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LAX-SFO-SEA on VX (Lots of Pics)

Posted by bluewhale 
LAX-SFO-SEA on VX (Lots of Pics)
December 27, 2010 08:36AM
As we were walking down Sepulveda Blvd, we walked under an overpass that was the street that led to the airport. Luckily, there were stairs so we decided to go up them and see what was up there since we were not 100% sure how to walk to back to the airport. Once we got up there, we were on the road and there were sidewalks, so we decided to follow it to the airport.


Sea of taxicabs taken from the overpass


Here’s the road – there were cops who had a checkpoint here just to create a sense of security, but they didn’t stop anybody and they weren’t interested in us either.


Gate 1 from the road

As we were walking on the road, we passed by the Park One parking lot, and Reed wanted to get pictures of several cars as well. Even with stopping to get pictures of cars, we were at Terminal 1 within 10 to 15 minutes, which was a lot shorter than what we had anticipated. We could have still been at In N Out like I had wanted, but it was still true that arrivals had really dropped off since the lunch hour.


Once we were in the airport grounds by the terminal on the arrivals level, they had planters with the LAWA (Los Angeles World Airports, who owns and operates LAX, ONT, and PMD) logo.


Arrivals level of Terminal 1

When we passed by one of the open doors at Terminal 1, I decided to walk through the terminal, rather than the sidewalk, and Reed did too. I had never been inside Terminal 1, and I also saw this as a grand opportunity to swoop some luggage tags from different airlines. Since we were also downstairs on the arrivals level, we needed to get up to the departures level anyway, so we used the stairs in this terminal. In Terminal 1, I got several from US Airways.


Terminal 1 after coming up the stairs from the baggage claim area – they put Los Angeles repeatedly above the doors to remind you which one of the 4 LA area airports, BUR, LGB, LAX, or SNA, you were at.

After taking a right hand turn, we came to the US ticket counters, where I picked up several luggage tags.


These counters were empty but there were ones to the right of this picture that were on duty.

After that, we went out the door to walk down to Terminal 2. I know from past trips that in between Terminal 1 and 2, there’s a really good area that is really close to the planes, so we stopped there for a few minutes.


We were really lucky because there was a 747-400 parked in the gate closest to the street!


Theme building across the street


Here’s that same AF plane


And N229WN again


Here’s the NZ 747-400 – we were hoping that this one would land on 24R because I saw it on flightaware, but it instead landed on the other side. Next time, we should definitely have a scanner.


It seems like most American airports nowadays don’t have spots like this except here at LAX.


Only here can you get close to a 747 without having to have special permission or be an employee


Massive wings, engines, and winglet


Winglet

We also decided to walk inside Terminal 2, so I could get more luggage tags and to also see what the inside of this terminal looks like. Here I got some from Air Canada, and Air France.


Here’s Terminal 2 with NZ’s and VS’s ticket counters. Air New Zealand also had a VIP ticket counter for first class passengers next to the door that we went in.


I liked the pictures that they had on the ticket counter


This garden right by the security checkpoint was also really cool.

As we kept walking, Terminal 2 immediately turned into Terminal 3, and we were now in AS’s section. Here, I got tags from AirTran. (as well as a ticket jacket that I used to hold my passes for both flights on Virgin America!)

Since we already had our tickets, we went directly to the base of the stairs where the old guy sitting there checked them. We then went up the stairs, where security surprisingly was short and quiet, and not that chaotic. Waiting to get to a metal detector took 5 minutes, and waiting to get through and afterwards, getting everything together took another 5 minutes. 10 minutes – a new record for security at LAX! Luckily the terminal was pretty quiet at the time and there were not many people at all. The TSA were also helpful and courteous since the stress level was pretty low. There was one guy who was there to help streamline our bin usage to help cut down the amount of times they would have to retrieve the used ones on the airside and cause more waits. He said that shoes did not have to go in the bin, and neither did carry-ons or backpacks. Really, the reason why they have bins now is just for things like liquids, laptops, jackets, coats, or anything else that would cause a mess if it weren’t in a container going through the x-ray. Again, like in SEA, LAX had full body scanners, but they were just sitting in front of the metal detector inactive.


There Patrick, I’ve finally taken a picture of the security area, but only with the iPhone. Those blue closet-like structures are the full body scanners and you stand in between the the two on the black mat.

After gathering our bearings, we went to our gate which was 36. This particular gate is quite awkward and it is nearly impossible to see the plane. Our waiting area was in a separate hallway from the round terminal, and was next to two other gates that weren’t ours. Since it was around 3:30 and boarding wasn’t until 5:05, our plane was definitely not here yet, so I decided to do some spotting and walking around the terminal, while Reed just stayed in the general vicinity of our gate and spotted from there.


N529VA is parked at the gate next to our waiting corridor. This plane’s name is really funny with the moodlights. I also did not know that the big square to the right of the airplane’s name was a static port.


All of the planes that can park in this gate – obviously this is a narrow body only gate. Why would they put the CRJ-700 with the MD-80 instead of putting the B717 there instead?


Virgin America A319


Alitalia and KLM, plus an AF 77W tail peeking over the Alitalia plane, and an AC tail peeking over the 747 – Terminal 2 is the relief International terminal to the Tom Bradley one.


This is quite special and was really happy to see this– a HA A330-200! Right now, there are only 2 of these in the air and they only fly HNL-LAX and HNL-LAS.


This is N381HA – HA’s second A330.


Another angle of this plane – you can see this plane’s CFM engines, and many satellite pods on the roof.


A320 – nothing much else to be said


A WN 73G – N757LV


CRJ-900 – this one is good compared all of the ones at In N Out

Now I started my way over to the other side of Terminal 3 where all of AS’s gates are. Several of these pictures were taken from a really good spot in the hallway in between the AS gate and the FL gate. This corridor has windows that overlook the taxiways and the runways.


Grabbed this shot on the way there – plenty going on.


I’m glad I was able to see so many special liveries while I was here.


QX Q400 – I think this one was headed to Mammoth Lakes, and there was one parked to the right of that one headed to RNO.


This is Air Drake – N639VA isn’t even in the a.net database yet!


