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Yikes!! House hunting in Manhattan... via Virgin America and American First Class

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Old May 8, 17, 12:25 pm
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How do you know they load the cabin with employees? Genuine question, as it's pretty stupid, especially considering how stingy they are with award seats
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Old May 8, 17, 12:42 pm
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Originally Posted by grandgourmand View Post
How do you know they load the cabin with employees? Genuine question, as it's pretty stupid, especially considering how stingy they are with award seats
This is an overly simplified version of how it works and may not be totally accurate, but in effect employees can travel standby if empty seats are available. In this case, AA appears to be doing a mediocre at best job of selling first class. Since they aren't releasing any awards, this would routinely leave a number of first class seats available. JFK-LAX is a popular route for travel for anyone based in either location who flies frequently, such as airline employees based in one or the other. So, employees will clear the standby list into first class as first class has empty seats. You can easily see when this happens if you monitor flight loads shortly in advance of your flight, or even simply the people at the GA desk getting boarding passes with a big smile right before departure.

Happens on a number of AA routes, I had a cabin load of 3 of 8 on JFK-GRU (this back when the 77W was still quite new) in terms of paying passengers (well, I was travelling on an award ). The rest of the cabin promptly filled up with AA employees travelling standby; a few seats in business class were also taken similarly.
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Old May 8, 17, 9:29 pm
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Good luck with the potential move.
I lived in Ladera Ranch for a couple of years. We would make the short trek to Dana Point and get lava cake at the Chart House once a month or so. Great views.
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Old May 9, 17, 6:12 pm
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Originally Posted by gaobest View Post
If you're not thrilled about summer weather, then will you just spend future Summers away? Also where did you live in San Francisco for 10 years?? I've lived in cow hollow, sunset, and bernal.
Agreed on this - plus for travel, you'd have longer fun flights to Europe and the Asia / Australia / Hawaii flights are still long enough.
We can't even decide where we want to live period, let alone where to go in the summer. At least we will have a summer unlike living in San Francisco. We were in The Marina and 10 years is long time to live without a summer.

Originally Posted by AtlFlyer123 View Post
I'm never flying American I just want to say thank you for encouraging me to never fly American. That beef doesn't even look like beef if I were you I would have taken a sample of beef and sent it to a lab for analysis
Thank you AtlFlyer123. I'd stick with Delta if you are in ATL.

Originally Posted by Flavio1990 View Post
"The Australian Merlot was wretched"
So it would be when you can buy it for less than $15. Always amazed at the low quality of wines that are sometimes offered in business and first class
I'm surprised that it cost that much. Thanks Flavio1990.

Originally Posted by Eastbay1K View Post
That steak is prepared in a style now known as "Presidential-style." The only thing that was missing (perhaps available on request) was ketchup. I suppose they think it is a step up from last year's meat loaf. First class meat loaf ... four words you never thought you'd see together.
LOL, indeed. That meat loaf was actually pretty good in a pathetic I'm hungry and have no other option for 5 hours sense. Darn, why didn't I think of that. Ketchup would have definitely improved that "beef" or whatever it really was. Thank you Eastbay1K.

Originally Posted by 764toHI View Post
Great report - I enjoyed your perspective of someone not from NYC looking to live here as a livelong NYer. Just curious, did you consider Gramercy Park or the West Village as well? I personally prefer the dining options and convenience of being downtown. Also maybe think about Brooklyn Heights - very close to Manhattan with some nice cozy dining options in the neighborhood and nicer ones just a bit south in Cobble Hill.
Thanks so much 764toHI. Someone else mentioned Brooklyn Heights. Certainly great views of the city. We're going back this weekend to explore some more.

