Virgin America: Or the Best In-Flight Experience [Ever]

I’m a pretty finicky traveler. I travel with purpose, and have little patience for mishaps in between. Based on that, it may surprise you to hear I’ve flown Spirit Airlines more times than I can count, with only bad experiences to share, and continue to hand my money over to them in some self-deprecating digression.

Virgin America

Image via Wikipedia

For my business trip to California — with a short stop in Seattle to visit the sister and brother-in-law — I decided to change things up a bit. Thanks to Routehappy, I had the ability to research the trip beforehand to be fully versed in the airlines that provided service to the west coast route I would travel. I narrowed down my interest to Frontier and Virgin America. I’m so glad I switched things up.

Frontier was by no means awful, but a fresh chocolate chip cookie at the end of my flight isn’t going to erase some of the less-than-stellar experiences I had in each airport, and during the longer leg of my flight.

Virgin America, however, was incredible. The first part of my trip originated in Seattle. The boarding process was quick and painless, and the in-flight experience started immediately. Free in-seat satellite, with plenty of options for premium, paid add-ons. From the comfort of your individual seat, you can order snacks/drinks, watch TV, interact across the cabin with high-tech chat features, shop, and soon, you’ll even be able to read and surf the web on the seat screen. Even better? Power outlets conveniently located between seats.

Normally when an airline offers these perks, I worry that they may be lacking in strong customer service. Not the case with VA. In fact, they have the nicest flight crew I’ve ever encountered. The flight attendant servicing the back of the plane offered me a free drink or snack because passersby and the concession cart kept knocking me in my aisle seat. Too kind.

And, so, while only passive aggressively mentioning the $14.95 charge for WiFi, I can confidently say, I value myself more as a passenger, and will certainly fly Virgin America in the future.


The Sixth Borough

Since seeing Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close a few weeks back, I’ve heard this “sixth borough” saying from many a non-New Yorker. And while I feel that, for most the part, LA is the antithesis of New York, there were elements of my less-than-24-hour trip that made me feel comfortable, and almost connected to the city. Everyone I encountered had some New York experience worth sharing, and in the same way that I feel I dispel the myth that everyone in New York is uptight and overly aggressive, my LA contacts did the same for my unwarranted stereotypes of the City of Angels.  And, to my only-slight surprise, the waitress at Cafe Gratitude — excellent vegan and raw restaurant in Beverly Hills — used the sixth borough expression to describe her feelings toward LA.

Though incredibly short, my trip was lovely overall, and was preceded with a jaunt to Seattle. In less than 72 hours and my first-ever trip further west than Chicago, IL, I’ve tried Vietnamese food (highly recommend the Lemon Grass Tofu Rice dish at Tamarind Tree in Seattle), walked through Pikes Place Market, met my adorable baby cousin Ben, had my first-ever vegan taco and raw dessert at Cafe Gratitude (see link above), and had the best-ever inflight experience with Virgin America.

While my layover in Denver during the blizzard wasn’t ideal, and I encountered a minor snafu on my way west via Frontier, I’m overall thrilled with my first West Coast trip, especially my stint in the supposed sixth borough.

Spread the Happiness

A couple of months ago, I was invited to be an alpha tester for a really cool social review site that revolves around air travel. It’s called Routehappy, and while it’s still in an invite-only alpha phase, it’s well on its way to making a difference to an industry in need.

I have been reviewing businesses on Yelp for years, but after traveling back and forth between New York and Detroit for the past couple of years, spending time on different airlines, between the three airports serving the NY metro area, I was left without a place to review my true travel experiences.

One of my favorite things about the site so far, beyond how cool it is to be able to see every non-stop route possible from a given departure city, is that it really encourages users to evaluate the entire travel experience, in a way that allows you to assess the negative, the positive, and to share stories about the quirky things that may have happened along your journey. All in all, Routehappy makes me feel like my voice is being heard, my experience being shared, and that those factors combined are making a difference.

Routehappy? I sure am.

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