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My Brush with Glamour and a Margarita Machine on Virgin America

Virgin America inaugurated its nonstop service from San Francisco to Puerto Vallarta on Friday, and I was lucky enough to join for a quick jaunt down to Mexico. (Rough job, I know.) Before my posh, in-flight experience, I never considered Mexico for a weekend away—although I’ve certainly fantasized about it. I was sure that the hassle of layovers and a long, expensive flight wouldn’t be worth just a couple days in paradise. But with Virgin’s fares as low as $119 each way and service that allows your vacation to literally start on the plane, there’s no reason not to jet down to Mexico this winter, even if you’ve run out vacation time for the year. Click on to see the fiesta that was Virgin’s inaugural flight to Puerto Vallarta. There might not be a mariachi band on every plane, but Virgin is leading the charge to put the party and style back into air travel. 
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  • Festive fanfare decorated the gate at San Francisco International Airport.

    Festive fanfare decorated the gate at San Francisco International Airport.

  • Mexico vacation

    A Mexican breakfast awaited passengers at the gate. I have never been so happy to see breakfast burritos.

  • A mariachi band got the fiesta going.

    A mariachi band got the fiesta going.

  • Mexico vacation

    I’ve never met a margarita machine I didn’t like. So what if it was 8 a.m?!

  • Mexico vacation

    Breakfast of a champion … if by champion you mean someone who plans on being drunk for the next thirty-six hours.

  • Mexico vacation

    Virgin America VP Ross Bonanna cuts the ribbon! Viva fun, giant scissors!

  • Mexico vacation

    Thanks in part to the purple mood lighting, Virgin’s planes are more “swanky lounge” and less “uncomfortable prison of beige.” The airline is certainly ushering in a renaissance of Jet Age–like travel, with a focus on having fun on the flight. (You mean air travel doesn’t have to be a miserable, necessary evil of travelling? Imagine that.) It’s clear that they want you to enjoy the journey as much as the destination (or at least, almost—it’s hard to beat a Puerto Vallarta beach), and they’re making that happen by providing fun touch-screen entertainment and having the crew act more like cruise directors (capable ones, of course) instead of corporate robots that resent your presence. It’s like the show PanAm, except with fewer espionage and sexual-harassment plotlines.

  • Mexico vacation

    To order food and drinks, you use the touch-screen on the seat back in front of you. Some options, like the designer San Francisco-based coffee Philz, is free (a cup would set you back $3 if you visited one of the stores), while other meals cost between $5 and $8. Not bad, considering the food is locally made by renowned chefs including Cat Cora and Tyler Florence.

  • Mexico vacation

    We were served spicy hot chocolate. Of course I put tequila in it.

  • Mexico vacation

    Reviewing my itinerary on the flight. Swimming with dolphins? Sign me up!

  • Mexico vacation

    The mariachi band serenaded us on the flight. (And because everyone was drinking, this was in no way annoying.)The group is called Trio Sol de Mexico and they are total dolls, in case you want to book them for your next fiesta. Or, you know, bring them on vacation with you. They do perform in-flight entertainment.

  • Mexico vacation

    Here is a picture of a happy passenger, Jenny. Jenny won a free trip to Puerto Vallarta with her lucky guest by submitting her craziest vacation story to Virgin’s video challenge, Viva La Vacacion. Virgin asked contestants to submit videos about their wildest vacation story. Jenny’s story involved a hearing-aid convention, a room-service mishap, and a jaunt through a hotel lobby naked. Moral of her story: nudity helps you win contests.

  • More mariachi bands greeted us at customs. Hola, Puerto Vallarta. Mucho gusto.

    More mariachi bands greeted us at customs. Hola, Puerto Vallarta. Mucho gusto.

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