Originally Posted by Genius1 View Post
It'll be sad to see the VX product disappear; a nicely executed concept that was head and shoulders above all the legacy North American carriers.
Some nice pictures from around NY. I was there last month when it was still rather cold and wet, with the trees barely out which I think makes all the difference, particularly for photos.
I agree with you on the AA IFCL at JFK - nothing amazing at all and not very different from the previous FL. The wall where the buffet is (and indeed the buffet itself) is temporary and will open out to more lounge space and the Flagship Dining area once refurbishment is complete. I believe the AC is also not yet its full size.
It looks like you got an old international J amenity kit on your way back to LAX - presumably using up stock. It's a shame AA's catering is so dismal when the hard product in J and F on transcon and international sectors is much improved and indeed better than some other carriers.
Thanks for an interesting read, and good luck with house hunting!
Thank you very much Genius1. Indeed, it will be sad what VX finally disappears from the domestic scene. It was great while it lasted. But we're back with them one more time this weekend to JFK. I'm looking forward to seeing that finished JFK FL product although the AA sceptic in me thinks that it will much ado about nothing and another smoke and mirrors AA fail.

Originally Posted by theshaun View Post
Being the proud Vancouverite that I am, have you considered Vancouver? Don't forget the best domestic first flight in North America. Cathay YVR>JFK
Thank you theshaun. Great idea about that CX flight. Unfortunately Vancouver like Seattle won't make the cut as we don't want to live anywhere with 6-9 months of rain a year.

Originally Posted by BUT777 View Post
Thanks for another great report. Having my 1st trancon first experience with AA just 2 weeks ago. I finally understand your pain with the food on AA. Everything except the sundae was borderline edible. Although food on CX has gone downhill, I would never complain on their food again after my experience with AA.
Thanks BUT777. Sorry to hear about your similar culinary experience. Have to agree on CX. Everything is relative.

Originally Posted by BA5E View Post
glad to see SFO777 next report have subscribed and will be reading it at my leisure, probably at work
Thank you BA5E.

Originally Posted by grandgourmand View Post
How do you know they load the cabin with employees? Genuine question, as it's pretty stupid, especially considering how stingy they are with award seats
TheBOSman has nailed it. The GA paging 6 people to podium and see them walking away giddy with excitement.

Originally Posted by TheBOSman View Post
This is an overly simplified version of how it works and may not be totally accurate, but in effect employees can travel standby if empty seats are available. In this case, AA appears to be doing a mediocre at best job of selling first class. Since they aren't releasing any awards, this would routinely leave a number of first class seats available. JFK-LAX is a popular route for travel for anyone based in either location who flies frequently, such as airline employees based in one or the other. So, employees will clear the standby list into first class as first class has empty seats. You can easily see when this happens if you monitor flight loads shortly in advance of your flight, or even simply the people at the GA desk getting boarding passes with a big smile right before departure.
Happens on a number of AA routes, I had a cabin load of 3 of 8 on JFK-GRU (this back when the 77W was still quite new) in terms of paying passengers (well, I was travelling on an award ). The rest of the cabin promptly filled up with AA employees travelling standby; a few seats in business class were also taken similarly.
Originally Posted by apodo77 View Post
Good luck with the potential move.
I lived in Ladera Ranch for a couple of years. We would make the short trek to Dana Point and get lava cake at the Chart House once a month or so. Great views.
Thank you apodo77. Indeed, great views front he Chart House.
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Old May 15, 17, 8:25 am
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Interesting report as always. Let us know if Senior Management comes to a decision.

Originally Posted by theshaun View Post
Being the proud Vancouverite that I am, have you considered Vancouver? Don't forget the best domestic first flight in North America. Cathay YVR>JFK
YVR-JFK is domestic now? Did I miss some news?
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Old May 15, 17, 1:30 pm
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Originally Posted by Calchas View Post
YVR-JFK is domestic now? Did I miss some news?
Well, it's treated as a domestic flight on arrival thanks to pre-clearance.
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Old May 17, 17, 9:27 am
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I love Cafe Boulud off Madison Avenue. It's the type of restaurant I return to. OK you don't like Toronto. What about Vancouver? I really liked it. More than New York.

