As I prepared to board my first ever Virgin America flight, the familiarity continued to elude me. The strangeness continued to grow at an alarming rate as some cancerous tumor. The boarding process itself made me scratch my head.
In my previous flights, mostly all Southwest, there were numbers and groups A, B, and C. There was order. Virgin Airlines, however, was a hot mess, like what you’d expect to find leftover on some mirrors and cushions in a sex club.
There was exclusive boarding, then gold member boarding, then silver member boarding, then small children and old people boarding, then Virgin America credit card boarding, then priority boarding, and then lettered groups such as a and b. I was in group b despite checking in 22 hours before my flight, so what additional groups followed mine I do not know. I imagine there were additional boarding groups that followed, such as “people who shit where they eat” and “people who need to get their shit together and not check in last minute”.
Even the plane felt weird: an Airbus over Boeing. A long walkway of pink and purple neon lights illuminated the darkness. The chairs were black leather. There was a sleekness, fashionable sense to it–did I just stumble into a gay bar in the Castro?
It was completely unlike the budget airlines I’d flown that felt like ugly shit (Southwest always had that pukey brown color scheme going on) thrown together and superglued. Every chair had a video touchscreen, and every seat had its own remote/game controller. You could order a meal without speaking to a flight attendant.
The educational safety video was a song and dance routine with children rapping. I couldn’t tell if I was more horrified or saddened. Even the information brochure was an attempt to be hip and cool and included comic-like cursing. What the $@%*!
The flight itself was normal, a bump here and there. I had a window seat and stared out over the landscape. The beaches of San Francisco had never looked so beautiful as they did when our flight sailed above them. It was a perfectly sunny day, and the sapphire and emerald waves crashed along the coast, the white foamy crests scattered like threads of lace.
Over Arizona, besides the long reddish patterns of mountains and flat desert plains, I saw housing developments that left a strangely beautiful pattern from the sky with how park space had been designed between sections–one nearly looked like a fleur de lis, and the others had some equally unusual patterns. They were not the hodge-podge cookie cutter rows of of house after house, or an appearance of a splatter of houses on the landscape. The development seemed well thought out.
Eventually the sun, long descended behind us, left a chilly darkness on the other side of the glass. Somewhere over New Mexico, the street lamps looked like blazing fires. The orange lights seemed larger than usual and flickered in the darkness. My eyes felt tired despite the terrible cup of coffee I had been served on the flight.
I wrote most of the way on the plane, a three hour flight to Austin. When I arrived, it was dark, humid, and birds oddly were singing at 10:30pm at the airport drop-off/pick-up area. It was very strange. I felt as if I had landed on a different planet.