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Knightsofmalta
Topic Author
Posts: 1754
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:51 pm

Virgin America, Business Class - A 320 To Chicago

Fri Aug 22, 2014 1:57 am

Folie1

INTRODUCTION

The Hilton LAX Airport really is a noisy hotel. Apart from the aircraft spooling up for departure right outside your window, there is also the noise form inside the hotel. You hear everything, every word spoken in the corridor outside. But it is only for the one night, fortunately.

Today I continue my journey back towards my usual time zone. On my way there, I will be stopping in Chicago.

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
Transport:
complimentary shuttle bus
Departs from: right outside the hotel lobby
Frequency: every 15 to 20 minutes depending on traffic
Journey time: about 5 minutes to terminal 3

CHECK-IN
Location:
terminal 3, departures level 2
Facilities: curb side check-in, check-in counters, web check-in

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It is only a very short distance from where the shuttle drops me off to the First Class check-in counters. Everything here is branded in typically Virgin style, with dark colours and magenta light everywhere.

From check-in I head one floor up to security and the gate area. The place is quite busy this morning, but there are no queues worth mentioning and passengers are rapidly processed.

LOUNGE
Location:
in the atrium, on the third floor above Burger King
Type of Lounge:
Virgin America Loft lounge
Facilities:
toilets in the lounge, bar, very few snack options and a toaster
Internet:
available, login and password at reception

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You actually have to pay to access the lounge – USD40. Kind of makes you wonder what the whole point is of having a lounge. But seeing as the flight eventually leaves with a delay of nearly two hours and the terminal is packed, at the end of the day those USD40 were not too badly invested.

The lounge itself is okay but nothing else. It is plain and also slightly grubby, there are crumbs all over the place, no matter what seat you choose.

BOARDING
Priority Boarding:
one thing I like about flying in the US is that First/Business Class passengers are boarded first. Of course this means you have to sit there and watch the entire aircraft file past you. But at least you find space for your hand luggage, which is no mean feat, judging by the copious amounts of luggage that are being brought into the cabin.

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Eventually we depart at 11:54. Apparently the reason for the delay is the bad weather in Chicago.

CABIN
Configuration: 2 + 2
Facilities: reading lamp, no power outlet
Audio and Video: available on demand, complimentary earphones in First Class or for purchase (USD3.-) in Economy.

The other nice thing about flying in the US is that even the narrowbodies still have a proper, dedicated Business Class seat up front. The seats are rather wide and comfortable. The colours in the cabin are a bit unusual and take some getting used to. As I enter the aircraft, all the shades are down to keep out the heat and, presumably, to maximise the effect of the mood lighting. But the black armrests, black bulkhead and magenta coloured glass do also make the cabin look very dark and gloomy.

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SERVICE
There are three cabin crew working the flight. The young lady up front is doing an good job. She is very chatty and makes sure to put passengers at ease. She is also very conscientious about her job. One guy sitting in Economy plonks his large suitcase in one of the overhead lockers in the First Class cabin. But the young lady is not having any of this. She removes the suitcase and takes it back into Economy Class.

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THE MEAL
Hot towel before the meal:
available, but not scented; the quality of the towels is good and they are quite thick
Choice:
after take-off menus are distributed, alas they are collected once I place my order and I cannot remember what the other dishes were
Delivery:
tray service
Type of meal:
lunch, hot meal
Meal:

  • Salad of rocket with cherry tomatoes, melon and feta cheese, with olive oil

  • Rigatoni with a tomato salsa, beans and cheese

  • Bread and butter

  • Mini chocolate tart with fresh fruit

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The service on Virgin America reminds me a lot of my trip to Hawaii with Hawaiian Airlines at the beginning of last year. First of all, as previously mentioned, the crew on this flight are really nice. Furthermore, you actually receive a meal and not just a packet of crisps.

The meal tray is set up by the flight attendant, it has not been prepared in advance by catering. The quality of the food is good, although the hot meal might have been heated a little more. Again though, our flight attendant shows a lot of attention to detail and warms the plates in the oven before she starts preparing the food. During the flight the crew pass through the cabin with a basket of snacks and other goodies.

I spend the rest of the flight reading and gazing out the window upon the sheer vastness of America. It really is quite an amazing place. Our flying time is just short of four hours, at the end of which we are not even remotely approaching the east coast. In contrast, from where I live in Switzerland I can cross the boarder into France or into Germany within a matter of twenty minutes and I find that quite normal.

