Having been looking for a cheap excuse to fly for some time now, I finally found fares to San Francisco to be nearly rock bottom ($38 on VX there and $35 on WN back) and took it.
SEA-SFO on Virgin 751
I arrived to SeaTac with about 30 minutes until boarding. Walked right up to a check-in kiosk, printed my ticket, spent about 5 minutes in security and made my way to the gate. We boarded quickly and departed on-time and were probably about 80% full. I noticed that most of the people in the back of the plane, where I happened to be myself (22A), were deadheading and nonreving. Turned out the guy next to me was a VX pilot, and we chatted about Virgin, planes, the airline business, photography, and work for almost the entire two hours. He was very friendly and talkative and an all-around great guy to have met, and when he found out I was one of those a.net people (even though I really don't upload much there) he told the active flight attendants, who proceeded to then all stop by to ask me how many VX photos I have and other questions about it and then during their down time we were all sitting in the back of the plane chatting about how they got into the business and where our interest in aviation began. The FA's offered me lots of snacks and beverages (I took as much water as they would give me since I didn't have much). They asked me why I flew VX and I said that besides the great product that they offer (and I love their product), I wanted a shot of the cabin with the mood lighting since I blew it on my last trip with them. After we landed the crew and the pilot I was sitting next to offered to clean up the plane quick, shut all the shades, close the overhead bins and let me go to town with the plane. The FO even cleaned up a few of the first class cabin seats to get a shot...and then they cleared out of the plane and let me have a few minutes shooting it! What a treat! Besides having a great product, their crew were friendly (both the active flight crew and the deadheaders) and talkative, and went above and beyond for my photo-op. I will be flying them again.
SFO spotting was utterly frustrating and turned up very little that was worth keeping. After only an hour and a half I gave up and left to go into the city (which was my main purpose in going anyways).
OAK-SEA on WN3792
I arrived very early to OAK for my 8:15 departure since the sun had gone down and I ran out of time for anything left that I wanted to do in the city. I walked right up to the kiosk, took my ticket, spent 15 minutes watching a team of 8 TSA agents working one security station out of the eight available stations until I got through it, and then attempted to take some shots. While SFO shooting was disappointing, OAK was a waste of my camera battery. I'll consider myself lucky if I got one shot worth keeping from there. In any case, boarding was quick and we rotated about 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Once again, a lot of deadheading crew on an otherwise pretty dead plane (maybe 40% full at most). I started with my own row to myself, but started talking with a WN pilot in front of me who was deadheading and moved up his row. We talked about Southwest, Boeing (he has a high up contact and I found out some things that I sure didn't know), flying, aircraft, photos, and what we did for work and how we got into aviation, etc. He was very friendly and talkative and a genuinely good guy to have talked with for the better part of the two hour flight. The actual pilot of the flight noticed my camera on the way out and started talking to me about camera's and Canon's and photoshop, and I ended spending another 10 minutes after we were at the gate talking with him and the FO and shooting the cockpit and cabin.
Turned out that we were on a -300 that still had the old cockpit, but had been fitted with winglets which I was told meant that they intended to keep them.
Bottom line: Product definitely wasn't as good as VX, especially being on an older classic -300, but the friendliness of the crew both on and off the clock, made it a great flight that I'd be happy to take again.