There seems to be little doubt that when Virgin America starts flying today between JFK and California, it will have the coolest, hippest jets in the sky.
But will those flights be a good deal?
That remains to be seen. The introductory pricing looks good – coming out to about $300 round trip to Los Angeles or San Francisco – but those fares won’t last. And several of Virgin America’s competitors are matching the fares for the time being.
Certainly, $300 is not low enough to lure me into flying out of New York. For just $50 more, I can make the round trip from Bradley.
Anyway, it seems likely that Virgin America will remain competitive on price, but not so much that it will be able to stay below the more entrenched airlines.
And what about other factors?
Entertainment. Virgin America is way ahead here, with on-demand seat-back TV, movies, audio and games – some free, some at an extra cost. There’s even seat-to-seat text messaging.
Food. No free food, but passengers can order meals electronically from their seats or visit an on-board mini-bar, whenever they like.
Seats. The 32-inch seat pitch on Virgin America’s Airbus 320 is fairly standard for the industry, but JetBlue has more leg room at 34 inches. Keep in mind – Virgin America charges an extra $25 for roomier exit-row seats.
Frequent flier program. Virgin America credits passengers not for how many miles they fly, but how much they spend on the ticket. An interesting twist that makes sense for the airline, but not necessarily for budget-conscious travelers.