ARRIVAL
Eventually we land with a delay of a bit more than one hour. Our approach brings us in over the lake, with the skyscrapers of Chicago peering out of the clouds to our left. The taxi to the gate takes quite a long time, and strangely enough it does not say anywhere which terminal we are arriving at.

GETTING INTO TOWN
Transport:
CAT – suburban train
Departs from: central station at O’Hare Airport
Frequency: regular trains, the frequency varies depending on the time of day
Journey time: 80 minutes
Fare: USD5.-

I figure if I take a taxi I’ll probably end up getting stuck in the middle of the rush hour traffic. So instead I head down into the basement and follow the sign for the CAT. To get to my hotel I have to change once at Lake, from where it is just one stop.

And now it slowly dawns on me that I am finally on my last leg…
 
agrflyer
Posts: 221
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2005 3:36 pm

RE: Virgin America, Business Class - A 320 To Chicago

Fri Aug 22, 2014 5:41 am

Thanks for posting. As always it was a pleasure reading your reports. Where did you stay in Chicago? I am flying to ORD (from where my honeymoon road trip starts) on September 16 on LH in their infamous old C class. My soon to be wife wanted to stay in the Trump.
Have a safe flight back to Switzerland
July 2018, A3 C-Class ZRH-ATH-TLV-ATH-VIE
July 2018, OS C-Class VIE-ZRH
September 2018, ZRH-MXP-VIE-YYZ-LGA / JFK-VIE-ZRH on OS, LX and AC in Y and C
 
Carfield
Posts: 2187
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:49 pm

RE: Virgin America, Business Class - A 320 To Chicago

Fri Aug 22, 2014 10:11 am

Just a FYI, there are actually power outlets on Virgin America's planes. They are located right below the armrest.
The printed menus can be kept if you want to. Most of the F/As just recycled them and they have one less item to clean at the end of the flight. They don't reuse the printed menus.

Thanks for the trip reports!

Carfield
 
Knightsofmalta
Topic Author
Posts: 1754
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:51 pm

RE: Virgin America, Business Class - A 320 To Chicago

Fri Aug 22, 2014 5:52 pm

Hi agrflyer

Quoting agrflyer (Reply 1):
Thanks for posting. As always it was a pleasure reading your reports.

Thanks, my pleasure.

Quoting agrflyer (Reply 1):
Where did you stay in Chicago?

I'm staying at the Langham, which is right next door to the Trump. I've not been in the Trump but I can certainly recommend the Langham. The club rooms on the 12th floor are very nice and the service is outstanding.

Quoting agrflyer (Reply 1):
I am flying to ORD (from where my honeymoon road trip starts) on September 16 on LH in their infamous old C class.

In that case congratulations and all the best for your upcoming wedding.

Quoting agrflyer (Reply 1):
Have a safe flight back to Switzerland

Thanks, I hope so.

Hi Carfield

Quoting Carfield (Reply 2):
Just a FYI, there are actually power outlets on Virgin America's planes. They are located right below the armrest.

Thanks for the info. The thing is, all that black makes it hard to see anything.

Quoting Carfield (Reply 2):
The printed menus can be kept if you want to.

I figured, I was just not quick enough for the young lady and afterwards I didn't want to bother her again.

Quoting Carfield (Reply 2):
Thanks for the trip reports!

My pleasure.

Thanks for commenting.

Cheers,
William
 
adamspotter
Posts: 1191
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:06 pm

RE: Virgin America, Business Class - A 320 To Chicago

Sun Aug 24, 2014 11:57 am

Hi William,

Another nice report you made here.
I was wondering what you were going to fly next, what a great idea to try VX's F class out. Have flown VX F myself a couple of times and surely enjoyed it. The seat is very comfortable and I love all the mood lighting (but understand that some people think it is too much). The crew are all so young and enthusiastic, sure beats the older crew you get on other US airlines.


Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter):

The Hilton LAX Airport really is a noisy hotel. Apart from the aircraft spooling up for departure right outside your window, there is also the noise form inside the hotel. You hear everything, every word spoken in the corridor outside. But it is only for the one night, fortunately.

Hmm, pretty poor for an hotel you pay so much for IMO..

Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter):

You actually have to pay to access the lounge – USD40. Kind of makes you wonder what the whole point is of having a lounge. But seeing as the flight eventually leaves with a delay of nearly two hours and the terminal is packed, at the end of the day those USD40 were not too badly invested.

