Moments before 10am, over 50 furries await beneath a cloud structure for a security escort. We meet with SFPD (having fursuiting cleared post-security) and Virgin America representative before being organized into three distinct lines for security. Those in pre-check (and CLEAR) go ahead and proceed through their respective lines. The rest in the group? Their own dedicated line.
The security and airline representatives oversaw the screening. Once a furry was through, they were permitted to suit up had they carried them on. Once all the suiters were ready, they were escorted to the gate (all humans were free to go ahead).
But first, a group photo:
An old woman came by to get a photo of the giant, walking menagerie. It reportedly made her day.
Upon reaching the gate came plenty more photo-ops and fun reactions from people leaving the inbound flight. This was followed by a pleasant surprise:
It was around this time someone took a photo that would make the front page of Reddit.
Furflight Passengers who opted in were given a nifty collectable baggage tag as well as an exclusive badge, as shown below:
They called out First Class, and then immediately called furries to board. Hordes of fluffy animals entered the tube in a glowing purple hue.
The doors close, and we are subjected to the most unique of safety demonstrations before we lift up into the air.
The flight itself went like any other flight. Several socialized with each other, or watched movies on the screen. Many of the furries found out about the in-flight Free messaging service which permitted telegram, allowing for more socialization.
Some passengers walked around in fursuit, and some of the flight attendants even wore the exclusive FurFlyer badges. As the flight went on the and sun set behind us the closer we got to the windy city, the cabin began to look and feel more like a night club.
Upon landing, the flight attendants made a tongue in cheek spiel along the lines of “if you’re wearing an animal costume, you may have to remove your mask upon entering the terminal”. This was taken seriously and it was urged that all costumed fuzzies unmask themselves upon exiting the jetbridge (some of us motioning to “raise the roof” as shorthand, to the amusement of waiting passengers).
Overall, save for a few bumps in the boarding sequence (furries having issues finding a seat), technical difficulties with some remotes, and the plane running out of both food and alcoholic beverages, the outbound flight went as smooth as can be. The crew at SFO essentially asked us when we’ll be doing this again next year, and the in-flight team were enthusiastic for the return.
Response from the passengers? Overall positive.
Compared to Thursday’s trip out, the return on Monday was more subdued. No official sanctioned suiting in O’Hare let alone the gate area occurred due to a lack of official response let alone escorts. Later flights were delayed due to an oncoming storm, so we had additional furries join in our flight thanks to rebooking. Thankfully, ours made it to the gate and off the ground on time, only with one slight problem:
The in-flight entertainment didn’t work.
None of the screens booted properly and we were subjected to a loop of Panasonic boot sequences that resembled a black goo creature transforming into various animals before showing a default splash screen, frozen. Thankfully, we had a fur who worked on these systems onboard. Apparently a memory issue overloaded the servers and the system couldn’t boot properly.
Unfortunately, this couldn’t be fixed until the plane was done with its service for the day.
While one may think having no entertainment is okay when you can bring your own nowadays, the entire functionality of the flight depends on the system working: food and drinks couldn’t be ordered (though, one could’ve walked to the back of the plane to grab a snack or cocktail free of charge), and due to a lack of streaming options, the WiFi became overloaded and sluggish with furries themselves trying to stay entertained, making a 5-hour flight more grueling than expected.
Some of us made the most of it, and when we landed a couple more photo ops were taken before calling it done.
Hurdles and all, we made it back safe and sound, and otherwise satisfactory.
Despite the issues on the return, overall flight feedback was positive. We did what was considered insane and a logistical nightmare, and it worked. Furries can enjoy an extended con-like experience on the journey itself.
This opens the door to many other opportunities for the future! So here’s to many more adventures to come!