Virgin America A319 first class San Diego to San Francisco

Virgin America A319 first class San Diego to San Francisco

I know I know I know. It was about a year and a half ago when I wrote a sappy and somewhat tearful AvGeek goodbye to Virgin America, and at that time I thought for sure that I would never fly this airline again. Virgin America isn’t like the others, and I was totally crushed when it was announced that they were purchased by Alaska Airlines and that a “merger” would be taking place.

Now, I’ve seen a lot of these types of acquisitions take place over the years, and I’ve come to learn that the airline being acquired is usually as good as dead at that point, and there will be no actual merging happening at all.

They will be wiped off the face of the planet, leaving very little evidence behind that they even existed in the first place. Thankfully the process is as slow as molasses, which allowed me this opportunity to fly them yet again here in 2018. This will be the last time though. I really mean it this time.

San Diego, CA (SAN) – San Francisco, CA (SFO)
Friday, February 23, 2018
Aircraft: A319-112
Registration: N525VA
Duration: 1 hour 11 minutes
Seat: 2F (first class)

virgin america a319 side view
Virgin America A319 (N525VA) side view illustration by Go ahead – print it out and hang it on your wall, and weep with me for the loss of yet another great airline.
SAN-SFO route map

What better way is there to bid adieu to an old friend than to do it in swanky white-leather first class? The Virgin America first class product is getting old and crusty around the edges, but it’s still one of my favorites because of how those bold white seats look when drenched in deep blue and pink mood lighting. But I’m getting waaaay ahead of myself here – I need to tell you all the juicy details about the pre-flight experience!

*10 second pause while I try to think of a good way to talk enthusiastically about the pre-flight experience*

You know what? There isn’t anything about the pre-flight experience for this segment that stands out as being completely different than any of the 20,000 other times I’ve flown out of this airport, but I gotta post the pics in order to make this trip report complete. Here we go!

Entrance to terminal two San Diego airport
Eventually I’m going to be so famous that there will be airport employees standing here to greet me as I walk in. I’m not quite to that point yet.
Virgin America check in terminal two E. San Diego airport
Guess who arrived early again? I didn’t think I was that early, but there’s nobody here yet!
Virgin America flights from San Diego
It’s not going to be long now until those Virgin America logos will be wiped off the board for good. R.I.P Virgin America.  A fine airline you were.

My biggest conundrum of the morning was trying to figure out what to do about breakfast. Or was it lunch? I was confused as heck considering that this flight was scheduled to depart just after 12pm, and I already had breakfast before coming to the airport this morning.

It was still a bit too early to eat lunch, but I had to eat something because I had a very short connection time at SFO and there may not be a chance to eat again until I reach Phoenix tonight. If this were 1975 I’d get a full slab of carved-to-order roast beast on both segments today, but this is 2018 and I know that pretzels and water is as good as it’s going to get. Camden Food Company to the rescue.

Camden food company San Diego airport
I promise you that there will be no pictures of a Healthwhich in today’s trip report, but I had to include an obligatory pic of Camden Food Company anyway.

I didn’t realize it before coming to the airport today, but unfortunately Virgin America has been kicked out of their nice digs in terminal 2 west and are now situated in a dumpy common-use gate over in terminal 2 east. My guess is that this is because of the fact that Alaska Airlines will be moving to terminal 2 east sometime later this year, and since VX is essentially AS now after the elimination merger, it makes things easier.

