Alaska A321 Background:
Last week I needed to fly home from the Freddie Awards in Seattle, and noticed an interesting seat map configuration on the 5:30 PM flight to LAX. An Alaska A321? That means it must be a Virgin America plane!! Turns out it was a Virgin America BRAND NEW Airbus A321!
I flew on AS metal from LAX-SEA, so I was happy to get another shot at flying a VX plane before all the planes are retrofitted to Alaska. Flying just 4 days after VX’s commemorative flight, I was curious how much would have changed. Thankfully, not much has really changed yet!
TIP: If you want to fly on VX planes, they have 4 digit flight numbers, versus Alaska planes will have 3 digit flight numbers. All of them will be operated by Alaska now, as Virgin America had their final commemorative flight, VX1948 from San Francisco to Los Angeles on April 24. Currently, on Alaska’s website, they say that all VX Airbuses should be retrofitted by Fall 2018. Such a shame, as many of the VX interiors are so new! The A321 I just flew on was just delivered at the end of March!
Alaska Airlines 1792
Seattle (SEA)- Los Angeles (LAX)
Seat: 5A- Window- Premium Class (Main Cabin Select)
Aircraft: Airbus A321neo (Reg: N927VA)
Scheduled Departure: 5:30 PM
Actual Departure: On Time
Scheduled Arrival: 8:08 PM
Arrival to Gate: On Time
Before the Flight:
As an Alaska MVP member, I snagged complimentary Premium Class (previously, VX Main Cabin Select) seats 48 hours before departure. The process for requesting upgrades seemed confusing to me at first, as the website says when you’re booking that your “waitlisted” for Premium Class seats and you’ll “clear” at 48 hours. This happened to not be the case, and I just chose Premium Class seats 48 hours before on my booking as the fee went from $49 to $0.
Alaska MVP members can also get upgrades to First Class, but they are pretty hard to come by on the VX Airbuses as there are only 8 FC seats. I ended up position 7 on the waitlist and only #1 and #2 cleared for the upgrade.
The plane had the special “More to Love” livery which made be a bit excited. Low key it’s kinda ugly, but I mean still cool and unique I think!
Walking into the plane, I was struck by how new the plane looked! Interestingly enough, there wasn’t really a new plane smell. But it did smell nice I suppose? Maybe I just don’t know how a new plane smells like. I also noticed that the flight attendants were still in VX uniforms which was a nice surprise.
The white first class seats immediately caught my eye, and they were sparkling new! If only my upgrade cleared. 🙁
Just a few rows back, I headed to my
Main Cabin Select Premium Class seat. My heart filled with joy when the IFE screen still said “Red, Main Cabin Select”. Virgin America was still very much alive!
I noticed that the legroom was AMAZING. I flew an Alaska 737-900 to Seattle and was also in Premium Class but the legroom was not as good as on this A321! What a shame Alaska is going to remove and reconfigure this plane by the Fall. The seat was also much more comfortable than the thin seating on Alaska’s 737-900.
There is USB charging, and also power outlets at each seat which is very nice! Most of the features on the Red In-Flight Entertainment System were the same, but on-demand food ordering on the screen was disabled sadly.
Additionally, there is no live TV, but rather free movies! I remember VX used to charge for movies so this is positive change from Alaska (but Alaska is going to gut out the screens soon…sad).
The movie selections are synchronized with the selections that the Alaska offers when you stream to your device, and there is a selection of pre-recorded TV shows. Additionally, they have in-seat chat where you can message other seats on the plane! I will always remember flying on VX in 2009 and a kid messaged me on the IFE screen saying “Mom is that you?” and I was like “Nope, sorry” and he said “Stop playing around I know it’s you!!”. He decided to walk up the plane and it turns out, she was one row up right in front of me. LOL!
Wifi was $6 for an hour, or $10 for the flight. Also, you can use iMessage, Facebook messenger and WhatsApp for free which I really enjoyed!
DID THEY PLAY THE SAFETY VIDEO?
Yes, yes! They still played the famous VX Safety Video! #VXSafetyDance. I do enjoy the production value of the current video, but the old-school me still very much llikes the original cartoon Virgin America Safety Video from 10 years ago.
This was sadly a negative. I know before in Main Cabin Select, you could get practically any snack boxes and snacks for free. Not anymore.
On the 1 beverage service, I had to ask for a snack, as it wasn’t offered to me. They did have the old VX snacks, so I guess catering is still with VX. They were really good cookies on the bright side 🙂 And they still use VX cups and napkins.
Historically, VX gives one traditional drink service, and expects you to order free drinks on the screen if you want more, even for long transcontinental flights. That’s fine with me. But now with seat ordering deactivated, this presents a problem. Especially with my traditional Alaska Airlines flight to Seattle giving 2 drink services and snacks! They are going to have to somehow integrate the beverage service to be consistent, because the VX system of beverage service is very different from the Alaska system.
Rest of the Flight:
The little over 2 hour flight went by super quickly. One movie and watching the descent into LA took up all the time! I enjoyed my sunset flight, and had a really nice view over LA! I could see my school, and went over downtown as well! This plane was really smooth, and it was an overall amazing flight!
I was really happy with my flight. The purple mood-lighting will always have a special place in my heart. VX really started a revolution, and in ’08 it was really the coolest airline to fly on for me. Thanks to VX, many carriers have had to step up their products over the years and for that I thank VX greatly.
This was a really nice flight for me, and I was happy to fly on a brand new Airbus A321 still fitted with VX seating. I really did wish Alaska kept the VX brand, perhaps on premium routes. Flying the Alaska 737-900 to Seattle and then the VX A321 home showed the HUGE difference in experience. The Alaska 737-900 is leaps and bounds inferior to the VX A321. I do wish Alaska the best of luck, but I think they made a huge mistake in gutting the Virgin America brand.
Sidenote: For those following my travel adventures, first off thank you for your support! Also, I know I’m really behind on blogging, heck I haven’t even finished my New York Spring Break Report yet! I promise to get them posted soon 🙂 And my Seattle Trip Report as well.
Will you try to make one more Virgin America flight before Fall 2019? What are your thoughts on Virgin America and Alaska? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
MY SEATTLE WEEKEND TRIP REPORT:
Stay tuned to see the rest of my Seattle 2018 Weekend Trip here!
- My Experience Flying Alaska A321 Premium Class
- Priority Pass Review: Alaska Lounge at LAX
- How is Alaska Airlines’ 737-900 Premium Class
- Priority Pass Review: The New Alaska Lounge at SEA
- Hilton Bellevue Executive Level Review
- Boeing Everett Factory Tour Review
- Rental Car Review: Silvercar Seattle Audi A4
- Priority Pass Review: The Club at SEA Lounge