Something I always find hard to get used to when flying in the USA. Even though you fly F or are Elite Plus there is no lounge access without paying.. And TBH, the lounges aren't really worth the money you pay for it.

Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
one thing I like about flying in the US is that First/Business Class passengers are boarded first

Yes, always happy with priority boarding. The suitcases some people bring with them 

Thanks for sharing!

cheers,

Brendan
 
Knightsofmalta
Topic Author
Posts: 1754
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:51 pm

RE: Virgin America, Business Class - A 320 To Chicago

Mon Aug 25, 2014 2:09 am

Hi Brendan

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 4):
Another nice report you made here.

Thanks!

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 4):
I was wondering what you were going to fly next, what a great idea to try VX's F class out.

When I was planning the trip I decided I wanted to try out LX's A 330-300 F product again, so that excluded SFO or LAX, which meant I had to figure out a way of getting to somewhere LX operates the A 330.

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 4):
The seat is very comfortable and I love all the mood lighting (but understand that some people think it is too much).

The moodlighting is cool, just a bit gloomy.

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 4):

Hmm, pretty poor for an hotel you pay so much for IMO.

And how.

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 4):
Something I always find hard to get used to when flying in the USA. Even though you fly F or are Elite Plus there is no lounge access without paying.. And TBH, the lounges aren't really worth the money you pay for it.

I don't understand that either. Makes you wonder what the point is of having a lounge in the first place...

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 4):
Thanks for sharing!

My pleasure, thanks for commenting.

Cheers,
William
 
User avatar
sultanils
Posts: 1931
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2010 5:37 pm

RE: Virgin America, Business Class - A 320 To Chicago

Mon Aug 25, 2014 10:25 am

William, thanks for another one, I enjoyed! Funky seems the word to use here, but it’s refreshing to see the service is still quite good - at least in business class. I tend to applaud airlines that stand out in one way or another, concerning looks and branding, VX is one of those.

Quote:
Everything here is branded in typically Virgin style, with dark colours and magenta light everywhere.

Makes it all look dark though?

Quote:
You actually have to pay to access the lounge

Even when on a C class ticket?

Quote:
Our flying time is just short of four hours, at the end of which we are not even remotely approaching the east coast. In contrast, from where I live in Switzerland I can cross the boarder into France or into Germany within a matter of twenty minutes and I find that quite normal.

It does make you see things in perspective  

Sultanils
In thrust we trust.
 
Knightsofmalta
Topic Author
Posts: 1754
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:51 pm

RE: Virgin America, Business Class - A 320 To Chicago

Thu Aug 28, 2014 2:57 pm

Hi Nils

Quoting sultanils (Reply 6):
William, thanks for another one, I enjoyed!

My pleasure. Glad you enjoyed.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 6):
Funky seems the word to use here, but it’s refreshing to see the service is still quite good - at least in business class. I tend to applaud airlines that stand out in one way or another, concerning looks and branding, VX is one of those.

Very funky. Although to be honest, at some point it's a slight overkill and you start yearning for something more 'normal'.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 6):
Makes it all look dark though?

Yes, and very gloomy.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 6):
Even when on a C class ticket?

Yep! Not sure what other carriers in the States are like in that respect. I didn't have to pay in the United lounges, but maybe that's because of the status.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 6):
It does make you see things in perspective

And it makes you humble. I think.

Thanks for taking the time to comment Nils.

Cheers,
William
 
AKLDELNonstop
Posts: 323
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 5:04 pm

RE: Virgin America, Business Class - A 320 To Chicago

Sat Aug 30, 2014 12:15 pm

Nice report, thanks for posting. I've always wanted to try out VX on that route but invariably end up in AA since I have status with them. Food presentation definitely looks better than on AA domestic F.

Quoting knightsofmalta (Reply 7):
Yep! Not sure what other carriers in the States are like in that respect. I didn't have to pay in the United lounges, but maybe that's because of the status.

So in the US, status doesn't automatically get you lounge access when flying domestic. Lounge access is paid through day rates or yearly memberships (or with certain high fee credit cards). I think (but am not certain), the reason for this is that there are far too many status holders in the US and lounges would have to be very big to accommodate them. Club memberships have actually become fairly big revenue streams for the airlines. As another poster mentioned, the lounge quality is (usually) inferior to what you see in Europe and certainly Asia. So why do people pay for them, you ask - well if you travel for work and have frequent flight delays to deal with, they provide a workplace with some semblance of beverages.