Here’s AS’s side of Terminal 3. I remember the time when the radar system for all of Southern California went down and all flights were grounded. When that happened, this terminal was super packed and it looked like a refuge center, as all seats were taken and there were dozens of people sitting in circles on the floor, and along the windows and walls. That AirTran ticket counter to the right of this picture used to belong to AS. Once I was done shooting the Eva plane, I went to the corridor under where it says 33A, and I got several pictures there.


AZ 772 starting to leave for its journey back to FCO


B6 A320 trying to get ready to push for JFK – this flight was also late.


WSU plane again – they should be flying that around GEG, not down here!


The 777’s trademark APU valve


Eva 777-300 starting its taxi to 24L


The 777-300ER is a much more impressive aircraft in person!


Luckily they don’t have to use the rudder pedals to turn this beast, like I have to do in the Cessna!


B737-300 with winglets – had the pleasure to fly on one last time. Due to the winglets, the untrained eye may mistake them for a 737-700.


KLM 747-400 PH-BFT, named the “City of Tokyo” – also there’s a SQ A340-500 on short final for 24L.


This plane is being pushed back for the start of its journey back across the pond.


Singapore A340-500 on 24R


Another 737 Classic with winglets


Head on of the same Q400 at gate 32 headed to Mammoth Lakes – those are some really tall jetways in the back compared to this thing parked in front of me!


It’s starting to get a little hectic, especially with that caravan of police vehicles by the Southwest plane.


Here’s the my ride to SFO – N524VA named “Dark Horse”


Here comes the caravan – it’d be really cool to be able to drive on the tarmac like that, but I would be so distracted!


Here’s a hearse – they were loading a casket onto a WN plane down at Terminal 1.


This plane just arrived from PDX


Here’s N548AS, the 737-800 that replaced N774AS, the original .com plane.


N649JB pushing back for JFK as flight 674 about an hour late


Air China 747-400 just arrived as flight 983 from PEK and is taxiing to Terminal 2


United Express EMB-120 – I wonder what this would look like in the CO paint scheme.


Another special paint scheme – AeroMexico’s Go Visa 737-700

Since my spotting location was by the B6 gate, B6 had a cart of headphones next to the gate. These headphones were the same ones as at VX, although VX offered them in three different colors, whereas B6’s were purely black. VX also had them in a Plexiglas box on wheels and had them on sale for $2. I decided to grab the B6 ones, and I’m glad I did because VX’s IFE would be nothing without headphones.


KLM 747-400 taxiing to 24L for a departure back to AMS as flight 602

After running around the terminal spotting for an hour and a half, I was tired and decided to find Reed and sit down. He was playing games on his iTouch right where I saw him last. So I sat down next to him and we talked and I surfed the net on my phone for 10 minutes. By then, the CSAs at VX were getting ready to start boarding for our flight to SFO. We were now getting so excited, because we both had read all of the trip reports on a.net about VX, with the mood lights and whatnot! After 5 minutes, they welcomed us to the flight and started boarding for all F passengers and Y passengers in Main Cabin Select, which is essentially their version of Economy Plus, with free food, free movies and TV shows on demand, and one free checked bag. VX also had the usual display that showed you whether or not your bag was small enough to fit in the overhead bin. However, there was also an advertisement above it that read “Let your bag fly with bags their own size, check it in!” I thought it was pretty funny and that was a new approach to trying to sell checked bags. Boarding at VX is done from the rear forward, and they use Groups A through E, with E farthest to the rear. After another 5 minutes, they called my group, which was C.

Virgin America #945
December 15, 2010
Airbus A319 (N524VA, Dark Horse)
5:35PM-6:50PM
Gate: 36
Seat: 14A
[flightaware.com]

I went first, since I was now sitting in front of Reed. He also wanted to purchase a headset, but I already got my B6 one, which is again, the same ones that VX has, but in a different color.


Virgin America signage – our gate was at the end of a wall and there was a door in the corner that we went through. It was nearly impossible to even get a glimpse of the plane from our gate area. LAX has weird terminals.


The first thing that I thought when I saw this plane was “Oh my god!” I even said it, and the woman behind me (who’s also the same woman in the previous picture) could only smile at me.


There are no conventional lights in this plane at all. Even the reading lights are LED Xenon-ish lights, sort of like the blue-ish color of headlights that expensive cars have. Instantly, I thought that we were in a flying bar/dance club. However, it was kind of warm in the cabin, even though the outside temperature was just a mere 60 or so degrees.


At this point, I was really not shy at all in the least way about taking cabin pictures with people around me. I don’t care what they think, but they might be more forgiving because this is the only airline that has a fancy cabin like this.


These may possibly be the best F seats I have ever seen on a domestic flight. They are huge leather, massaging, fully power-operated seats that also have built-in footrests, exactly like a La-Z-Boy recliner. What does AS have? Just a beefier, wider, softer, larger version of their Y seats in F.


The Y seats are still none too shabby.


Rear of the seats – there were mesh pockets instead of your other normal sheet of upholstery pocket.

I got to my seat in row 14, and they were all empty so far. The rear wasn’t too full either, so I’m estimating that this flight was at about 75% to 80% full.


This is definitely one of the best cabins I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. It seemed like flying in this plane would cost way more than only the $90 I paid for LAX-SEA with a connection in SFO.


A look out the wing

Once I got settled in, I started to check everything out. VX does not supply their own inflight magazine or a SkyMall magazine because quite frankly, they don’t need to! Instead, they have free IFE on PTVs in the seatbacks, that are touchscreen, or you can use the remote that is in the armrest that doubles as a keyboard on the other side of said remote. The seat was quite comfortable, and soft as most leather seats are, but not lacking any cushion. The headrest was also height-adjustable, winged, and could tilt. However, it did not seem to stay tilted. I also got out my new B6 headphones and took them brand new out of the wrapper and plugged in. Boarding music was played, and it was this modern “ambient” music I guess, since it is a little hard to describe for someone not musical like me. It was a much different mood setter than AS playing the Christmas album from Kellie Pickler on the PDX-LAX flight, which was still good.


PTV – has games, TV shows, satellite TV, songs, radio stations, a flight map, a section that you could use to purchase food, and inflight chat, where you can chat either in a chat room, or in a one on one chat with another seat. However, you could only use the keyboard in the remote for typing.


Winglet has an American flag on it, and the theme building is all lit up.


This is the first plane I’ve ever been on that had the Turn Off All Electronics sign in lieu of the No Smoking sign. They still posted a non-lit No Smoking sign every other row.

