On the Ground: Virgin America shares the Clubhouse at SFO with Virgin Atlantic Airways, from which it licenses the Virgin brand. The Clubhouse — located in Concourse A, level 5, before security — wasn’t open for my early-morning departure (hours at SFO are 1–4:15 p.m. daily), but I have used the San Francisco lounge for trans-Atlantic flights on Virgin Atlantic and enjoyed the full bar, restaurant-style meals and vivid color scheme: blue at the bar, where I sipped a proper martini (shaken, not stirred), red for the swivel chairs along the big, sound-proofed windows overlooking the runway. The lounge offers free WiFi, a juice bar and a shower when it’s open. The lounge isn’t free. Virgin America’s first-class, Main Cabin Select and Elevate frequent-flyer members can buy access to the SFO Clubhouse for $35. (25/30)
Pre-flight: Virgin America uses single-aisle Airbus A319s and A320s. My round-trip flight between San Francisco and Seattle was full on both legs, but good-humored and efficient flight attendants got everyone seated and bags stowed with a minimum of fuss. Like other domestic airlines, Virgin America’s business class, called Main Cabin Select, fuses elements of business and premium economy. Main Cabin Select passengers are among the first to board. Well before take-off, our aircraft mood lighting — now indigo, now shades of crimson — created a club-like mood and welcome sense of occasion. (28/30)
In-flight: Main Cabin Select’s leather seats are the same 17-inch width as the seats in economy but with an additional six inches of pitch between rows. Headsets are gratis, as are food and beverages. I savored a lemon and tarragon chicken salad wrap with carrots, bell peppers and frisée lettuce going north, and a Caprese turkey sandwich with mozzarella and basil heading south. Both were moist and good. I spent $5.95 on my 90-minute flights (it’s $12.95 on transcontinental flights) to use the reliable Gogo In-Flight email and Web-surfing system at my seat’s power outlet. When I took a work break, I plunged into Red, Virgin America’s imaginative and enjoyable entertainment system, which offers oodles of games, seat-to-seat texting, movies, TV shows and music (I tuned into Bach and Bob Dylan). You can use Red to order food and drink on demand with a handset or seatback touch-screen. I sipped green, anise-flavored absinthe and looked out at the cloudscape. (38/40)
The Experience: Virgin America offers a superior domestic business-class service. Its high style makes flying fun.
Total Score: 91/100
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I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
San Antonio celebrated 300 years of progress in May 2018. With a clear vision following that anniversary year, the Texan city set its sights firmly on 300 more. While commemorating this milestone, the city underwent a major overhaul to prepare for the next phase in its history.
Step right up to the greatest show on Earth as FXExpress Publications, Global Traveler, trazeetravel.com and whereverfamily.com celebrate their 2020 award winners! Join the big top on Dec. 14 as we virtually award the winners of the 17th annual GT Tested Reader Survey awards, including the Airline and Hotel of the Year; the 17th annual Wines on the Wing Airline Wine Survey; the eighth annual Leisure Lifestyle Awards; the sixth annual The Trazees; and the third annual Wherever Awards.
When you think of a relaxing spa day, mountains, rivers and view of gorgeous landscapes pop in your head; a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of any city’s booming music and honking taxis. SoJo Spa Club and Hotel gives you the relaxing feeling of being away while still staying close to the busy center of Manhattan.
Dance the night away with Grand Hotel’s Ballroom Dance offer, available May 16–18. Dancers of all skill levels will experience a diverse range of ballroom dance styles, alongside daily breakfast and dinner, a welcome reception and complimentary golf green fees.
Though air travel slowed as airports temporarily closed and borders shuttered to stifle the spread of coronavirus, the airline industry — led by oneworld alliance member airlines — enacted enhanced protective measures to reduce risk and protect passengers.