Virgin America A320 Main Cabin (economy class) SFO-PDX

Virgin America A320 Main Cabin (economy class) SFO-PDX

Having just experienced a really good flight up from San Diego on Virgin America flight number 352, I felt like a well-satisfied #avgeek as I was standing at gate 51B at SFO ready to board my connecting flight to PDX. That flight was everything I was hoping for in terms of an “undiluted” Virgin America experience – I was worried that the more sterile Alaska Airlines brand and culture might have already started seeping into the foundation of VX, but luckily, I didn’t find that to be the case.

I didn’t have to wait long to board the flight to Portland. My connection time was just a tick over an hour, which gave me just the right amount of time to use the restroom, eat an apple, and get my things situated and organized.

Creating the content for these trip reports is a complicated process, and by the end of a flight I’ve usually got cameras and dead batteries stuffed in every little nook and cranny of my backpack. These layovers give me the chance to swap out the dead camera batteries for fresh ones, and put everything back where it should be for easy access on the next flight. Organization is key when trip-reporting!

gate 51B terminal 2 SFO
Standing room only here at gate 51B as I wait for boarding to begin.

San Francisco, CA (SFO) – Portland, OR (PDX)
Saturday, August 13, 2016
Aircraft: A320-214
Duration: 1 hour 16 minutes
Registration: N845VA
Seat: 15F (economy class)

Virgin America A320 side view
Virgin America A320 side view illustration by
SFO to PDX air route
Our route from SFO to PDX today: TRUKN2 GRTFL MACHU TMBRS2
dot pattern window tint SFO
Our ride to PDX. I really (really) hate the dot pattern window tint which is becoming more popular at major airports these days. Not only does it make photography nearly impossible, it’s very difficult to see through!

The boarding process for this flight was somewhat more streamlined than what I had experienced for VX352 down in San Diego this morning. Instead of calling four boarding groups before getting to the “priority” group, the order was simply 1). passengers needing extra time to board, 2). first class. Much better this time!

boarding the flight
Now boarding!
jet bridge mood lighting SFO
Even the jet bridge had a pink / purple glow to it. How cool is that?
Pausing for a moment to snap a quick pic of this Virgin America A320.

And if there’s one thing I have to compliment Virgin America for, it’s consistency of aircraft presentation. By that I mean that for every flight, the visual appearance of the cabin is exactly the same. No matter if it’s a flight in the middle of the night or the middle of the day, the window shades are shut and the LED mood lighting is illuminating the cabin with a sultry purple and pink glow as the first passengers step onboard. It’s very cool to board a dark airplane in the middle of the day!

boarding virgin america a320
I love how the purple LED mood lighting oozes from the main boarding door even in bright sunlight!
Virgin America A320 main cabin
Virgin America A320 main cabin.
Virgin America main cabin seats
Virgin America main cabin seats.

My seat for this flight up to Portland was 15F, a main cabin (economy class) seat about two-thirds down the aisle. I already knew what my view out the window was going to be like before I even sat down since I had seat 15A on the way up from San Diego this morning.

Speaking of sitting down and getting situated, usually one the first things I do when plopping my butt down in a window seat is to have a good look outside (and maybe grab a few pics for the trip report as the ground crew loads the aircraft). But in this dark cabin, with the mood set in such a cool fashion by the drawn window shades and cool LED mood lighting, an open window would wreck all that in an instant with all the sunlight pouring in. I really liked the ambiance of the dark cabin, and I wanted to help preserve it for other passengers, so I did my best to resist the urge to open my window shade before pushback.

virgin america economy class
My view from seat 15F right after sitting down. Most of the window shades are still drawn so there’s plenty of purple and pink LED mood lighting filling the cabin still. #cool
virgin america a320 seat pitch
Leg room (seat pitch) was exactly the same as the flight up from San Diego. Shocking, right?
virgin america seat pitch economy class
Here’s a slightly wider angle view of the seat pitch. Not too shabby for economy class.
virgin america personal video screens
The in-flight entertainment system (Red) isn’t active during the boarding process, so every passenger is forced to watch an assortment of looping advertisements that can’t be turned off.
virgin america handheld remote
I still couldn’t get over the fact that there were handheld remotes for the entertainment system in every seat. Very cool little perk IMHO.