At this point, the door was now shut and the flight deck was doing final paper work. The guy sitting in the aisle seat came first and got settled in, and a little later, much to both my and the guy in the aisle’s chagrin, someone was now sitting in the middle. He was an annoying guy in his mid-20s who kept talking on his cell phone so that everyone in his immediate vicinity could hear him. It was very easy to overhear the conversation that he was having with someone over some business conflict and that they needed to have a meeting about it. It was pure awkwardness sitting next to him when he was talking about that, since it was a little serious. He didn’t hang up until the exact moment that the F/As came down the aisle one last time to make sure all phones were off and everyone was strapped in so that they could show the safety video, which was quite funny and one of the best I’ve seen. I really recommend it and encourage you to watch it:
[www.youtube.com]


Terminal 2


Another company plane – I didn’t realize how bland their paint scheme is when compared to the interior. However, VX’s white paint is in reality, a pearlescent white instead of just a gloss which I thought was really cool. You can’t tell by seeing it at an airport or anything, so you need to actually board one to see the difference. I tried to take a picture of the paint when I got on board this plane, but I forgot to turn off the flash and it didn’t work. But I tried again in SFO and there will be a picture.


Tried to zoom on the wingfence, but it is getting dark for pictures!


Here’s the flight map!

We pushed back about 5 to 10 minutes later after the door was closed, and the F/As did their final walk-throughs. The F/As were a little like WN’s, in that they were cheerful, casual, and down-to-earth. The head F/A doing all the talking told all of the passengers to wave and yell hi to the lone F/A who was still in the back. They also said that it was a policy at Virgin America that they liked to name all of their planes, and they pointed out the fact that tonight, our plane was named “Dark Horse.” He also talked about the “Turn Off All Electronics” light, which meant that “All iPhones, iPods, iPads, iMacs and anything starting with the letter ‘I’ need to be shut off or turned on airplane mode.” Just like at WN, the majority of our F/As were also younger.


My camera is intermittent sometimes…


The only way I was able to get this to look this clear was through some heavy editing. This Air China 747 had just gotten done unloading pax in Terminal 2 and was now being towed to the remote stand to prep for its flight back to PEK at around 1 AM.

After that, we turned in the opposite direction of the 747 and started our taxi towards the threshold for runway 24L. While we were taxiing, there was really nothing much to see outside, so I looked up songs on the PTV. They had many different artists and bands from all genres and times.


With my B6 headphones, I listened to some Beach Boys during takeoff!


I’ve never been on an A319 before, so I did not know what to expect as far as a takeoff. As it turns out, the A319 was kind of like the 738, if not then only slightly stronger. This plane also had CFM engines, so I didn’t get the cool howling sound that I would have normally had with the IAE engines.


LAX’s lit pillars during our roll


There’s Terminal 2 one last time

This was pretty much your average takeoff, and within 10 seconds after liftoff, we were over the Pacific Ocean. About 5 minutes later, we banked right to start our journey northwest to SFO. During the flight, I mainly played around with the PTV to see what it had to offer. Satellite TV was free as were maybe one or two TV shows and movies on demand. They did however have a good sized list of other TV shows and movies on demand that started for $4 and went up to $7. Games were free and so was music. Also, since it was December, Google Chrome was sponsoring complimentary internet on board Virgin flights for the holidays, so I also read a little Facebook and of course, a.net on my phone winking smiley


We were now banking north to fly over Oxnard


This is our cruising altitude, FL380 and the temperature around the plane


And our ground speed in MPH, but not knots since the average person doesn’t know anything about measuring speed in knots.

Drink service came from the rear since this was an odd numbered flight. This flight was estimated to be 50 minutes according to the flightdeck, so there was only one service and then they came back for the trash.


Just got a Sprite – VX doesn’t serve any free food. To the left is the inflight guide that had all the information on food service, internet, how to work the PTV, and what channels were offered. Something that was cool was that they offered the CBS affiliate in New York City and a local CW affiliate from LA. I wanted to grab one on board the next flight, but for some weird reason they were not stocked in the seat pocket. Also, the safety card does indeed have pretty pictures as the safety video says. I got an extra one so that I can put it up in my room!

After another 15 minutes or so of a combination of watching the Airshow and watching How I Met Your Mother and The New Adventures of Old Christine on the PTV, we started our initial descent into SFO over Monterrey Bay. Again, the lead announced that “All iPhones, iPods, iPads, iMacs, and anything starting with the letter ‘I’ need to be shutoff and stowed.” This flight had gone by really quickly, especially because I have a PTV and scheduled time was less than an hour! You really do not need IFE on such a short flight. The F/As came through the cabin collecting the trash and they were done. This flight crew was definitely efficient, upbeat, and energetic, since this is also a new, upbeat, and energetic airline. In fact, after flying this airline, I look upon the other airlines like CO, and AS to be an old person’s airline because they are so conservative and bland and focus on customer service which is the most valued thing to an older person, whereas VX is a young persons’ airline since they focus on the technology aspect and keeping everything fresh, liberal, and energetic. You would definitely not see a sweet, old, lady confined to a wheelchair flying this airline.


Banking left over Foster City


Final for runway 28L – the famous bay approach

We slowly and smoothly touched down on runway 28L, and braked moderately. Reverse thrusters didn’t seem to be used, because we seemed to have had a slower speed touching down than usual. After that, we taxied into the International Terminal A, which was the same International terminal as when I visited previously, but in a different wing and was on the opposite side of the UA terminal. SFO is built somewhat like LAX in that you cannot hop to a different terminal on the airside. The only terminal that allows you to do that is Terminal 3 which has UA’s two piers, AA’s pier, and a sterile connection to the International Terminal G where many of UA’s widebody International flights and other Star Alliance International flights leave.


You can definitely tell that this is SFO’s new classy terminal because it has 3 levels: the ground level for the rampers, the second one for the gates, and the third one which is the main walkway, observation areas over every gate, and escalators down to the waiting area for each gate.


Now we’re parked at gate A3.

Once the seatbelt sign was off, the guy next to me wasted no time in getting out his phone again, this time to call his buddy for dinner. He had to tell his buddy that he managed to get on the earlier flight back here to SFO, and asked him if he wanted to go to a particular restaurant. It turns out that his buddy was currently at the gym, which the guy next to me said that was perfect because he was still on the plane, so they agreed to meet around 7:30.

