My first experience with Virgin America has been riddled with problems (Flight VX796 – SEA to LAX). I can’t really blame them since these were technical difficulties. The plane that was suppose to fly in from San Francisco had a hydrolic pump failure. My flight was supposed to leave at 8:55pm. I got there at 8:15pm, only to find that it had been delayed to 11:30pm. Unsure if I read the time correctly, I went up to their counter and confirmed that there was indeed a problem and it was then they told me that there was problem with the plane, but it was now leaving (at 8:25pm) and should arrive around 11pm.
I walked past the security check point and noticed that my new gate was now S8. Apparently SeaTac airport has a north and south terminal which aren’t connected to the main terminal and requires taking a train/subway to. I get to S8 and no one’s at the gate. I look at the big board again and now there’s no gate associated to my flight.
My only choice appears to return back to the main terminal. So I take the train/subway back and go to A6 (gate noted on my boarding pass). Apparently that’s where all the disgruntled customers have begun to gather. I went to the counter and asked for an update on the status and if was possible to move to a different flight. They told me they don’t have any more flights to LAX today and all their competitors’ flights are already full. The apologized again. They were however giving out meal vouchers ($10) which was a nice gesture.
At this point in time, another lady at the counter got off the phone with operations. Apparently the plane that was about to take off earlier was called back again for maintenance. The current take off time appeared to be ~9:45pm and our take off time was postponed to 12:20am.
Sigh… I get my meal voucher and ended up going to Star Bucks for a mocha frappaucino + chocolate chip loaf cake. I wasn’t really hungry + my mom was saving food for me at home.
I contemplated on paying $8 for wireless internet at SeaTac. In the end I decided it wasn’t worth it. It was a good thing that I had put Google in offline reading mode (via Google Gears) before I left work, so now I had all my RSS feeds which I hadn’t had time to read in the past few days to pass some time with.
However without an internet connection, the only things I really could read were news articles and text, since images/video/links won’t be able to load. It’d be nice if Google Reader would download all images too when it’s going into offline mode.
Anyway, I quickly ran out of things to read, and I started doodling on my Tablet. I haven’t installed any drawing programs since I installed Win7 RC, so Paint was my only option. I’ve got to say that the new Paint for Win7 is much superior to the XP version . Maybe Vista already has this, but I haven’t really ever tried it on Vista. The brush feature was definitely a nice add on. Here’s a few of the doodles I did:
One feedback I have for MS Paint is that if I use my eraser (back end of tablet pen), it should switch to erasing automatically.
While I in the middle of doodling, there was another announcement with “good” news and “bad” news. Of course they gave the good news first and told us they had acquired another plane. The bad news was it was just landing in SF and but would take off as soon as possible. The new expected departure time was once again pushed back, this time to 12:50am. I started to feel really bad for my parents who were going to come pick me up. Initially I was supposed to arrive around 11:30pm. Now I’m arriving about 3:30am.
Some time later, there was another announcement. Apparently we’d be compensated. I believe it was a $50 credit for a future flight and details would be sent to us at a later date. A much better gesture than the $10 meal voucher, but still doesn’t make the experience much better.
The plane finally arrives and we board around 1:00am and we soon take off. Upon boarding the plane, it was like a dance club, with neon purple lighting. Pretty cool atmosphere. I love their safety video and found it to be very fun. I wonder why Jet Blue doesn’t use their LCDs to show their safety presentation. Or do they? I forget.
I’ve been playing with their Red (interactive system). TV selection is pretty limited. I believe Jet Blue had more TV channels. They do have premium TV and movie channels, which cost $8. I started browsing their music selection and was surprised they had a Mandarin Pop station, a Cantonese Pop station, and a Japanese Pop station. Wonder why they didn’t have a Korean Pop station.
Besides a free drink, everything else on board costs money. Apparently there’s no snack provided. Jet Blue beats them in this aspect. I love Jet Blue’s selection of snacks to choose from. They also have on-board wifi access, however to access it would cost $10.
The plane finally landed at 3:40am and reached the gate at 3:45am. However, we would be stuck on the plane for another 20 minutes. Apparently the jet bridge was malfunctioning and they couldn’t get it to attach to the plane door. They soon announced that it was a “serious” issue and were contemplating plan B which involved searching for another gate to park (hopefully one with a working jet bridge). Soon they announced plan C which was to bring one of those giant stairs and have people walk down. At this point, people started saying, “Just deploy the slides and we’ll slide the !@#$ down.”
Somehow, they managed to get the jet bridge to finally start working again and we get off the plane a little past 4am. I finally exited the terminal and met my parents.
This whole ordeal was a nightmare which took over 7 hours to complete.