for a traveler than canceling a trip at the very last moment

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I was totally on a roll. After a slow start to the year, I kicked off my 2016 travels with a quick trip to Mexico City in March, followed up by another quick 747 adventure to Chicago and back in April. I hadn’t even finished uploading the trip reports for the Chicago trip when the time for my next adventure came on May 28th, and I was super excited to be hitting the road again. Sounds a bit crazy considering this is all personal travel (I don’t travel for business), but that’s the kind of busy travel schedule I like! You see, as a travel blogger, there’s something very satisfying about traveling faster than I can post – it hard to explain for anyone who doesn’t write trip reports, but having more content than I can handle at one time is one of the best feelings in the world since it means that it’ll be a while before I start running out of content to post.

On top of that, my good friend Josh has been posting some really good SAN-based trip reports on his blog recently (flapsupsan.com), and reading stuff like that had been making my itch to travel even stronger – I was  super-ready to take to the skies again!

Unfortunately, I started not feeling well during the two weeks leading up to this trip and many visits to the doctor during that time revealed that I had a significant enough condition which might ground my travels for a while – at least until I could get things sorted out. He told me I was fine to travel if I felt good enough to go through with it, and as a matter of fact, I fully planned on going right up until the the day came. First, I checked in at about 22 hours before departure:

virgin america mobile website

Did you know that Virgin America does NOT have a mobile app? Surprising to me as well, but their mobile website is very good and check in was a breeze on my iPhone.

Then, later that evening, I even wrote the introductory post for this trip report. I felt totally committed at that point, as these blog posts take quite a bit of time to put together and it would have been pointless to write it if I wasn’t feeling well enough to go. Here’s that introductory post:

01: Introduction: Saying goodbye to Virgin America
02: Virgin America A320 Main Cabin (economy class) SAN-SFO
03: Virgin America A320 Main Cabin (economy class) SFO-PDX
04: Hotel Modera, downtown Portland
05: Aloft Portland Airport
06: Virgin America A320 Main Cabin Select (premium economy) PDX-SFO
07: Virgin America A320 Main Cabin Select (premium economy) SFO-PDX
On April 4th of this year, it was announced to the world that Alaska Airlines paid 2.5 billion dollars to purchase Virgin America outright and wipe them off the face of the earth for good. Two point five BILLION dollars. Is that crazy or what? I talked briefly about that acquisition last month when I posted my personal favorite Virgin America Photos from San Diego International Airport, so I’ll spare you from further commentary on the subject. Let me just say that VX is my favorite airline here in the US, and I’m not at all enthusiastic about this deal at all.
Unlike other recent airline mergers, this is the first one that has happened since I’ve been doing trip reports and reviews at a semi-serious level. Of course the American Airlines and USAirways merger had just gotten underway shortly after I launched SANspotter.com in 2011, but back then I didn’t appreciate the historical aspect of a good trip report and airline review. I was perfectly content to write a 400 word essay of my travels, throw in a couple pictures, and leave it at that. But man – what if I had been writing full trip reports (1500+ words with 50+ pictures) back when I was flying around on America West, Continental, and Northwest Airlines? How cool would mega-detail old trip reports of now-defunct airlines be today? Long story short, I decided that I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to document an airline that will be going away very soon, and my hope was to create a “time-capsule” type of trip report that will preserve the feeling of what it was like to fly on Virgin America while they were still in their prime.
Avid readers of my blog know that I’ve already flown and reviewed two flights on Virgin America in the summer of 2014 (SAN-SFO, and SFO-SAN). However, both of those flights were in First Class, so I’ve decided that in order to make my entire Virgin America trip report series complete, I need to try their Main Cabin (economy class) and Main Cabin Select (premium economy) products as well. This should give me a fairly decent perspective of what Virgin America is all about in all classes of service, and once complete, I should have this airline fairly well-documented on this blog.
With the decision made, the question became this: where should I go? VX doesn’t have a very robust schedule so my choices of destinations for this trip were somewhat limited. I was originally thinking of saving this review for a trip to Florida I have coming up in July, but can you believe that it’s not possible to fly From SAN to MCO the same day on this airline? The problem is that the first flight out of SAN doesn’t arrive into SFO in time enough to make the once-daily connection to MCO. So that was out – if I wanted to do a full trip report on Virgin America, it would have to be a trip specific to that purpose.
Thanks to the discovery of some really cheap fares up and down the west coast during Memorial Day weekend, I decided that PDX (Portland, OR) would be my destination for this trip. It’s been a long (long) time since I’ve last been to the city of Portland and I thought this could be a fantastic opportunity to spend a long weekend there to get reacquainted with the city.
Here’s the full itinerary:
05/28/16 VX352 A320 Main Cabin (economy class) SAN-SFO
05/28/16 VX219 A320 Main Cabin (economy class) SFO-PDX
05/30/16 VX22 A320 Main Cabin Select (premium economy) PDX-SFO
05/30/16 VX751 A320 Main Cabin Select (premium economy) SFO-SAN
It never occurred to me to take the time to write a full and comprehensive review of USAirways before they were completely absorbed by American (my quick USAirways trip report in late 2013 doesn’t really count), so this trip was my chance to document a great airline in their final months of service. Of course I knew that these kinds of mergers *cough* acquisitions *cough* take years to complete, but I expected that as of this moment, Virgin America is still as pure and independent as it ever was. It’s also likely that Alaska Airlines will be starting to roll out changes to VX service soon, so doing this trip report before those changes started taking hold was important.
It’s a good thing that I’ve already flown this airline before because this is the part where I’d write a really bad joke about losing my Virgin America virginity…

The morning of departure I woke up feeling good enough to go, so I quickly showered and made my way down to the airport. I didn’t start having second thoughts about it all until I was standing in line at the security checkpoint, but I struggled through it thinking that I’d feel better if I could just sit down for a moment once I got through. Long story short, sitting down for about 30 minutes for a light breakfast in the food court didn’t help at all, and I slowly started coming to the realization that getting on that airplane would be a bad idea.

virgin america at san diego airport

These are the only pics I took before deciding to abort this trip

I was feeling pretty low at that point for several reasons:

  1. Much of this trip was pre-paid, so deciding not to go meant wiping my *** with approximately $600. Getting credit for the airline tickets was possible, but the hotels and car rental were pre-paid and nonrefundable. Damn.
  2. Lost content for this blog. I was depending on this trip to keep the content flowing here on SANspotter.com, and without it meant that there will likely be some gaps in my upload schedule until I can start traveling again.

I physically felt terrible enough for none of that to matter though, so I decided to call the whole thing off while standing at the gate ready to board the plane. It was such a low moment for me, especially since this was a trip I had been planning for weeks. There’s nothing more I love in life than hopping on an airplane and heading off somewhere to explore for a few days, and giving that up in favor of going back home and crawling into bed was a hard pill to swallow. I felt broken. Defeated. Lost.

But that’s the way things go sometimes. We can’t always get what we want, and sometimes it’s best to slow down and focus on what’s really important in life. My health is more important to me than any trip (and trip report) could ever be, so deciding to cancel this adventure to Portland was the right thing to do.

Even though I had to cancel this trip at the last moment, I’m still planning on going through with it – probably sometime this summer, so be on the lookout for that!

 

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