Of course, we decided to stay on the plane for a few more minutes, partially because I had to locate some safety cards. winking smiley


Here are the beautiful seats

Naturally we needed to grab a picture of the flight deck, so we asked the Captain and we got in. This was his last leg, so he was not in a hurry and we talked for a few minutes. He even told us to sit in the seats and that he would get pictures of us! I have been waiting for that picture forever! Reed asked him how effective deploying the landing gear during descent would slow down the plane. He didn’t know the answer, but that immediately caused him to ask us if we were also pilots. I had the bragging rights to say that I had completed Stage I of my Private rating, whereas Reed hasn’t even done his first solo flight yet, and is therefore nowhere near finishing Stage I yet. In fact, I am only 1 of 5 out of a class of 35 flying students who have finished, because the weather has been uncooperative. (And because I am a good pilot winking smiley)


Where’s the flight yoke?


This flightdeck is so much nicer, bigger, and robust than the cockpit of a C-152. What I fly cannot even be called a flightdeck! Eventually, I’ll have the controls of an airliner and it will be flight levels above flying a Cessna.

As we were talking, the cleaning crew was trying to clean the plane and the only reason why the Captain still was there was to wait for everyone to get off the plane. By now, everyone was gone and the cleaning crew wanted us off, so we quickly thanked him and left.


Here’s “Dark Horse” at gate A3


Here’s another angle – I was reminded that SFO’s International Terminal has dotted windows like at DTW, which is a pain for taking pictures.

After taking those pictures, we went upstairs to the main hallway. Reed wanted to sit down and get reorganized, and I wanted to look at the 737-900 and the 747-400 that were parked further down the terminal, as well as looking for our next flight since we printed our tickets too early for them to assign a gate number. On my way there, I passed by 3 other 747-400s parked on the opposite side of the terminal from where A3 was. I was going to come back and look at those later.


Here’s the International Terminal – Again, this terminal is quite modern and relies on natural light during the day.

Before going to look at the planes, I saw a pretty sizeable souvenir store. It was full of special San Francisco merchandise, so I browsed to see what they had, since I had not yet done my Christmas shopping! Not to my surprise, everything was pretty overpriced, just like the last time I went through here. There were lots of clothes with either pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, or San Francisco typed on it somewhere, key chains, shot glasses, and all your typical souvenir type items. They also had a big section of different boxes of chocolates, and even a toys section that featured those little airport sets that we all used to play with. At this particular store, they had the one with the Air Force One 747 and the Delta 757. Another store closer to gate A10 also had a United 747, a Northwest 747, and a Continental 757. To show you that I really was in San Francisco, they even had a whole section devoted to Obama-themed and peace-themed merchandise, with shirts with his face on them, caps, and all sorts of apparel. It is well-known that San Francisco is one of the most liberal cities in the whole country, and California is definitely one of the most pronounced blue states. But seeing as how things were pretty overpriced, I decided not to buy anything.


AS 737-900 parked in widebody gate A7– this is one of three 737-900s (the others being 302 and 303) that have not and will not receive winglets because they were Boeing’s first three units produced, and thus have a different wing design, which makes them incompatible for winglet installation.


You can see condensation on the fuselage


China Airlines 747-400 at gate A9

So when I looked at the other 747s on the other side of the terminal (which was the even numbered side too), I found that one belongs to British Airways, one belongs to Philippines Airlines, and one belongs to Qantas.


Philippines 747-400 getting prepped for a red-eye back to Manila


I tried another shot further away from the window because of the dots


This shot came out pretty well – I kind of found it odd that the red-lined box to the right of the 1R door said “Cut here in emergency.”

I walked down to the next gate, and this one had the BA 744:

The first time I saw this plane, I thought the title had said ‘Air Force Scum’ and that struck me as really strange until I read it more carefully.


Departure screen – I learned that out flight would be leaving out of gate A10, which was at the end of the terminal furthest away from our old gate A3.

At this time, I met back up with Reed, who was sitting talking on the phone in one of the sets of tables and chairs in the middle of the terminal. Seeing how he was on the phone, I went to take another picture of this plane:


Another shot of the Philippines 747

Meanwhile, he wrapped up his conversation and we went to take pictures of all of the 747s on the odd numbered side.


Qantas 747-400ER


747 tails in the night – the BA and the PR were parked next to each other, and it happens to be that both gates share the same waiting room (which is still pretty good sized), so that was quite crowded.

Reed now wanted to get some closer shots downstairs, so we went down to where the BA plane was, since the QF gate, which didn’t have a flight leaving soon, didn’t have as good windows as the BA/PR gate did.


I love shots like these!


One more of this 747 – California gets many of these!

And since Reed missed getting shots of the Qantas plane, he wanted to go back upstairs to get some pictures of it, so we went. Afterwards, we decided on dinner since he was hungry. I had a 4x4 for lunch, but I could go for something else to eat. I recommended the pizza place down at the end of the terminal by our gate, which was not surprisingly, the same wood-fired pizza place that I ate at last time in UA’s terminal.


Look familiar? – Again I wanted something that wasn’t extremely salty, since pizza has high sodium.



I would have ordered pepperoni if things like soda didn’t cost $3 for a standard 16 ounce cup!

Since he was still hungry, he bought a parfait. It was just your standard sized cup that you could get at McDonalds, but it costed $5, which was a total rip off in both of our opinions. Meanwhile, I decided to be conservative, and I used a water fountain. We sat for a little bit longer, and then we saw our plane show up on-time to my dismay, as I did not want to go back to Washington, and would not have minded getting stranded here in SFO, since it’s nice. We also watched a flight from SAN arrive at gate A9, and to my surprise, a student with a CWU sweatshirt came out and was going to be on our flight! Neither of us knew her, but I was pretty sure I had seen her around on campus before. CWU is not exactly the largest campus in our state either. Small world!


Here’s our A320 taxiing in to gate A10


Our plane is cleverly named ‘Three if By Air,’ obviously a nod to the Revolutionary War and Paul Revere, where the signal would be “One if by land, two if by sea,” referring to the amount of lanterns that he would put up, depending on which method the British would be invading America. Reed didn’t understand this name and thought it was stupid, but I got the symbolism and rich history to this name! Virgin is definitely trying to show that they are American, even though Sir Richard Branson is British!