Sutton Place is nice but far from the center of town. Madison I like. Also Central Park West / Lincoln Center.

The young today prefer Soho / Tribeca.

Last edited by Bretteee; May 20, 17 at 3:08 pm
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Old May 19, 17, 6:03 am
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Great images!

Travel safe and good luck with your move!
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Old May 20, 17, 8:21 pm
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Back to New York for Round 2


Three weeks later, Mrs. SFO777 and I are on our way back to New York to spend more time before we decide whether we're really going to do this.
As Mrs. SFO777 said, we're either going to love it or hate it. And one more time on Virgin America with by fare the cheapest price this weekend, at 25,000 miles.

This is the big LAX airline shuffle weekend as Delta moves to T-2 and T-3 and T-3 airlines make the move to T-5 or T-6. That is great news for us as Virgin has finally vacated the third world outpost that is T3. Parking was easy on the 1st level of the T6 garage.





Quiet afternoon at T-6 as there was no one in line for security, let alone PreCheck.



Bad weather in the northeast and in particular in New York was causing lots of delays and our 3:35pm was already pushed back to 5:05pm. So we had plenty of time to explore.





















Our gate. Indeed, a 90 minute delay.





But right next door is the Alaska Lounge, where our Virgin First Class ticket get us access.









Nothing fancy with what appears to be way too many seats for such a small space.



Nice small bar with TVs.





Great plane spotting from our window seats.







Yikes.





At around T-45, we headed downstairs and arrived just the Gate Agent invited First Class to board.

Los Angeles LAX to New York JFK
Virgin VX 416
A320
3:35p-11:55p (sked)
5:05p-1:00a (actual)
May 13, 2017
Seats 2DF




Yep, looks just like three weeks ago. But Mrs. SFO777 really loves this cabin commenting "this is comfy" and later "this is amazing" and "I could sleep this way".









The very lame Virgin America amenity kit...





... which consists of a cheap eyeshade and even cheaper pen. And nothing more.





We pushed back at 5:00pm and made the long trek around to the north side of the aiport.



Ooooh, how I wish we were on that plane today.



Wheels up at 5:15pm.









Today's menu, the same as 3 weeks ago.





After take-off our First Class FA Lindsay closed the galley curtain and prepped a somewhat-challenged service process. I had overheard her telling another FA something about "my first time". Didn't think much about it until she started the comical meal service. Now I understand.



Drinks came out out fine although nuts took another 10 minutes, and forget about round 2.



Mrs. SFO777 went with chicken salad for dinner. She was apparently the only taker on this one tonight, and since this was cold requiring little prep, her meal was came out promptly at 6:01pm.





Ten minutes later, she was still the only one who had been served dinner.





Lindsay then started with row 1 which took a full 20 minutes. Indeed, 1C was done with dinner and dessert before she even started to serve row 2, or the rest of row 2 besides Mrs. SFO777 who has long since finished her dinner.



Still waiting for my refill... and waiting.



And finally at 6:35p, my dinner, the beef fillet with horseradish creme fraiche.



The crudité with hummus was delicious.



The beef was good but not great like 3 weeks ago. Seems like this was an Alaska quality cut vs. the more generous Virgin quality. Yeah, there goes the neighborhood.



The lemon tart desert was excellent.


Last edited by SFO777; Jun 9, 17 at 12:46 pm
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Old May 20, 17, 9:43 pm
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Originally Posted by Calchas View Post
Interesting report as always. Let us know if Senior Management comes to a decision. YVR-JFK is domestic now? Did I miss some news?
Thanks very much Calchas. IMO, Transborder US/Canada flights are essentially domestic, especially with US pre clearance.

Originally Posted by UA1K_no_more View Post
Well, it's treated as a domestic flight on arrival thanks to pre-clearance.
Yep.

