Friday, May 7, 2010

Post 20.1: Flashback - San Francisco, Part 1 (May 2009)

S.O.F.A.T. is supposed to stand for Stories of Food and Travel, but so far the proportion of food to travel is way off! Since I haven't been traveling too much during the first half of the year (first non-Vegas trip this year will be Memorial Day weekend), I've decided to do a little flashback to May of last year.  Coincidentally, May is when I took my first non-Vegas trip last year too.

In the beginning months of 2009, I was studying for my Series 7 exam in order to be fully licensed to sell investment products.  (Wow, what an elevator pitch.)  My career path (and my travel plans) seemed so easily laid out.  I would get my Series 7, then my Series 66, insurance, etc.  I would quickly make bank, buy tables for my friends, pour Dom, and flash my cufflinks out the window of my Lexus.  Ah, and my tie would be Burberry, and my briefcase would be LV.  Ha! I was officially laid off on May 1, 2009.  All my dreams were shattered.

I had booked a trip to San Francisco on May 15 to celebrate the completion of my Series 7 exam.  And since the exam was to be held in Irvine, I booked the flight from Orange County's John Wayne Airport.  SNA-SFO was a new route for Virgin America at the time, so they offered a $39 one-way deal. (Sweet deal.) But since I had been laid off by the bank, there was no need to take the exam in the OC or fly out from SNA.  But alas, change fees are change fees, which meant I was going to fly out of SNA no matter what.

I had already traveled from home (626) to an interview (310) to Karin's (909) to SNA airport (949)... 415 seemed like a nice place to unwind.  (Thanks Karin for the ride!) Upon arriving at the VX check-in counter (way, way, way early), the agent asked if I would like to upgrade to first class for $50.  While I idled in my response, she quickly added, "you'd already be paying $15 to check in your bag..."

"Sure, is MasterCard okay?"

So my first flight with Virgin America was going to be in First Class.  I didn't have any problem with that!

Pre-flight ritual.
Browsing (and purchasing) a magazine at the stands and a small snack.

Loving the leather.  I like that the bottle of water is already there.

Footloose! There was more legroom than I knew what to do with.

Pre-departure drink.  Gin and tonic to start the trip.

Are you on the list?
Virgin's famed mood lighting keeps the cabin nightclub-esque.

The SNA runway.  A Delta jet sits at the gate.

A neighbor arrives.  
This was one of my last looks at an NWA plane before the liveries changed.

A gift box.
VX provides a complimentary box of appetizers for first class passengers.

Incriminating, no? 
3 appetizers, 1 drink, and 2... it was just a commercial.

We're just friends!
Thumbs up for personal screens and TV on-demand.

Appetizer no. 2.  The only non-shaky picture I managed to take.
I think a combo of the high altitude and the third drink was getting to my head.

One more. 
I was fully taking advantage of the all-you-can-drink offer.

Authentic American Absinthe.
Nope, this wasn't the original French one that caused people to hallucinate or to see fairies.

Getting close.
A look out of the window provides a glimpse to the South Bay area.

The friendly female Marine sitting next to me (she was CUT... I think her thighs could pop beer bottles open) taught me a trick for flying with Virgin.  She suggested to always get to the VX check-in counter early to score the $50 upgrade to first class.  It totally beats paying the full price ($200+) for the hour-or-so trip from the Southland to the Bay Area.  

Our very pleasant (and slightly inebriated) hour-long chat even produced a few pictures, which she exclaimed were going directly on Facebook.  Ohhh.. remind me not to take intoxicated pictures with strangers ever again, please.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the cabin crew would like to welcome you to San Francisco..." 

Time to stumble off the plane... more posts while in the city to come! Until then, let's all get S.O.F.A.T.

ML - 20100623/20100515

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