We pushed off the gate just a few minutes late, but no matter. The pilots were still saying we’d be arriving into PDX right on time, and besides – I wasn’t in a rush anyway so being a little late didn’t bother me any.

taxiing at SFO
Alright – finally pushed back from the gate and on our way!
virgin america Red
Red was activated during taxi, immediately after the safety video played. Such a good looking splash screen (I’m a visual designer, so I appreciate stuff like that).

It was shaping up to be a beautiful morning in the San Francisco bay area as we departed off runway 1R, with beautiful puffy banks of fog hugging the surrounding mountains.

san francisco airport departure 1R
Starting the take off roll on 1R.
SFO 1R departure
Thankfully that fog in the distance was far enough away that it didn’t interfere with photography. The sun position, on the other hand…
SFO 1R departure
It looked to be a perfect morning for a boat cruise on the bay!

I managed to get a few decent pics as we departed, but once we turned north all good photo opportunities ceased. I was looking straight into the sun at that point, and combined with the scratched up plastic on the window, getting nice pics was all but impossible. Oh well. That just gave me the opportunity to explore Red (Virgin America’s in flight entertainment system).

A320 window shade
I should have chosen a seat on the other side of the aircraft. Photography is nearly impossible looking straight into the sun!

On the flight up from SAN earlier this morning, the limited playing I did with Red led me to believe that there wasn’t a moving map available to track the progress of the flight. I couldn’t find it! But on this flight, I discovered that the button for the moving map was actually a hard key (physical button) on the seat just below the video screen. Nice!

virgin america a320 seat back
The button on the far right is the one for the moving map feature.
virgin america moving map
I’m not quite sure what it is about the moving map feature that mesmerizes me so much…
virgin america flight summary screen
I also liked the flight summary screen, which was a part of the map feature.

The flight attendants came through the cabin about 20 minutes after departure offering free beverages, and once again I had water. I’m just a wild and crazy guy, aren’t I?

Complimentary bottled water
Complimentary bottled water.
virgin america a320 wing
A quick peek at the view out the window about half way through the flight.
virgin america a320 cabin
The LED mood lighting in the cabin was still rather bright even will all the open window shades.

I dozed on and off for the remainder of the flight, and woke up just as we were beginning our descent into PDX. It’s been a while since I’ve been in Oregon, and I forgot how many beautiful mountains and volcano peaks there are in this part of the country! It was pretty much impossible to get decent pics since I was still looking straight into the sun, but it was pretty nonetheless.

flying over Oregon
Starting to see some texture in the landscape down there!
view from the wing
This is a really bad pic (sorry), but some of those volcano peaks in the distance were very impressive.
flying over columbia river
Following the Columbia River all the way into PDX.
PDX approach
On short final now…
PDX airport arrival
Welcome to hot and sunny Portland! I love the north/south contrails in the sky above…
delta md90 at PDX
Pulling up next to a Delta Airlines MD-90.
deplaning virgin america A320
Waiting my turn to get off this plane and start my mini-vacation.
virgin america white seat backs
Virgin America A320 main seat backs and video screens – sure looks good when walking up the aisle!

Upon deplaning I found myself inside the airport with a craving for lunch. Thankfully this airport has some pretty good places to get a healthy meal, and I ended up finding a decently tasty salmon plate for a slightly obnoxious price. As I started digging into that, I gradually fell out of trip report mode and started looking forward to the next two days of relaxing and exploring this beautiful state…

PDX airport food
A very tasty (and expensive) salmon plate for lunch. This hit the spot!

Thanks for the ride Virgin America!

Comments (2)

  1. Tim

    August 29, 2016
    • SANspotter

      August 31, 2016

Give a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.