Here was one more picture of the Philippines Airlines 747-400 – the BA plane had already left.

We now went downstairs to check out the gate area a little more. This gate area was quite grand, because there were three floors. There was the third floor that we were on, the second floor for the gates, and a first floor, which was more or less half a floor, for narrow body gates at the absolute tip of this terminal.


Here’s another VX plane at the very end of the terminal at gate A12.

Reed decided to hang out down here by the gate, but I wanted another picture from the third floor of our plane.


This was taken with my phone, no joke. My phone did a better job of taking the picture than my actual camera did, since my camera wanted to focus on the dots, so the lights outside were all wrong and the details on the plane weren’t as sharp.


Terminal map – our old gate was A3, and our new gate was A10 and we ate at the Firewood Café that is indicated by the yellow-orange-ish color next to gate A10 and A12.


Here is our grand gate – a lot of money must have been put into this terminal. Right in front of the podium next to the man is the Plexiglas box of headphones on sale for $2. B6 kept them in a similar case. We had dinner more or less right above the gate, but our table was to the right out of this picture.


Escalator up to the 3rd floor to the rest of the gates

Since it was now about 8:25, the time we were supposed to board, the CSAs announced that they were delaying the flight by about 15 minutes, but they expected the plane to still be on-time back to SEA. They still needed to finish cleaning the plane and it came inbound a little late. It turns out that according to flightaware, this flight is constantly late and has had delays sometimes as long as 4 hours.


Waiting area for gate A10 – this one is cool because it was quite large, and there was a hallway that went under the escalators over to the waiting area for gate A9. In that hallway, they had pay phones and vending machines that you could use to purchase phone cards.

By now, there wasn’t much else to see in this terminal, so I decided to just sit, since Reed had had already been sitting and using his iTouch for quite a while. (I guess that I am so much more active than he is)

Virgin America #748
December 15, 2010
Airbus A320 (N623VA, Three If By Air)
8:55PM – 10:55PM
Gate: A10
Seat: 16F
[flightaware.com]

By now, they had started to board the flight, starting again with F and Main Cabin Select. We both decided to go stand out by the podium, since there was a lot of room there, and we waited for a few more minutes as they called Group E, Group D, and Group C, which we were in again. I showed my ticket to the CSA, and then she thanked me and said a number to another CSA, who I suppose was taking down how many people were on this flight.


After going through the door, the PR 747 was parked to the right, and offered a picture that I absolutely could not refuse!

After that, I quickly went the opposite direction to where the door to the jet way was.


This was quite a long jet way and there was nobody in here but me at the time, so I thought a picture was in order just for the hell of it.


This was to make up for the fact that I did not get a shot of the door of my first A320 flight with UA last year. You can definitely see the sparkles of the pearlescent paint from the door.


Up close – I edited this a little so that the sparkles and the shine are more prominent


Here are instructions on how to open the door of an A320

When I got inside, the cabin was more or less the same as the A319, but the reading lights were cool white lights instead of the lights that looked slightly like Xenons. Because of the fact that the cabin lights were all purple and blue, it was a little hard to see the young F/A greet me from a row of seats she was hanging out in. She was a young lady in her 20s, and may be one of the best looking F/As I’ve seen to date. Once I got to row 16 on the right, my seatmate was not yet there. So I quickly put down my stuff and checked everything out, only to realize that none of the seatback pockets in my row had the inflight guide, like I said earlier! I was quite disappointed because I wanted one of these, but they did not have them on the plane. I even got out of my seat, and checked other rows for them, but all other pockets only had the safety card and the throw-up bag. While I was in Reed’s row 17 looking for a guide, a middle-aged Asian guy came to my row and put away his suitcase in the overhead bin and was about to sit in the aisle seat, but I quickly told him I was in the window so he let me in. No inflight guide for me.

Also, Reed wanted to talk to me through the seat-to-seat chat system on the PTV. However, when I went to try to use the keyboard to respond to him, it did not work to my disappointment. I even tried using the middle seat’s system to try to do the chat, but it too did not work. I guess that’s what happens when you have so much cool technology on the plane.


View out the window

The F/As welcomed us on board and said our flight would be about 1 hour and 37 minutes. Again, this was quite a young and hip crew, and the lead again said that “…Here at Virgin America, we like to name our planes, and tonight you are flying on our plane named ‘Three If By Air’.” About a minute later, the door closed and the middle seat next to me thankfully remained empty. I’m estimating that this flight was probably about 75% to 80% full, like the last flight. The Asian guy also had already begun eating a cheeseburger and fries that he bought inside the terminal and the delicious aroma filled the air, even though all I ate on this trip were cheeseburgers. I had eaten 9 burger patties in the length of 48 hours! Luckily for him, he was done eating by the time we started our takeoff roll.

About 10 minutes later, we started to push out of gate A10 for runway 1R. They again showed that funny safety video, and several people giggled at some of the scenes.


Company A320 at the remote stands

We held before the double yellow line at runway 1R for about a minute, and from here I could see the trademark arrow sign of an In N Out! I tried to take a picture, but it came out way too dark and blurry to see what it was. SFO’s In N Out is not good for spotting however, since aircraft do not land on runway 1L and R because of the nearby San Bruno Mountains. After holding for about 2 minutes on the taxiway, and then 1 minute on runway 1R, we started our takeoff roll. It seemed more powerful than the A319, and it was because I looked up the fact that these engines have significantly more thrust than the A319. This takeoff pushed me back into the seat slightly, and the climb was a little steep. It was pretty much your slightly above average takeoff. After we rotated, I also saw two aircraft lined up side by side on final for a simultaneous landing for runway 28L and R. It would have been a great picture if it was light out. I can’t imagine how cool it would be to be seated on the correct side and seeing a plane right next to you land at more or less the same second that yours is. Beyond those two planes, I also saw the lights of several other landing planes in the distance.


Flying right over OAK Airport as we banked left to the north for SEA – the only other time I’ve flown out this routing, taking off of the runway 1s at night, I was listening to Ch. 9 on UA and I could hear what ATC wanted us to do. Now, it seemed a little strange because I was used to listening to where we were going on this route.