SANspotter selfie San Diego international airport
How perfect would it have been if that was a Virgin America airplane instead? There aren’t any good photo spots in terminal 2 east, so I hung out here in terminal 2 west for a bit while I ate breakfast.
SANspotter selfie SAN
Trying desperately to get some interesting pics of terminal 2 east.  How obvious is it that I’m bored?
Virgin America a319 San Diego airport
I wonder where all of those police investigation shows on TV get their software that does all that cool “enhancing” (the kind that can zoom in on a sesame seed on a bagel from our space). This pic was the best I could get of my ride up to SFO, and as you can see, it desperately needs an enhancement or two.
Virgin America terminal to San Diego
Here’s another attempt from the other angle. I’m not a fan of terminal 2 east!
Virgin America gate San Diego international airport
Note the speakers sitting on the podium below the sign. Virgin America is the only airline I know with boarding music at the gate, and I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that Alaska Airlines won’t be incorporating this anytime soon.
SANspotter selfie SAN terminal 2 east
Terminal 2 west is so much better.
 Virgin America mobile boarding pass
It matches my shoes!

Having been so used to having Virgin America on the other side of terminal 2, it felt really weird to board this airplane over here in the dumpy side. It was totally wrong in every way, and I believe that I was pouting a bit as I was walking down the jet bridge.

But once I saw all of that beautiful pink and blue mood lighting, everything was right again with the world. It was really good to be back on Virgin America again.

San Diego international airport jet bridge
This airport is in desperate need of glass jet bridges. Either that or some nice lighting and colorful posters with puppies and sunshine.
Virgin America a319 San Diego international Airport
These kinds of pictures are actually really difficult to take, because I have to try and position the lens of my camera in between the dense wire in the glass while my left hand waves people by. I feel bad holding up the line trying to get silly trip report pictures!
Virgin America airbus boarding door
The John Travolta / Saturday Night Fever vibe kicks in right about now.
Virgin America transparent purple bulkhead
Is there anyone on earth doesn’t love these translucent purple bulkheads? How much you wanna bet that we won’t be seeing these on Alaska Airlines?
Virgin America a319 first-class cabin
OK, who opened their window shades? Don’t they know that it’s totally inconsiderate to let that beautiful pink and blue mood lighting escape during the boarding process?
Virgin America white first class seats
Super-fresh Virgin America first class seats draped in all white leather. I’m not totally convinced that it’s actually leather, but it’s close enough.
Virgin America first class seat
Looks like my seatmate and I share the same classy taste in neon-red footwear.

It’s probably a good thing that the cabin was dark and disco-y, because it seemed as if these white leather first class seats were really showing their age and they didn’t look as pure and clean as I remember. It must be a total pain in the ass to keep these seats clean, and I know for a fact that it’s a job that I wouldn’t want. I was almost tempted to stuff a $10 bill down the cracks as a tip to the next guy or gal who had to scrub these things down between flights.

Virgin America first class entertainment remote control
Buttons and gadgets in the armrests. Everything is well-padded in a 2005 GM SUV sort of way, but it’s all good.
Virgin America first class seat massage
Massage anyone? Even though they look a bit dated, the seats are very functional. On a side note, if you’ve ever been curious about what it’s like to take pictures for a trip report, check out the display on my GoPro sitting right there next to the armrest. We haven’t even taken off yet and you can see that I’ve taken 106 pictures so far. #facepalm
Virgin America first class leg room
If there’s one thing that Virgin America does a lot better than any of the other domestic US airlines, it’s the generous amount of legroom up here in first class.
Virgin America first class seat back
Wait, didn’t I just post a pic of an entertainment system remote control? What’s the deal with that if there aren’t any video screens? Good question! The video screens are actually located in the armrest between the seats – something that many first time flyers on Virgin America don’t even realize. It’s definitely not obvious!
QVirgin America a319 safety card
Why can’t Delta, United, or American add color to their safety cards like this? Lucky for them there will be many of these available very soon that they can probably pick up for a decent price…
Virgin America blue headphones
Damn, there’s even color on the complementary headphones! Why do all the fun airlines have to die?
Virgin America first class boarding process
My window shades are normally wide open during the boarding process, but not today. I do love me some sunshine and wing views, but pink and blue mood lighting is way better.

First class was completely full today, and we pushed off gate right on time. Being on time was critically important, as I only had about an hour connection time at SFO. Even though American Airlines shares the same terminal as Virgin America up there, these were two completely separate tickets and there was nothing protecting me if this flight arrived late.

