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April 24th, 2018, a day full of emotion in San Francisco. This is the day that the small California based airline with a club like party atmosphere on board would cease to operate. Virgin America is and forever will be the game changer in the airline world. It was the airline that showed the American public how fun flying can be.
At 9:32pm on Tuesday, Virgin took to the skies one last time. It was a flight that non of the 185 passengers filled onboard the A321 Neo would ever forget.
Flight #1948 was flying the last flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles. It was the first route the airline had begun serving back in 2007. Originally there wasn’t supposed to be big party or celebration for this flight, but the fun outgoing Virgin America employees and fans weren’t going to let that happen. So, with the support of FlyerTalk, an online web discussion site that is involved with everything aviation, and the new owners Alaska Airlines, a huge party was not only an option now for the flight, it was a must have celebration for the airlines 11-year history.
The flight departed out of gate 51B one of Virgin America’s gates in terminal 2. At 7:00 FlyerTalk directors Nate Vallier and Brenden Hooley started to bring out different items to set up for the final flight. Within minutes multiple Virgin, Alaska, and FlyerTalk representatives were all helping to set up for the historic flight. Tables were brought out to be used for all the items the passengers on board flight 1948 would receive. Those items included a souvenir cup filled with luggage tags, stickers, pins, name tags, and more. Plus, every passenger got a special poster showing every Virgin America destination ever served and the time frame in which they did serve those places, and there was even more! Every passenger received a brand new safety card from each of the three aircraft types Virgin has (Airbus A319, A320, A321 NEO) All of that was just the beginning! The airline also had red velvet cupcakes made for each passenger to enjoy while in the boarding area plus a fun filled backdrop of the aircraft for everyone to take photos in front of. The boarding area itself was hectic with all the Airline employees and aviation enthusiast joining the flight, but it was a fun type of hectic, filled with a pure common joy, being aviation and Virgin America. The very last surprise came right before boarding where many Virgin employees gathered together to put on a flash mob of the safety announcement! It was lead by the YouTube famous dancing Virgin flight attendant Mikey Tongko.
At around 9:00pm, boarding began. It started with a special flight announcement from one of the Virgin America gate agents. She was in tears; while making her pre-flight announcements and in terms made almost everyone cry knowing this would be the last time she and her colleagues would work a Virgin flight. All the Virgin America employees in San Francisco came to the gate for this unforgettable flight.
Once on board, the brand new and stylish A321 NEO (N922VA), passengers began to find their seats. This was my first experience with the Virgin A321 and let me tell you, it’s absolutely stunning. It has a slightly more sleek look than the 319’s and 320’s do. I was in seat 22A, and everyone around me even the people in the middle seats were super excited to be on this history making flight. It was a feeling that could never be forgotten or created again.
As many know, Virgin America is famous for their fun-filled safety demonstration video, and for this flight all the guests on board got to help partake in the safety briefing. A video was sent out prior to the flight by FlyerTalk explaining what to do.
After pushing back from the gate, you could see all the Virgin America employees on the ramp waiving the plane goodbye for one last time. We then made a short taxi to the runway and soared out of SFO. We banked left as we began to make our way down to LAX. To my surprise, the cabin was rather calm during the flight, yet stories of past VX flights and experiences flooded the cabin and the PTV chat screen. The famous on demand ordering option was disabled for the flight however. Only special cookies and liquor were served, I had asked one of the flight attendants what she had thought about working the last flight and to my surprise, she answered “we didn’t even know it was the last flight” well she may not have known, but we do know one thing for sure, Sir Richard Branson knew about the last flight and came onboard as a 1 foot tall cardboard cut out! He was passed along throughout the plane for everyone to take pictures with, that was definitely a highlight of the flight.
So after the short 55 minute flight we touched down in LAX and everyone on the flight broke out in cheers and excitement for the last ever landing, then as we made our way to the gate at terminal 6 the crew played that unforgettable safety video again and everyone began to sing along one last time. The night wasn’t over quite yet though. All of the VX 1948 passengers were invited into the Alaska lounge for a few minutes to have a celebratory toast at midnight. During that hour or so I took a second to look around and I realized just how a single amazing airline and aviation in general can bring so many different people from so many different places together for one spectacular joyful event. Then as the clock struck 12 the emotional toasts were made and Virgin America was officially no more.
Unlike any other airline Virgin America brought joy and fun to their passengers, they proved that being Virgin can really change the industry forever. We’ll all miss you Virgin America. Thank you for being Virgin, for elevating the people, and for creating wow in the US airline industry.
WorldTravelReport- Thoughts That Fly…