Here’s our cool cabin while climbing to 10,000 feet – each seatback is made out of smooth glossy plastic, and it is more or less a shell that houses the PTV, which can also tilt up or down. The tray table was also glossy plastic.

I decided to watch some TV, and also get on Facebook and a.net on my phone. I also did not know that each seat had a power outlet next to the bottom of each seat cushion until they announced that they had free wifi, free power ports, free soft drinks… so I got out my phone charger and charged my phone! Now I could use my phone like a standard computer, since I would not have to rely on the stupid, weak battery that iPhones have! During the flight, I watched either Late Night with Craig Ferguson on the New York affiliate of CBS, (Reed’s recommendation) Larry King’s second to last show interviewing Barbra Streisand and during the last 15 minutes of our flight up until we parked, KTLA 5’s news from LA, since I always love watching the news from my old area. In about 20 minutes, they started the in-flight service, and they said that “…Soft drinks are on the house, but we have lots of booze for sale,” to which some people cheered. What a fun airline for young people!


This is the F/A that greeted me – yes it is a dark cabin, but there will be more slightly better pictures.


These are the types of people VX hires – you’d expect him to work in the Apple Store and know everything there is to know about computers.


Barbra Streisand as Larry King’s last regular guest


I’d also frequently go back to the Airshow – right now we were over the absolute northern part of California about to reach Oregon


F/A pouring someone’s drink


Ordered a ginger ale – I guess on the plane, I like to drink apple juice, orange juice, Sprite, or ginger ale. VX also has special cups that are shaped differently on the sides. On the bottom, it read “Was that as refreshing as our airline?”

After about another 40 minutes of Facebook and watching Larry King, and arguing with some of my CWU flight buddies about A320s versus 737s, we were now approaching Portland:


To compare the A320 versus the 737-800 that I flew, the A320 was definitely a much quieter cabin and the seats were much wider. Even though VX’s Y seats are 19.7 inches versus the industry average on the 737 being 17 inches, the A320 still offers 18 inch seats on regular airlines like UA. None of the A320’s windows rattle either, like some do on the 737. Overall, the A320 just seems like a more modern aircraft than the 737, (because the 737NG is based on the original design from the -100 and -200 series, and just have different wings, avionics, engines, and structural upgrades) from the window shades, to reading light setup, to the way it handles in flight compared to the 737. Bottom line is that I now like A320s better than 737s because the A320s are more modern, and thus more comfortable and more enjoyable to fly in.

I kept on watching Barbra Streisand and Larry King, and whenever that switched to commercial I switched to Craig Ferguson and kept doing that for 20 more minutes. That ended once we got over Washington, when the 10:00 news started at KTLA, and I watched that. After about 10 minutes, we started our initial descent. I had not yet finished my drink, so I hurried and drank the last several gulps as I saw the Apple store-looking F/A walk down the aisle. As he came by, I tried to give him my cup, but he didn’t have a trash bag, rather he was just checking to see that all pax had their seatbelts on since the light was just illuminated. So he just put up his finger as sign language to say one minute. A couple minutes later, the two F/As doing the drink service came through collecting the trash, and then I put up my table and kept watching the LA news while flying over the Greater Seattle area. We were flying north over the Puget Sound between the mainland and Vashon and Bainbridge Islands for a downwind leg for SEA. We then banked right for a base turn, and then 5 seconds later, banked right one more time for a final leg into SEA about 10 miles north.


On final for runway 16C SEA about 5 miles north

About 2 minutes later, we landed on runway 16C, which was formerly 16R. Again, it seemed like we came in a little slow, so we only braked. VX is also in Concourse A on the south end of the airport, so there was also no rush to slow down the plane because we would have a longer taxi. There was heavier braking at first, and then the flight deck just let the plane coast down the runway a little, and then braked and turned off. We crossed runway 16L and taxied in between the B and S gates into our gate, A6. The lead F/A came on to welcome us to SEA, and said that he knew that everyone enjoyed their flight and that they loved the airline, and that they would be looking forward to having us on a future flight. At the S gates, I saw several different DL planes, and an AA M80 parked at one of the western most gates of that terminal.


Parked next to 3 different AA 738s and another HA 767 with winglets


Another HA 767 with winglets – I think they have about half of the fleet modified.


DL 737-800 at the S gates


AA 737-800 next to us

We got secured at gate A6 and of course, we decided to stay behind for a few minutes.


My seat


The remote – you could either keep it in the armrest and press the buttons here or you could take out the armrest and use it like your conventional TV remote. Like I said earlier, the other side of this remote was a keyboard for the chat part of the IFE.

Again, Reed wanted a picture of the flightdeck and I wanted a picture of the cabin, so off we went:

They had their refrigerator stocked with stuff in the back – these were the two F/As doing the drink cart.

As Reed was getting his pictures, I asked the FO who was standing in the galley by the 1R door about flying without a yoke. He said that he liked it better on longer flights, because you don’t have to deal with the big bulky thing in front of you for hours. Instead, in its place, was a pullout table that you could use to do paperwork, or to eat. He also said that they really only use the joystick to control the plane for 15 minutes out of each flight, whether it be during a 50 minute hop from LAX to SFO, or a 6 hour flight from SFO to JFK and the rest is autopilot, so it is not too significant of a difference. I asked him where he worked before coming here, and he flew for US Airways, so he has been flying Airbuses for a while. Reed was now done, and I thanked him and he wished me good luck on getting my ratings. So now, we walked through Concourse A to the arrivals level and baggage claim, and they had this wintery fixture:


This was really cool


And here it is on the ground.

After that, we each went our separate ways for good, as both of our dads picked us up.