Quoting agrflyer (Reply 1):
My soon to be wife wanted to stay in the Trump.

Trump Chicago is actually quite good. Views are amazing if you can get an east facing room or a high floor north facing room. For some reason, the big chains (SPG, Marriott etc.) properties' in Chicago aren't really very good.
 
Knightsofmalta
Topic Author
Posts: 1754
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:51 pm

RE: Virgin America, Business Class - A 320 To Chicago

Wed Sep 03, 2014 8:37 am

Hi AKLDELnonstop

Quoting AKLDELNonstop (Reply 8):
Nice report, thanks for posting. I've always wanted to try out VX on that route but invariably end up in AA since I have status with them. Food presentation definitely looks better than on AA domestic F.

Thanks. I'm always torn between going to a carrier with which I've got status and trying out something new. More recently though trying something new seems to get the better of me.

Quoting AKLDELNonstop (Reply 8):
So in the US, status doesn't automatically get you lounge access when flying domestic. Lounge access is paid through day rates or yearly memberships (or with certain high fee credit cards).

No, I think it's the other way round. Flying premium doesn't automatically get you free access to the lounge, but status does.

Quoting AKLDELNonstop (Reply 8):
I think (but am not certain), the reason for this is that there are far too many status holders in the US and lounges would have to be very big to accommodate them.

That's the same issue Lufthansa had with the Senators, which is why they've made it more difficult to achieve Senator status.

Quoting AKLDELNonstop (Reply 8):
So why do people pay for them, you ask - well if you travel for work and have frequent flight delays to deal with, they provide a workplace with some semblance of beverages.

Fair enough, but I still think it's kind of cheap.

Quoting AKLDELNonstop (Reply 8):
Trump Chicago is actually quite good. Views are amazing if you can get an east facing room or a high floor north facing room. For some reason, the big chains (SPG, Marriott etc.) properties' in Chicago aren't really very good.

The Trump certainly looked very fancy!

Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Cheers,
William
 
agrflyer
Posts: 221
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2005 3:36 pm

RE: Virgin America, Business Class - A 320 To Chicago

Wed Sep 03, 2014 10:32 am

Quoting AKLDELNonstop (Reply 8):
Trump Chicago is actually quite good. Views are amazing if you can get an east facing room or a high floor north facing room. For some reason, the big chains (SPG, Marriott etc.) properties' in Chicago aren't really very good.

good to know. I enroled for their loayality program and as a welcome gift I received an upgrade to a Suite for free
July 2018, A3 C-Class ZRH-ATH-TLV-ATH-VIE
July 2018, OS C-Class VIE-ZRH
September 2018, ZRH-MXP-VIE-YYZ-LGA / JFK-VIE-ZRH on OS, LX and AC in Y and C
 
lpdal
Posts: 1971
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2012 9:49 pm

RE: Virgin America, Business Class - A 320 To Chicago

Wed Sep 03, 2014 3:49 pm

Great report KoM,

I'd love to do FLL-LAX-FLL or SFO one of these days, problem is that it always prices out for over $1,800 USD roundtrip...and I'm not sure the old recliner hard product is worth it, but the food is certainly delicious. I wonder how they'll measure up with B6 with their new Mint J Class that is now being used on routes other than transcons.

Thanks again!

-LPDAL
TWU represented. All of my views and posted content are mine alone, and should not be viewed as official communication from my employer, its subsidiaries thereof, or any other entities or airlines.
 
Knightsofmalta
Topic Author
Posts: 1754
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:51 pm

RE: Virgin America, Business Class - A 320 To Chicago

Sun Sep 07, 2014 6:12 pm

Hi agrflyer

Quoting agrflyer (Reply 10):
good to know. I enroled for their loayality program and as a welcome gift I received an upgrade to a Suite for free

That's rather a generous welcome gift! Something similar happened to me on SWISS once. I was on my way to Japan. With the flight from ZRH to NRT I qualified for Senator status. When I returned to Zurich a week later I was upgraded to First because I was the only SEN on the plane, which also felt a bit like a welcome gift.

Hi LPDAL

Quoting LPDAL (Reply 11):
I'd love to do FLL-LAX-FLL or SFO one of these days, problem is that it always prices out for over $1,800 USD roundtrip...

