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Virgin America Inaugural SFO to FLL Nov 18, 2009

Virgin America Inaugural SFO to FLL Nov 18, 2009

Old Nov 18, 09, 7:38 pm
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Virgin America Inaugural SFO to FLL Nov 18, 2009

Virgin America Inaugural SFO to FLL Nov 18, 2009

Just an amazing experience and Virgin America has thrown an extravagant party here at Fort Lauderdale! This inaugural flight will always have a special place in my heart because an airline is rarely willing to spend much money and not to mention the efforts in planning such a huge welcoming party. It truly combines its hip and youth image with this traditionally conservative industry. Not sure if words are sufficient to explain the whole experience. Enjoy the link to the photo album and feel free to ask questions!

November 18, 2009
VX 340 SFO-FLL Lv0700 Arr1530 Airbus A319-100 N521VA “let there be flight”

This trip is definitely not cheap by any means! The introductory fare does not apply to this flight and I paid $300+ to fly into this flight and later more money to upgrade to Main Cabin Select the evening before. I will have comments about the fares towards the end of this email.

I arrived SFO about 5:30am and there was a dedicated Fort Lauderdale check in desk next to the first class line. I saw a sheet detailing seating assignments of various guests. First Class was closed off completely and my last minute attempt to upgrade to first class failed, but at least I got MCS. Security was quiet and there were only a few flights departing from Terminal A at these early hours including an Aeromexico Boeing 737-700 winglet, XA-GOL, heading to Mexico City, and a few more Virgin flights to JFK and Las Vegas.

Typically, Virgin America and other inaugural flights use A12 to celebrate special occasions, and the theme was “Stay Golden,” as seen by this giant balloon display at the gate. There is a continental breakfast buffet including sliced fruits and breakfast pastries, hot beverages, juices and bottled waters. There is a three men band playing tropical/Floridian music and after the usual speeches by various representatives from SFO and City Hall, and David Cush. There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony by David Cush, the cockpit crew and inflight team were there to cut the ribbons. Boarding began at 6:45am and the loading was around 70-80% full and mostly Virgin American staffs, as expected. Each seat had a gift bag sponsored by W Fort Lauderdale, Bare Essentials, Patron’s Tequilla, Veev acai liqueur, FLL tourism board and Virgin America. I took photos of the gift bags and you can see the contents by the end of my photo album. Boarding was completed in fifteen minutes and we closed our door on time at 7am and pushed back a minute later. Not a busy morning here at SFO! We took off from R/W1L at 7:10am. Flying time was four hours and fifty-three minutes with an initial cruising attitude of 31,000feet, and then slowly climbed to 37,000feet and 39,000feet. The routing took us over San Jose, Bakersfield, and then slowly turns SE as we passed Palmdale, CA, and further towards Arizona, Texas, and Louisiana coast. We entered Gulf Of Mexico briefly before entering the Floridian west coast, city of Naples, and a straight in approach into Fort Lauderdale. Strong tail wind all the way to FLL!

In-flight service was special with complimentary food and drinks to everyone. The other surprise was free makeup sessions, courtesy of Bare Essentials. There was a make-up artist on board and giving everyone a possible “Golden Glow” in preparation for our arrival. That is very creative and the service proved to be quite popular. Breakfast was a choice of the Bagel with yogurt and fruit, Chicken Pesto Hand roll or the Vietnamese Banh mi flat iron beef steak sandwich. The special cocktails include a Virgin Mary (Bloody Mary), a Patron mixed drink, a Veev la Vida cocktail and various beers. Tequilla shots were quite popular mid-flight and they ran out of it by the time we reached the city of Houston/Texan coast. The spirit was high and flight attendant, Mark, led a stress-relieving parade through the aircraft and the F/As were excited about the new flight. Marc, Mark and Brianna (Sorry I forgot the other F/A name) – all four of them were excellent and refills occurred throughout the flight. Marc dropped by the Main Cabin Select a few times to make sure we all got our drinks. The other surprise was towards the end of the flight, when Brianna gave out the Golden ticket – a pair of free tickets to anywhere VX flies. I was honored to win the Golden ticket and hopefully can use it for my next Virgin America inaugural flight. Thanks for choosing me! The flight went by very quickly and I was glad to report that the Direct TV was working fine and the inflight gogo internet was functioning relatively well. It was a bit slow towards mid-flight due to the increased usage, but I was more than satisfied with the speed.

