A Virgin America Virgin

Funky purple lighting is just one thing I love about my new favorite airline.

I could see the purple glow before I even got close to the door of the plane.

Oh, sweet Virgin America airplane. How I have waited for you.

Slowly, slowly, we crawled in our line to the cabin door.

Sparkles!! The exterior of the airplane is glittery white!

I crossed into the cabin, surveying the plane. First class looked normal enough. Except the front and the back of the section had thick purple-tinted plastic to make up a wall. And, the seats. They sure did look nice, all black and leathery and big.

I continued walking through the main cabin section and came to my seat. 17F. A window. Abby and I had selected seats at the same time. She wanted an aisle. Me, a window. Neither of us had bothered to see if the middle seat was taken when we checked-in the day before.

It was.

We grumbled for a moment. And I am pretty sure I rolled my eyes when the person in the middle seat simply swooshed her legs to one side and expected me to climb over her.

It’s economy seating. There is no way I can squeeze between you, your legs and the seat.

I digress. Back to the airplane.

I sunk into the surprisingly cushion-y chair, resting my head in the adjustable headrest.

Ahhh.

I kicked my feet under the chair ahead.

I swear, there’s more stretch space than normal.

I pulled out my phone and took a picture of the cabin, which of course prompted me to turn to Abby and exclaim, “It even photos well!”

Then, I turned my attention to the screen embedded into the white space-age looking seat back in front of me.

Oh hello, I’ve heard stories about you, sweet screen.

Like Homer at the Springfield Power Plant, I begin to push all of the little buttons on the touchscreen. On Demand movies! Foreign Films! Satellite TV! On Demand TV! I am in airplane traveler heaven.

It’s not like I am not a seasoned flyer. It’s just that my normal trips don’t have the perks this quick flight to San Francisco had. In fact, most of my international flight can’t even hold a flame to the amenities this Virgin America plan was offering.

After my excitement waned with the multiple viewing options, I began to poke around the other selections available. E-mail. Chat. Yes. Chat. I pulled up the little screen and it showed the airplane seating chart.

I can type a message and have it go into the Airplane Chat Room. Seriously?

My mind reverted back to my teenage days, when unbeknown to our parents, my friends and I would hit up chat rooms to stir trouble.

I don’t suggest it on a Virgin flight, but still.

I dug deeper.

The rumors are true. Seat-to-seat chat. I can send a message to another passenger.

I had joked with Abby earlier about this, remarking how funny it would be if I found some hot guy to harass somewhere else on the plane. Of course, I wouldn’t do it, but still …

Instead, I chose to harass Abby.

I pulled up the screen to type her a message, expecting a keyboard to pop-up on the screen.

We are such an iPhone generation.

Nothing. Instead, an illustration told me to pick up the remote tucked into the arm of my seat. On the backside was a keyboard. A keyboard/remote. I quickly typed “so cool,” and then I was off to the next part of my exploration on my personal entertainment device.

Suddenly, I have ADD.

There’s music. Music videos. Radio stations. There’s games. There’s food and drink selections. There’s shopping.

This little touch screen has it all.

I sat back in my seat, looked out the window at the Las Vegas skyline from the McCarran runway. I smiled.

It’s time to go.

Abby and I were heading to San Francisco and Napa Valley for a Travel Blogger Girlie Weekend with Kristin. The idea was born quickly a few weeks ago, and within 24 hours after our initial discussion, tickets were purchased, hotels were secured, wineries were contacted.

We were ready to get down to business. Whatever that means.

And my favorite new airline was going to get us there.

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I need an airplane ride

After my trip in May to Maryland, I had convinced myself I needed one more visit to see my family and friends before Thanksgiving. May to late November was simply too long to go without a Family Fix.

I hemmed and hawed for a bit, deciding dates, asking work if I could have a quick trip back to my hometown. I got the go from them, and then I pulled up flights.

Holy. Mother. Of. Pricey.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Gone were the flights of yesterday, when I could go one-way from Las Vegas to Baltimore for $99 on Southwest. A one-way ticket had nearly tripled since the last time I lived in Las Vegas, two years ago. $240 one-way.

No way.

I tried to figure out a way to get a cheaper fare. I looked at SkyScanner. I searched Kayak. I applied for a Southwest credit card to get my free 20,000 miles (which only gets you one-way). Finally, I decided it just wasn’t worth the hard-earned $500+ to go home for a few days.

That money could pay for an entire vacation.

Yes, I wanted to see my family. But, I also knew there was a good chance they would be out here again before I took my Thanksgiving trip. (As evidenced in July when Mom was in California.) So, I let the idea go.

But, I still wanted to go somewhere before my Big Trip in September. I was in the throws of the denouement of my Las Vegas Honeymoon, and wanted to get out for a little before I became engrossed in the panic that had begun to set in. The panic of being stationary.

It all happened so quickly.

One night, Abby, Kristin and I were having a conversation about blogger ethics. We’re talking 50+ threads on my Gmail before we said “goodnight.”

“We should have this conversation over wine,” one of us had suggested. I don’t remember which one of us had the brilliant idea. Knowing us, it is a 33% chance of any.

And then, the idea was born.

Napa. July.

Within 24 hours, Abby and I had gone back and forth, picked dates and booked flights. I messaged my friend who owns a cute little place, Chardonnay Lodge, in Napa that we were coming to visit. I had done some PR work for her years back in trade, and had yet to cash in on the trade.

We had a hotel for the Saturday we were going.

A few days later, Kristin messaged we were set for Friday’s accommodations.

And then, my boss was working to set us up for tastings at wineries.

Kristin began planning our Friday evening activities — a meet-up with another awesome travel blogger, Spencer — and some low-cost noshing at San Francisco’s weekly food truck festival, Off the Grid.

Justlikethat my July Wanderlust and need to get on an airplane was quenched.

Everyday for three weeks, I thought about the trip. About getting out of town. About a girlie weekend. About the fact that the same time last year I had met Abby in Istanbul.

This was the first trip I had been on in years that actually had some semblance of a plan. Was being taken simply because it was three friends (even if I had yet to meet Kristin in person) who wanted to hang out, drink wine and talk travel.

Another first? I was flying Virgin America.

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