That's awfully expensive. But I think their reduced Business Class fare only open a certain time in advance.

Quoting LPDAL (Reply 11):
and I'm not sure the old recliner hard product is worth it, but the food is certainly delicious.

The seat was okay I guess. But the food certainly was good. And a bit different from the normal offerings.

Quoting LPDAL (Reply 11):
I wonder how they'll measure up with B6 with their new Mint J Class that is now being used on routes other than transcons.

I'd have loved to try the Mint service too. Perhaps next time.

Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Cheers,
William
 
User avatar
WROORD
Posts: 747
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2009 5:36 pm

RE: Virgin America, Business Class - A 320 To Chicago

Sun Sep 28, 2014 12:34 am

Nice report as always. I just wanted to clear one thing :

Quoting agrflyer (Reply 1):
Transport: CAT – suburban train
Departs from: central station at O’Hare Airport
Frequency: regular trains, the frequency varies depending on the time of day
Journey time: 80 minutes

It is called CTA not CAT (Chicago Transit Authority) or the "L" as we call it here and it is not a suburban train but rather the subway. The suburban train is called 'metra'. The fare is $5 from O'Hare, anywhere else is $2.25. It takes about 60 minutes from O'Hare to the Loop, which is Chicago downtown.
 
Knightsofmalta
Topic Author
Posts: 1754
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:51 pm

RE: Virgin America, Business Class - A 320 To Chicago

Fri Oct 03, 2014 7:38 pm

Hi WROORD

Quoting WROORD (Reply 13):
Nice report as always. I just wanted to clear one thing :

Thanks.

Quoting WROORD (Reply 13):
It is called CTA not CAT (Chicago Transit Authority) or the "L" as we call it here and it is not a suburban train but rather the subway.

Oops, thanks for the clarification.

Cheers,
William
 
StlHsvSfoSan
Posts: 176
Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2012 4:24 pm

RE: Virgin America, Business Class - A 320 To Chicago

Thu Oct 09, 2014 1:48 am

Thanks for the trip report ! I will be flying VX for the first time in F (SFO-SAN), so I know better what to expect.

Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
The Hilton LAX Airport really is a noisy hotel. Apart from the aircraft spooling up for departure right outside your window, there is also the noise form inside the hotel. You hear everything, every word spoken in the corridor outside.

I had a similar experience at the Sheraton LAX Airport when I was there in July. Not so much airplane noise, but people's voices as they were walking by, and the teenagers next door opening and closing their door every 30 seconds.
 
Knightsofmalta
Topic Author
Posts: 1754
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:51 pm

RE: Virgin America, Business Class - A 320 To Chicago

Sun Oct 12, 2014 7:48 am

Hi StlHsvSfoSan

That's a complicated pseudonym you've got there...!

Quoting StlHsvSfoSan (Reply 15):
Thanks for the trip report ! I will be flying VX for the first time in F (SFO-SAN), so I know better what to expect.

My pleasure. I'm sure you'll enjoy Virgin. I thought they were quite good and their crews are much friendlier (and younger...) than the ones you normally get on US domestic services.

Quoting StlHsvSfoSan (Reply 15):
I had a similar experience at the Sheraton LAX Airport when I was there in July. Not so much airplane noise, but people's voices as they were walking by, and the teenagers next door opening and closing their door every 30 seconds.

At the Hilton LAX it's a combination of the two. I wouldn't my the jet engine noise so much being a geek. But I think I must have had a room next to the same group of teenagers as you!

Thanks for taking the time to comment. Will you be writing a trip report about your Virgin experience?

Cheers,
William
 
StlHsvSfoSan
Posts: 176
Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2012 4:24 pm

RE: Virgin America, Business Class - A 320 To Chicago

Tue Oct 14, 2014 1:04 am

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 16):
That's a complicated pseudonym you've got there...!

It is based on my "home" airports throughout my life - STL, HSV, SFO, SAN.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 16):
At the Hilton LAX it's a combination of the two. I wouldn't my the jet engine noise so much being a geek. But I think I must have had a room next to the same group of teenagers as you!

The airplane noise definitely wouldn't bother me !

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 16):
Thanks for taking the time to comment. Will you be writing a trip report about your Virgin experience?

I might try doing a trip report (it would be my first), but it depends on if I am not running late (which I tend to do in the mornings).

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