Descent soon began at 2:34pm EST and we landed at R/W9L at 3:03pm. Of course it was no coincident that the Virgin flight from LAX landed after our flight. N528VA “Fog Cutter” followed us to the special hangar area. It took a while to taxi because we were not heading to the expected Terminal One Concourse C, but towards an open area outside of Terminal Four Concourse H. There were a water salute and sorry for no pictures because I did not get the window seat this time. Then I saw a giant tent literally filled with people welcoming us to FLL. This party was nothing I have seen before. Red carpets rolled out and both flights deplaned at the same time. Waiters and waitresses wearing Virgin America t-shirts were welcoming us with canapés and cocktails. There was a full bar setup, as well as a DJ booth and various golden themed armchairs and sofas. The media was buzzing and was definitely excited to see Sir Richard Branson. More speeches were made as expected and all passengers were welcome to the party. They even had a luggage check area for all our bags. I could not resist on having a few more cocktails. I did not recall any other occasions that I started to drink at 7 in the morning, not to mention four cocktails by 4pm. I spent about an hour in the tent, and as the crowd began to thin out, I headed back to the terminal. I took a few more pictures and was glad to report that Virgin will indeed be using Terminal Two Concourse C. C6 and C9 are the specific gates used today and C9 is possibly a VX exclusive gate. The check-in counters were set up according to the usual VX standard – self-check-in kiosks, First Class and Main cabin select line, and web bag drop off line. Today’s inaugural flights use Claim 3, but not sure if that is the future baggage claim carousel used.

Just an amazing experience and thanks Virgin America for a wonderful flight! I am pretty sure my next inaugural flight will not be as fun as Virgin America. For future inaugural attendants, I recommend flying the first outbound flight because the return passengers from FLL to LAX/SFO flights are not able to join the same fun party that we received in our arrivals.

Carfield is offline  
Old Nov 18, 09, 10:20 pm
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Nice report and pictures Carfield! Thanks for the good read
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Old Nov 18, 09, 10:52 pm
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Great report as always!

could not resist on having a few more cocktails. I did not recall any other occasions that I started to drink at 7 in the morning, not to mention four cocktails by 4pm.
That's because you didn't go to Arizona State
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Old Nov 18, 09, 11:20 pm
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Excellent trip reports!!! I'm glad that you are enjoyable for flying on VX inaugurate ceremony in FLL & SFO, too. I am so emotional that I am not been there at new terminal 1 for a long time. I know one of former NW old ticket counter right next to CO counter, too. Its has been moved to DL terminal 1 and this is where NW is already merge with DL. I didn't realize know where I can see VX is already in newest terminal 1 and it is in the concourse C. I remember where I was there in FLL by many years ago.

I remember where brand new terminal 1 is opening back on May 2001. This is housing where brand new terminal 1 are in CO, NW, HP, B6, F9 and WN before in the couple years later where another arilines has been moved to terminal 3 to become merge with US Airways/America West. I remember where WS has been moved out of terminal 1 due to overcrowded at security checkpoint. This is not specific time for Westjet want to be moved at terminal 3.

Let me introduce you something where I lived in FLL for 24 years since I came to Florida in years of 1979. Since I am no longer lived in South Florida. We are already moving to Arizona back in late-2003. Today, this is ours sixth years anniversary where we lived in Arizona on Nov. 15, 2003. I am enjoyable where we live in Arizona for a long time. We are really like it there to be with my entire family. So I won't see you in FLL for quite of long time. I was unable to see inside terminal 1 for a long time. I didn't have enough time where I flown into FLL from last month during more MRs on Delta. I knows Florida has too much hurricanes and terrible bad severe weather all of the times. We dislike it there at all. It was too much rains all of the times. I will missed my old friends in South Florida.

Last edited by N830MH; Nov 18, 09 at 11:26 pm
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Old Nov 18, 09, 11:23 pm
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Oh Carfield you've done it again! great report what's next?
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Old Nov 18, 09, 11:38 pm
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Brilliant report. I drove by the events area after dropping my sister off for a Delta flight at Terminal 2 and my nephew and I wondered what all the commotion was about . Later, we watched both VX flights arrive one after the other.

Was a beautiful afternoon/evening at FLL with several photogs there to capture the moment.

Thanks for taking the time to post this TR.

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Old Nov 18, 09, 11:55 pm
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Originally Posted by JHIN View Post
Oh Carfield you've done it again! great report what's next?
He'll will tell you for which the routes to be next inaugurate ceremony. I can't believe it that I see VX is already in FLL today. I'm sure if my friends will sent emails me in the morning. I will post it more pictures from VX inaugurate ceremony. You will see it more pictures of water salute. He will had to take his photos opportunity for me and he will send me something in the mails.
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