On Saturday afternoon Thom and I went to the community open house for the completely redesigned Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport. As a travel geek I was totally excited, and since T2 is the new home for Virgin America, as a VX loyalist I was doubly excited. This terminal is on the site of one of the original buildings at the airport and for several years served international flights. I remember coming here as a kid with my parents several times to drop off and pick up relatives traveling to and from the Philippines. For a time you could go to the gates if you weren’t traveling, and I’d even bring a bag with me so that I could put it on the conveyer belt and run it through the X-ray machine at the security checkpoint. I was just fascinated by the whole airport experience. Travel geek in training!
A detour: These are those kinds of moments when I miss my dad, who passed away almost five years ago now. He was an architect and was always interested in keeping track of new projects in the area, especially transportation infrastructure. So this was an event he would have loved. For example, several years ago he and my mom attended the groundbreaking for the Colma BART station near our house, and they were also at the opening of SFO’s new International Terminal. That sort of fascination has rubbed off on me. Back when I was living in D.C., one of the times I came back to visit my parents, I told my dad to pick me up not at the airport, but at a BART station along the then-new SFO extension, so that I could ride BART from the airport for the first time. He completely understood.
OK, back to the open house. As I said, T2 is the new home for Virgin America, as well as for American Airlines. I will say that Virgin America’s previous location in the International Terminal was nice too and was actually easier to get to from the airport BART station. Now that they’re in T2, from BART you either have to connect to AirTrain or walk a long-ish way through Terminal 3.
The open house was a free, ticketed event, and thankfully no security to get through, since flights were not yet operating. I was saying this was probably the easiest access to the gates that I’ll ever see. Red carpet, even:
The terminal is chock-full of shops and restaurants on the way to the gates. (We stopped inside a bookstore to browse, and I had to fight the instinct to load up on magazines. Force of habit.) Overall I’m impressed with the terminal; it’s light and airy with lots of windows for planespotting, and plenty of good places to eat. However I’m not sure there is enough seating at each gate area. We shall see. My next Virgin America flight may not be until August, so my first chance to actually use the terminal as a passenger will not be for a while.
The open house had a bunch of information booths and entertainment going on: bands on stage at the food court, prize raffles, and so on, including this Virgin America photo booth:
We were so on board with this. The lady with the props was like, do you want to be captains or flight attendants? Well, we couldn’t resist. We put on the little hats and red scarves and decided to do emergency-exit hands, and it’s hilarious how we instantly did the same Charlie’s Angels-like stance. Flight attendants, ready!
Most of the other visitors’ portraits were kind of “normal,” so I think the staff got a kick out of us. Fun times.
» See also: The rest of my photos from the T2 open house are up on Flickr.