Originally Posted by Bretteee View Post
I love Cafe Boulud off Madison Avenue. It's the type of restaurant I return to. OK you don't like Toronto. What about Vancouver? I really liked it. More than New York.
Sutton Place is nice but far from the center of town. Madison I like. Also Central Park West / Lincoln Center.
The young today prefer Soho / Tribeca.
What are the nicer neighborhoods in Denver to live in (Condo wise)? I am thinking of a condo in Denver as we have family there.
Thanks very much Bretteee. Have to agree with you on Café Boulud. We've been there at least three times all for lunch when it is very reasonable.
In Denver, the best options are downtown (Four Seasons Residences) or Cherry Creek.

Originally Posted by miamiflyer8 View Post
Great images!
Travel safe and good luck with your move!
Thank you miamiflyer8.
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Old May 22, 17, 1:55 am
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Yikes talk about inconsistent service!
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Old May 28, 17, 2:47 pm
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Very interesting about Denver neighborhoods for Condos you suggested.

My nephew also suggested Cherry Creek. And yes I noticed the Four Seasons Residences. They look great. Most of the units though look as if they are 2,000 sq feet and larger. I wonder though if they have good resale value.

Thanks for your input.
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Old May 29, 17, 11:39 pm
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So has there been a house decision yet?
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Old Jun 9, 17, 12:45 pm
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Sorry for the long delay in continuing this report. Work sometimes gets in the way...


The Mark Hotel, Upper East Side

After a "you get what you pay for" few moments with Dial7 and their close-to-useless app and worst-of-New York dispatch attitude, we arrived at Madison and East 77th Street and The Mark just after 2am. We received a Virtuoso upgrade at booking to a very attractive Deluxe 77th Street King room.













What a lovely surprise waiting for us in our room... SFO777Jr's thoughful Mother's Day gift of Billecart-Salmon and chocolate dipped strawberries.





Whoa, now that's some decor.



And one of the scariest mini bars I've seen in a long time.









Since we finally went to sleep at around 3am, we didn't exactly wake up bright and early on Sunday morning. Breakfast just before noon.





The Mark on a sunny Mothers Day.







And lobby pics, with the same black and white stripe decor.











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Old Jun 9, 17, 12:45 pm
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Sunday in the City


When we visited a few weeks ago, we had pretty much narrowed our search to the Upper East Side... and one apartment in particular, on East 77th. So we decided to stay at nearby The Mark, spend time in the neighborhood and see how we felt three days later. While Mrs. SFO777 was getting ready for the day, I headed out for some fresh air. Up Madison...





... then west on 78th...









To Park Avenue and Central Park.















Then back on East 77th to the hotel.



A little later, with Mrs. SFO777, north on Madison and back over to Central Park.



























It was a perfect 65 degree spring day and we decided to just sit, relax and enjoy the park and the great people watching.













Oh come on sweetie, it's only a little bird.





Awww.





And back to The Mark where we met our Pedicab driver Bobby for the scenic ride to Times Square and West 45th theater district.



























































To the Hirschfeld Theatre.



And the Sunday matinée of the wonderful Kinky Boots.







What a fabulous show. No pics during the performance but I snuck one during the finale.



After relaxing back at the hotel and enjoyed SFO777Jr's gift of champagne and strawberries, we headed down to 23rd Street in the Flatiron district and The Clocktower Restaurant which is located in the New York EDITION hotel.





The hotel bar in the lobby...



... and upstairs to the retro decor restaurant, from restauranteur Stephen Starr and Michelin-star British chef Jason Atherton.





















OK, gotta love the tableware.









A great meal and a quick 20 minutes later. our Uber driver dropped us off at our hotel some 54 blocks up Madison.


For more pics and an HD version of this report please visit SFO777.com

Additional posts are available at SFO777.com including
Monday on the Upper East Side
Tuesday on the Upper East Side
jetBlue Mint to LAX

Will post to FT as soon as possible.
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