To close this REALLY long report divided into 3 different threads and taking up over 80 pages on a word document, I had a really fun time, even if it was just for a day trip and an overnight in LAX. QX is a good airline, since it is pretty much just an extension of AS. The Q400 is probably one of the better regional planes to fly on, because it is quieter, it has good windows, and seats are more or less the same size as a 737 when concerning width. Legroom however, is restricted just like on CRJs or ERJs. Another cool thing about the Q400 was that it was such a fuel efficient aircraft, that it was advertised that it uses less fuel per passenger than the average car. PDX was one of the nicest airports that I’ve been to, and it was like a large scale version of ONT, since the terminal was modern and traffic was too low. It is definitely one of my favorite new airports, and I still have a section left of it to visit. Up until now, I have also never flown on a B737-800 (shocking because I’ve flown the 73G and the 739 several times) and it is a gentle plane when takeoffs are concerned, and these planes also have the nicest AS interior, since the seats are comfortable, supportive, and have nicer headrests than on the 737-400s or 737-900s. Spotting at LAX was AMAZING and was a lot more fun than anybody would expect. LAX is also an excellent place to spot, because the In N Out right there is on the threshold of the runways and you have the opportunity to get many widebodies from many diverse, International airlines that you could not get at any other city. Every aviation enthusiast should go there for spotting at least once in their lifetime. Virgin America is a really cool airline, and makes your other regular airlines like UA, CO, and AS look like old people’s airlines. VX is a hip, young, cool airline, while also having many amenities and luxuries in the cabin. I definitely encourage you to fly them if you get a chance, because you’ll never ever want to fly on another airline. I also hope that they expand their route network more throughout the country. If you have read all three parts of this massive trip report, I hoped you enjoyed it.

Re: LAX-SFO-SEA on VX (Lots of Pics)
December 27, 2010 10:10PM
I really wish I could have explored LAX. Unfortunately I was with a big group, so I was stuck at Delta's terminal (Terminal 5 I think?)
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they put Los Angeles repeatedly above the doors to remind you which one of the 4 LA area airports, BUR, LGB, LAX, or SNA, you were a
I would hope you would know that, but I guess you never know with some people.
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There Patrick, I’ve finally taken a picture of the security area, but only with the iPhone
Haha. Sometimes they don't much like that. Most times they don't notice
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Why would they put the CRJ-700 with the MD-80 instead of putting the B717 there instead?
My only guess would be because nobody flies the 717. Everybody and their mother flies CRJs
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Here’s AS’s side of Terminal 3.
Nice high ceiling and very wide open. Looks as nice as any terminal I've ever been in.
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The 777-300ER is a much more impressive aircraft in person!
I saw one land in San Francisco. It's one of the very best looking airplanes around. I'd love to see a US airline pick some up (fat chance).
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those are some really tall jetways in the back compared to this thing parked in front of me!
Wow! I don't think I've ever seen them that high before. The only place I've seen jetways like that are in STL, but those do nothing but drop down for ERJs and CRJs
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VX also had them in a Plexiglas box on wheels and had them on sale for $2.
Is there anything that makes them different from regular headphones (like Delta's old two-pronged adapter)?
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VX’s IFE would be nothing without headphones.
Yeah, my first experience with PTVs I didn't have have headphones. Luckily the flight was to Jacksonville and it was only 25 minutes, but I still watched ESPN College Game Day silently.
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I don’t care what they think, but they might be more forgiving because this is the only airline that has a fancy cabin like this.
Nah, you'll never see those people again. There's never anything to worry about.
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What does AS have? Just a beefier, wider, softer, larger version of their Y seats in F.
As do most. Do you know how much an upgrade would have been? Some rumors on Airliners.net said they were looking at Atlanta as a new destination. I would love to fly with them, and upgrade if it's reasonably priced.
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Rear of the seats – there were mesh pockets instead of your other normal sheet of upholstery pocket.
Airtran has those also. Great looking seats.
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VX does not supply their own inflight magazine or a SkyMall magazine because quite frankly, they don’t need to!
I never need those either, though I do enjoy taking a look at them, especially on a longer flight.
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since it is a little hard to describe for someone not musical like me.
Perhaps something on the lighter side? Probably a tempo under 132 BPM, and maybe a low dynamic level too. I'm only guessing. My Woodwind Methods professor last semester gave us a whole lecture on the difficulty of describing sound.
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It was a much different mood setter than AS playing the Christmas album from Kellie Pickler
Hungary? That's a country!? That girl is dumb as a post.
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PTV – has games, TV shows, satellite TV, songs, radio stations, a flight map, a section that you could use to purchase food, and inflight chat, where you can chat either in a chat room, or in a one on one chat with another seat. However, you could only use the keyboard in the remote for typing.
Looks like a very capable system! Delta has games, but it requires some payment in the area of $7. I like the idea of the food option and the chat. It would be cool to just talk to people and easy since you have the flight in common. I remember in San Diego when we did the massed band at the Holiday Bowl talking to people was easy. I met clarinet players from all over the country.

And what kind of radio? Sirius XM or was it streaming actual stations over the web?
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He was an annoying guy in his mid-20s who kept talking on his cell phone so that everyone in his immediate vicinity could hear him. It was very easy to overhear the conversation that he was having with someone over some business conflict and that they needed to have a meeting about it. It was pure awkwardness sitting next to him when he was talking about that, since it was a little serious.
I see this at work all the time. You can have great humor pretending to interact with their half of the conversation. Usually they aren't listening, and others generally find it funny.
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I listened to some Beach Boys during takeoff!
Good stuff! I find myself usually hooked on God Only Knows, All Summer Long, and Warmth of the Sun, but all of their stuff is great.
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As it turns out, the A319 was kind of like the 738, if not then only slightly stronger
My memory is starting to turn fuzzy. It's been 5 years since my only A319 flight, but I seem to remember that being the case.
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Where’s the flight yoke?
And that's the reason if I ever flew an Airbus I would have to be a captain. I'm left handed, and when I play FS, the joystick is always in my left hand.
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Not to my surprise, everything was pretty overpriced, just like the last time I went through her
As is pretty much everything in San Francisco.
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California is definitely one of the most pronounced blue states.
The only one that gives it a run is Minnesota.
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Up close – I edited this a little so that the sparkles and the shine are more prominent
Wow. You would never notice that in a distance photo. I'm sure in the sun it's a great effect.
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They again showed that funny safety video
Is it better than Delta's? Their video is in no way serious, but it's not exactly humorous.
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It seemed more powerful than the A319
It seems counter-intuitive, but I think you might be right. I very vividly remember taking off from Manchester, NH (good luck flying a mainline jet there now) and really just powering off the runway and making a hard right turn. It was almost 757-like.
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and arguing with some of my CWU flight buddies about A320s versus 737
Tally my vote for the 737
I wish I could do that with anyone I knew. Nobody knows what I'm talking about and they just call me a nerd.


