San Francisco International Airport is California's second largest airport after Los Angeles.
The airport's terminals are connected by AirTrain, similarly to New York's JFK Airport.
Virgin America flights depart from Terminal 2.
I found the interior design of the airport quite pleasant and original.
Virgin America's check-in stands:
A remarkable lighting setup, made to look like soaring birds or planes (I wasn't exactly sure which):
My California flight number VX924 to LA took place November 10, 2012. The scheduled departure time was 10:50 AM.
Flights listed on the time table were somewhat unusually sorted by flight destination rather than departure time.
In front of the check in stands there was a very diligent Virgin America employee directed passengers towards their gates and answered questions.
And there were questions to be asked! Virgin America's system for dealing with baggage is rather confusing. Firstly, Virgin America's cheapest tickets don't include any baggage allowance. You can pay for one baggage item of up to 50 pounds either during online check-in, or at the airport. Depending on which option you choose, you have to join a different line, and this quickly gets a little mixed up. The fee for the baggage, by the way, was 25 USD.
There was a separate queue for those who'd paid for their baggage online:
In front of the check-in stands there were special machines with a credit card slot, called "kiosks", which you could use to pay your baggage fee, as well as print boarding passes:
If you paid for your baggage at one of these kiosks, there was a separate line for you as well:
Of course, first class passengers, and those with a gold or silver airline card, also had a separate lane:
Everyone who didn't belong in one of the 3 mentioned categories went in yet a fourth queue.
In the airport's waiting area …
your options include everything from calls using rather unique-looking payphones...
to some relaxing Yoga:
I embarked on my search for gate 54A:
The airport featured an exhibit dedicated to 100 years of board games, beginning from the 19th century:
Our plane is an Airbus A320:
Boarding was conducted using seating groups, which made finding your seat much easier. The groups started from the tail end:
On the way to the plane:
The plane was divided into two classes.
The plane looked fairly new and modern, with a "De Wallen"-style lighting system.
The back of every seat is equipped with a screen:
Featuring the RED information/entertainment system:
The remote control for the entertainment system is located in the elbow rest:
Pre-flight safety demonstration:
The seat pocket contained the usual kit:
Instructions on using the entertainment system:
As I mentioned in another review, touch screen systems can be disturbing to the passenger sitting in front of you. Virgin America takes this into account and includes a warning, recommending that you touch the screen lightly so as to avoid hearing "@*#!" from the person in front of you.
A network port and a power outlet were indeed located between the seats. However, I never did find the advertised USB port. If this is important for you, watch out!
A view of our neighbor at the next gate:
We idled on the runway for a while to allow some of the smaller planes to take off:
A view of our patriotic winglet as we turn into position for takeoff:
Takeoff was quite smooth:
Meals aren't included in the price of the ticket, but are available. The menu can be accessed through the entertainment system.
Some of the drinks were free:
The majority were not:
Neither were the snacks:
The RED system allows you to both order and pay for your food using your credit card:
You can also go shopping for some pretty unique items... like an iPhone 3 with a real diamond case for 40 thousand dollars:
On-demand movies on demand were also pay-per-view:
Music and games were free, though:
As was the flight map:
The plane also featured Wi-Fi, with access to the Internet:
You could have 30 minutes of Internet for the low, low price of 2 USD:
Through the RED system you can donate to San Francisco's Animal Care & Control. As an example they describe how Virgin transported 15 homeless Chihuahua pups from San Francisco to a new home in New York. I guess Chihuahuas are small enough where the sum of $5 covers their transportation expenses in full
The flight lasted a little over an hour, but that's enough time for the flight attendants to pass out drinks:
Soon we began to descend. There was nothing particularly remarkable about the landing.
Arrival schedule and baggage claim:
The way to the baggage claim:
On the way out of the terminal:
All in all, I enjoyed the flight. The service, the condition of the cabin, the entertainment system - all were of pretty high quality. Even baggage security in San Francisco is done very professionally (although, of course, credit here goes to the airport, not Virgin America). When I got back to Moscow, while unpacking my baggage, I discovered a "notice of inspection", slipped carefully in among my stuff. And I immediately and fondly remembered Virgin's red livery.
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