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Virgin America boosts US ‘coast to coast’ service: NY to LAX/SF

By David Flynn     Filed under: Virgin America, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Newark

Virgin America has added a second New York airport to its transcontinental US service, increasing their appeal to Virgin Australia travellers looking to make the jump from Los Angeles to New York.

On top of the current coast-to-coast shuttle from LAX and San Francisco to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, Virgin America now runs an additional three daily flights into Newark Liberty International Airport, NYC's second-largest airport.

Read: Which airport is best in New York City, and how do you get there?

Virgin’s launch of transcon flights sees it go up against United Airlines, which recently upgraded its own coast-to-coast ‘PS’ (Premium Service) flights with lie-flat beds in business class while also introducing economy seats for the first time onto the previously premium-only flights.

(Ironically, as Virgin America geared up for this David vs Goliath battle, a breakdown of consumer complaints filed with the US Department of Transportation in 2012 revealed that Virgin was regarded as offering America’s best service and United the worst.)

"Our new nonstop service from Newark to the West Coast is bringing some healthy competition to travelers” observed Virgin America CEO David Cush, his remarks echoing the Virgin Australia vs Qantas stoush being played out here.

“Before we entered the market, these routes previously had some of the highest fares in the nation. Since we entered the market, fares have dropped by nearly 40 percent (and) last-minute walk-up fares have dropped by about 30 percent.”

Virgin’s LAX-EWR and SFO-EWR flights all include the Main Cabin Select rows with their extra legroom over economy, free meals and drinks and dedicated overhead bins. 

Read: AusBT flight review – Virgin America Main Cabin Select

Each flight also offers Gogo’s inflight Internet service and there are AC sockets at every seat so your laptop can remain juiced up during the six hour flight.

The cost of staying connected from coast to coast is US$14, but if you've got a few trips on your itinerary you can buy a US$40 monthly pass that's valid across all Gogo-equipped airlines (Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, US Airways and Virgin America).

Read: AusBT goes sky-high surfing with Virgin America's inflight Internet

What Virgin Australia Velocity members get...

While Virgin Australia currently doesn't codeshare with Virgin America on these cross-country routes, you'll still earn Velocity frequent flyer points on them.

Velocity Platinum and Gold status qualifies you for priority check-in, priority screening and priority boarding on all Virgin America-operated flights.

Lower-status Silvers don't get priority screening so they'll have to mix it with the masses, but they can still skip some queues with priority check-in and priority boarding.

And what US business travellers want...

Virgin America has also released the results of a survey among members of its Elevate frequent flyers scheme.

When asked about their “most wanted” airline amenity when traveling for business, 40% said put nonstop flights (rather than hopping via an airline’s hub) atop their list, while 24% nominated in-flight Internet.

A third of travellers reported using Virgin America’s inflight Internet on every flight, while one in five hooked up every two or three flights.

Delays were predictably rated as the most frustrating aspect of business travel, cited by one in three respondents, followed by “not enough legroom or seat space” (16%).

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About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

 

Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 12/4/13 by cssaus

I disagree with your opening paragraph says "Virgin America has added a second New York airport to its transcontinental US service, increasing their appeal to Virgin Australia travellers looking to make the jump from Los Angeles to New York."

According to the Virgin Australia website, when looking for connections to NYC in September the only carrier that it codeshares with to NYC is Delta and that's to JFK. If I want to connect to EWR it would mean I'd have to purchase a separate ticket to the SYD-LAX one on VA.

Unless VA plans to announce codeshare on VX to EWR  (and for that matter JFK), I fail to see where the appeal to VA travellers is enhanced.

1 on 12/4/13 by David

Hi cssaus: VA doesn't codeshare on this route as yet (something I should have mentioned up front, in case people wrongly assume they do codeshare, so I'll add that in now).

However, the new VX routes appeals to me a useful option for somebody in Los Angeles or San Francisco (you've stopped over there for meetings or downtime) who thens want to fly to New York (for more meetings or more downtime) – because you now have more VX flights to choose from, and some travellers may prefer to fly into Newark (eg it's closer to NYC and also has a more direct train connection than JFK).

I know a few VA travellers who've already done this on Virgin America's LAX-JFK or SFO-JFK services, rather than choosing Delta (for various reasons).

I'm not saying this VX route is the best option, especially if you're doing SYD-LAX and then want a codeshare through to New York – but as I wrote, I believe these new routes will increase the appeal of Virgin America's coast-to-coast services for Virgin Australia flyers.

2 on 12/4/13 by alanzeino

In many cases before VA started using Delta instead of VX, buying a separate ticket with VX was cheaper than the codeshare flight provided by booking both sectors with VA.

After one of those Delta codeshare flights between LAX and SFO I refuse to travel with Delta's abysmal US services. VX appeals to VA travellers flying to NY greatly.

2 on 12/4/13 by StuParr

This is much better for VA f flyers. I just wish that their connections from LAX/SFO to Boston were a bit better. As it stands I have to stay a night in LA or SF and then fly the next morning to be able to fly VX otherwise it is UA all the way........... 

1 on 12/4/13 by cssaus

Last August when I travelled from SYD-JFK via LAX on a VA booking, the VA web site only offered a VA code share flight from LAX to JFK on DL but for the return what was offered was a VX flight (not code shared).

The advantage of flying into LAX on VX to connect to VA was that tit arrived in T3 at LAX meaning that I didn't need to change terminals.

Looking to travel to JFK in September, the VA website now no longer offers the option of booking a VX operated flight (either code share or non-code share) as a connection from NYC meaning that you have to use a DL operated flight and undertake a change in terminal to connect to the VA flight to Sydney.

1 on 12/4/13 by StuParr

I'd book the separately. If you book in Y+ or J class you are going to be hit with a higher fare class for the internal VX flights. It is cheaper to book the VX fare on the website and then have VX link up the flights. If you use an agent he or she can do that and still issue it on VA paper, hence if you have any connection issues VA has to worry about it being the ticket issuer hope that helps.

 

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