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!
San Francisco, CA (SFO) – Portland, OR (PDX)
Saturday, August 13, 2016
Duration: 1 hour 16 minutes
Seat: 15F (economy class)
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
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?
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.
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…
Thanks for the ride Virgin America!