Patrick
Admin
Proud Member Since 2003
Re: LAX-SFO-SEA on VX (Lots of Pics)
December 28, 2010 01:59AM
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I really wish I could have explored LAX. Unfortunately I was with a big group, so I was stuck at Delta's terminal (Terminal 5 I think?)
Most likely Terminal 5. How's Terminal 5 compared to AS's portion of Terminal 3?

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I would hope you would know that, but I guess you never know with some people.
Especially all the dumb blondes that Hollywood is known for like Britney Spears, Paris Hilton... and also some of the clientele that fly WN since that is the terminal where WN is.

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Most times they don't notice
Yeah they really didn't. It also helped that I was discretly using my phone instead of my camera.

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Looks as nice as any terminal I've ever been in.
Better than some parts of SEA too -- but the windows here were dirty both on the inside and the outside.

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Is there anything that makes them different from regular headphones (like Delta's old two-pronged adapter)?

These are them -- the ear pieces are cushioned and they are one-pronged going into the armrest like headphones from an iPod. They also have the jetBlue logo on one of the pieces. Virgin had the same ones, but they were offered in gray, purple, and pink. Sound quality isn't bad either.

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Do you know how much an upgrade would have been? Some rumors on Airliners.net said they were looking at Atlanta as a new destination. I would love to fly with them, and upgrade if it's reasonably priced.
Alaska actually flies to ATL now. They have one flight on the 737-800, which has 4 rows of F, so 16 seats. Upgrades are based on how many miles the flight is and flights over 1200 miles but less than 2500 miles is $100 one way, which would be the length of ATL-SEA. Personally I think that is a great deal since it would be a 5 hour flight, you get more legroom, better quality and more food, and obviously better service. However, the thing about AS, is that they like to treat their loyal "MVP" and "MVP Gold Members" like grandchildren and they give out First Class upgrades to them complimentary if they purchase a full economy ticket. So by the time it gets to a few hours before the flight, when regular Economy passengers can purchase the upgrade, there are few seats left. That was my experience trying to upgrade on my SEA-ONT flight last summer.

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Perhaps something on the lighter side?
Yeah, I guess it was more of a soothing, modern sounding music. Wasn't something very fast either.

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That girl is dumb as a post.
Yep, when I heard her singing on the plane I thought to myself, she sounds blonde. Celebrities these days!

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Sirius XM or was it streaming actual stations over the web?
Didn't listen to the radio stations too much, but it looked like they had XM radio.

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And that's the reason if I ever flew an Airbus I would have to be a captain.
If I get a job flying Airbuses, it would definitely take some getting used to! Luckily I'm right handed so it won't be too difficult as a FO.

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Wow. You would never notice that in a distance photo.
I was actually surprised when I saw the fuselage and door shine like that. I didn't know that VX's paint scheme was like that until that moment, despite a few of the planes I've already seen in person, and lots of a.net pictures. I'll also have to fly VX again when it's light out to see the different mood light effect, and when the weather is better to see the effect on the paint.

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Is it better than Delta's? Their video is in no way serious, but it's not exactly humorous.
Virgin's is one of the best I've seen, making DL's on youtube look quite boring. It's informative, but they still incorporated some slightly funny things. It's also entirely animated. Did you watch it through the youtube link I put up?

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I wish I could do that with anyone I knew. Nobody knows what I'm talking about and they just call me a nerd.
We always have on-going aviation jokes going on amongst us aviation guys that nobody else would ever understand. Also, just talking about how the C-152 flies compared to the PA-28 when doing things like stalls and whatnot just sounds so cool, especially if you are in the immediate vicinity of non-aviation students. Nobody understands! I am actually still the smartest when it comes to all of the airliners and the commercial industry! As far as the A320 and the 737 go, I should say that I like both equally but for different reasons, since the 737 is built not more than 10 miles away from my house. Our area is Boeing country and they responsible for thousands of jobs in this area, but the A320 is just so much more modern and more of a pleasure to fly on.

Re: LAX-SFO-SEA on VX (Lots of Pics)
December 28, 2010 05:11AM
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Most likely Terminal 5. How's Terminal 5 compared to AS's portion of Terminal 3?
Not nearly that nice. I remember the ceiling being about average height. It actually reminded me a bit of their concourse in San Francisco, just a bit bigger. It's not bad by any stretch, just not as good as Terminal 3.
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Alaska actually flies to ATL now. They have one flight on the 737-800, which has 4 rows of F, so 16 seats
Yeah. I know Delta does everything for them including check in. They've been leaving from Concourse B (gate B32 I think). I actually meant for upgrading on Virgin, but that's good information to have if I decide to go to Seattle, since Alaska will be a choice
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Didn't listen to the radio stations too much, but it looked like they had XM radio.
If their selection is anything like Airtran's they've got it all. I could listen to music from any decade I wanted, and then flying home from Milwaukee I listened to the World Series, which was some great entertainment.
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Did you watch it through the youtube link I put up?
I guess I didn't read closely enough the first time through. That's a great video. It's so non-standard that people might actually pay attention to it. And I love the nun with her linksys router. That puts Delta's to shame.


Patrick
Admin
Proud Member Since 2003
Re: LAX-SFO-SEA on VX (Lots of Pics)
December 28, 2010 06:45AM
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I actually meant for upgrading on Virgin
Oh, haha oops. From the website, First class upgrades are $270 for a flight like ATL-SFO. Also, Main Cabin Select is $110 for the long flight. I believe that you can upgrade during check-in 24 hours before or so. Both upgrades are cheaper if the flight is shorter like SFO-SEA.

If you do decide to come to SEA, I'd definitely recommend you fly AS and if you want, also fly DL or FL on the other leg. Since DL and AS are partners, you can get DL miles for both flights. When you're done, maybe even rap in an early flight to LAX for spotting at In N Out and then catch a later flight back to ATL? spinning smiley sticking its tongue out

Re: LAX-SFO-SEA on VX (Lots of Pics)
December 28, 2010 08:21AM
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If you do decide to come to SEA, I'd definitely recommend you fly AS and if you want, also fly DL or FL on the other leg.
Actually, when I looked at flights to Seattle, the way out that was cheapest was to fly Delta to STL, and fly Alaska to SEA from there. Unfortunately the only decently priced way to come back is on a red-eye.

I did see ways to get to LAS and SFO with layovers in Los Angeles, though


Patrick
Admin
Proud Member Since 2003
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