Today Virgin America operated the first revenue inaugural flight of the Airbus A321neo aircraft. Flight VX1 took off from San Francisco at 8:00am PDT and landed five hours later at Washington D.C.’s Regan Airport. The occasion was celebrated by both Airbus and Virgin America with cake and balloons at the gate, and commemorative pins and key chains handed out during the flight. The A321neo is Airbus’s newest version of their popular A320 family of aircraft. Virgin America was the worldwide launch airline carrier for the new aircraft produced by Airbus.
The inaugural flight has been planned since early this year, and I had even purchased a ticket as I’ve never had the chance to fly an “inaugural” flight. Unfortunately, my schedule became conflicted, and I could not take the time for this flight. I was watching and googling the news feeds looking for coverage of the event, and was surprised to see very little main line press. I would speculate that Alaska Airlines, who now owns Virgin America wasn’t too excited to promote the A321neo inaugural flight being that they are a mostly Boeing fleet, and look to keep it that way.
Virgin America named their first A321neo aircraft “neo kid on the block”, – traditional Virgin America style.
The flight was covered by some passengers on both Twitter and Flyertalk. The coverage was good and included several pictures. Both Michael Schoen @MichaelSchoenDC and Adrian Leung @Carfield76 tweeted numerous times before, during and after the flight. Hashtags #A321neo #A321neoInaugural both were updated frequently and are good references for the day’s event.
Looking pretty new
The A321neo for Virgin America represents some of the last vestiges of the now old “VX Culture”. Virgin America is an all Airbus 320 family fleet. This coupled with the fact they were an American carrier made them a natural to be the worldwide launch point for this new craft. Going forward Alaska Airlines has said that they’ll probably have some Airbus’s until the mid-2020s. A lot can happen in five to seven years, and we’ll see if this holds true.
One other item I find very interesting about this inaugural flight is how quiet Alaska Airlines and Virgin America were about it. Not one mention on the website or blogs. Not one mention on twitter. No press releases (at least none I could find). It’s obvious that the day after this first flight, Alaska Airlines considered it just another day.
In the meantime, Virgin America has already taken possession of another A321neo, and will be deploying it on a SFO-JFK route. I look forward to finally enjoying the A321neo.