If I missed that American Airlines flight down to Phoenix today, things could’ve got messy. Anyone who flies to San Francisco on a regular basis knows how much of a gamble this really was, because Bay Area fog is no joke and it cripples SFO at times causing massive delays.

Virgin America at San Diego airport
Do yourself a favor and run over to YouTube to find the Virgin America safety video. That’ll be some nice background music for the next few pics…
Virgin America departing San Diego
The departure sequence is always so much better with a colorful engine, don’t you think?
Departing San Diego airport
You all know that I am a total aviation nerd, but I’ve got to be honest – I’m not sure if I could live in one of those houses down there right underneath the flightpath like this. The noise would get annoying after a while I think…
Flying over La Jolla California
It may look like a beautiful sunshiny and warm Southern California day, but it was brutally cold out there with temperatures in the 50s. That’s cold for San Diego!
Departing San Diego airport over Mission Bay
One last look at Mission Bay as we get pointed north on our way to San Francisco.

It was yet another beautiful departure out of San Diego International Airport today, and it ended up being a fairly smooth ride for most of the way up. The service began within 10 minutes of departure with the flight attendant coming around with a snack basket full of goodies and a lot of encouragement to grab all we wanted.

I stayed conservative with only one bag of veggie chips, but one of the guys across the aisle was pounding back those bags of popcorn like they were nothing. The flight attendant was happy to keep slinging them, so everyone was having a good time.

Virgin America first class snack
Veggie chips and water. Trying my best to stay healthy, though I’m pretty sure that those veggie chips were just as bad as the potato variety. Who are they trying to fool?
Flying over Los Angeles
Quick! Find LAX!
Virgin America first class experience
Sadly all of that gorgeous LED mood lighting leaked out, leaving my shoes as the only dash of color in here.
Virgin America first class bathroom
If you’re curious, the lighting theme in the lavatory was “incandescent yellow.”
Virgin America first class cabin
The guy sitting next to me was absolutely huge, and I’m pretty sure that he would’ve been miserable back in economy.

San Diego to San Francisco flights always go by in a blur, and before I knew it we were beginning our approach into what looked like a very clear day up here in Northern California.

Flying into San Francisco
We’re definitely on the approach into SFO now.
San Francisco airport parallel approach
Bogey at 4 O’clock!
Airplane shadow
Chasing our shadow on the way in. Or was our shadow chasing us?

I was thanking my lucky stars as we were coming in over the bay with nary a fog bank in sight, because if we were going to be delayed at this point, it would only be because of a nasty crash. All jokes aside, that’s probably what a lot of people were thinking onboard Asiana flight 216 five years ago at this very same moment. It’s amazing how things can go wrong so quickly when you least expect it. Always be prepared folks.

Flying into San Francisco on Virgin America
Welcome to San Francisco!
My last flight on Virgin America
While I was very glad that we arrived on time, I was not so glad that this was truly my last flight ever on Virgin America.
Walking off Virgin America flight
I wonder if they’ll let me take any of that mood lighting with me as a souvenir?

So that was it. I guarantee that was my last ever Virgin America flight, if only because Virgin America will officially no longer exist after April 25th (that’s when all VX flights will have AS flight numbers). Sure there will be a lot of airplanes flying around for a while that still that look like this one, but the Virgin America brand is just weeks away from being as dead as a door knob.

I’m not really sure what’s been going on in the US airline industry over the last 10 years or so, but all I know is that I don’t like it. We need more airlines in this country – not fewer! Competition is what fuels progress and I’m worried that having just a few major airlines here in the US will prevent innovation and give little incentive for great customer service (which is already severely lacking).

Anyone wanna go halfsies on a new airline with me?

Comments (2)

  1. Dean

    April 16, 2018
    • SANspotter

      April 16, 2018

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