I left a bit later than I would have liked. My travel companion did not have TSAPre and being the "busiest travel day of the year", I knew there would be lines for absolutely everything. I actually regret not snapping a picture of the lines for ticketing and security. Both lines were nearly out the door. Having Virgin Priority combined with TSAPre allowed myself to travel how I normally would. Virgin Priority allowed for a quick check-in time of around 3 minutes and TSAPre allowed for a queue time of roughly 5 minutes. Overall, though it was the so called busiest travel day of the year, other than the massive lines at the non-priority checkpoints I wouldn't have know it otherwise.
I'm pretty familiar with Chicago's Terminal 3 so post-security was completely uneventful. I grabbed a bottled water and made my way to the gate. As I approached L3, First Class was starting to board. I was the first on-board so I manged to get some decent shots of the difficult and dark Virgin America cabin. Boarding process was smooth and all of the flight attendants as well as the gate agents were in great spirits. Flight attendants exchanged gifts with the gate agents and wished each other a Happy Thanksgiving. It was one of the most professional and uplifting displays I've seen at an airline especially for a 7am departure the day before a major holiday.
I. Service II. Meal Service III. The Seat
The whole cabin crew was unbelievably chipper. All three crew members had a smile on their face and were really social with not just the first class passengers but also main cabin passengers. As I mentioned earlier, the cabin crew and ground crew were wishing each other a happy holiday and even exchanging gifts. The crew's behavior really creates the atmosphere. The purser, Jared, came around to each first class passenger and gave them a quick briefing of what to expect on board the flight today. He let us know who the meal service would work, brought us pre-departure beverages, and welcomed us on-board.
It was one of those flights that my glass was never empty (neither was my stomach) and the crew seemed to be doing everything in their power to make the flight enjoyable. The safety briefing was done manually in the forward cabin and it was done with enthusiasm and even a little dancing,
II. Meal Service; Breakfast: brie omelet w. leeks, wine soaked assorted fruit, and a warm croissant
Virgin America consecutively wins awards for their on-board catering. It's healthy, it's fresh, and it taste great. That can be hard to find today, even up front. This flight was no exception. There were two options for breakfast; steel cut oatmeal or a brie cheese and leek omelet. Of course throughout the whole flight, snacks, many of them relatively hearty, were free and unlimited. I however, did not take advantage of the free snacks and stuck with my meal.
The omelet was sensational. I didn't actually expect the cheese to taste brie-ish. I expected to bite into a bland and buffet like omelet. I was wrong. The omelet was hot, fresh, and full of flavor. The croissant (my favorite breakfast side) was actually served hot. It was hot, flaky, buttery, and sweet. The fruit was a unique combo, fresh, and flavorful. No complaints on the main course or the snack basket. Virgin is by far my favorite domestic airline for catering.
III. The Seat
Every Airbus in the Virgin America fleet features an eight seater first class cabin. The seats are what Google Flights refers to as "Extra-Recline Seats" which is a pretty accurate description of Virgin's first class product. The sleek white leather seats recline nearly 150 degrees and are some of the softest domestic recliners I've had the pleasure of flying in. All seats are equipped with a messaging function that, through the lumbar support, moves up and down in a massaging motion. Occasionally the function will work. Lucky for me, the massaging functioned worked flawlessly the entire flight.
As for the bells and whistles aside from the actual seat; the tray table is massive, there is a cocktail tray in the middle consoles. there is an A/C power unit and USB port, and there are remotes in the armrest. It's by far the most advanced seat in North America with enough bells and whistles to keep you occupied the whole flight without even messing around with the IFE system.
Though Virgin America loves to tote its RED IFE system, it was pretty primitive compared to American's new IFE system and Delta's existing IFE system. Video content (other than live TV) was very scarce. As for the audio programs, there was a vast variety of songs, many of which I'm a big fan of. I'll mention that in first class you are not able to order snacks from the IFE screen, a feature I love using on Virgin America. There is a new version of RED that can be found on newer aircraft that is a little bit more complex and features Netflix as well as Spotify.
I always wish for longer flights. I did manage to book one of Virgin's longer yet more affordable flights (~4hrs) but that still didn't satisfy my flight needs. The crew was outstanding, the experience is truly premium, and food was great. Though it had to come to an end. We arrived right on time into LAX. From there I went straight to the Virgin America Loft located on the second floor in terminal 3. Because my flight is considered "long-haul" by Virgin America, I had complimentary access.
The loft was pretty empty and the lounge attendants were professional, helpful, and polite. It's pretty basic however, it should be noted that much of the alcoholic selections are complimentary. I couldn't take advantage of that but I did get some rest and enjoy a snack. I don't recommend shelling out $30 for access but if you're on a route that can get you in for free give the lounge a visit, if not for the amenities go for the beautiful views.
Once I completed my visit, I made my way over to terminal 4 and boarded my flight back home. If you find yourself flying on one of Virgin America's few routes, book a ticket. The experience can cost a few bucks more but I find a premium experience is better than a dreadful four hour flight.
Trip Reports pulled straight off the aircraft. Follow my flights, experiences, and other journeys right here.
Visit Travel Update
For more exciting and unique content from bloggers across the globe!