Scheduled: Leave SFO at 9:10 PM :: Arrive JFK at 5:45 AM
Actual: Leave SFO at ~11:00 PM :: Arrive JFK at 7:08 AM
The flight was comfortable and the mood lighting actual did help dealing with the red eye. Seat pitch of 32" wasn't a real issue for us, and if it wasn't an issue on the red eye, it won't be an issue. However, we understand many taller than average folks may feel differently. We covered Red in detail earlier, so no need to rehash that now.
Ok, so the flight was late. Big deal right? It happens, especially if you fly SFO to JFK. Well, let us tell you about some concerns we have about Virgin America's flight patterns. First, our plane to JFK was coming to SFO via Los Angeles. We all know the LA to SF route is hardly the pillar of on-timeness. Our plane did not arrive until an hour after our scheduled departure. Add in de-boarding and getting the new passengers and crew on the plane and you have a two hour delay.
A two hour delay alone, when flying west coast to east coast, isn't the end of the world. Catch a bit of a tail wind and you can pound out that flight in under five hours easy. The real issues came when we arrived at JFK. Our plane arrived on the tarmac outside terminal four at JFK. We de-planed and boarded a bus which brought us to the terminal. Next we worked our way down to baggage claim and waited for our baggage. Again, not the end of the world, but something about boarding a bus after a red eye always rubs us the wrong way. Looking at Virgin America's FlightStats for August 12 seems to back up our experience. Even so, all this can be chalked up to airline newness. Soon, we are sure Virgin America will get a permanent terminal home at both JFK and SFO.
The real issue is this -- if you are planning on connecting once you get to JFK, forget about making any connection within say four hours of your scheduled arrival time. Put another way, schedule your JFK connecting flight four plus hours after your VA flight to JFK is scheduled to land. When you factor de-planing, retrieving baggage, Air train, possibly taking not one but two buses, you just can't get around needing that layover cushion.
In any event, once Virgin America adds more destinations, which is happening early this fall, there is a very good chance these early scheduling kinks will be a thing of the past. In a best case scenario you will be able to take VA all the way to your final destination, which is much easier than connecting through another airline.
Our advice? For now, ride Virgin America point to point and you will be extremely happy with all the in-flight options. However, if you fly VA coupled with other airline connections, prepare for some possible snafus during this "beta" phase.
Your turn. Have you flown Virgin America? Put your flight reviews here.