Virgin America Adds JFK-Vegas and Fuel Surcharges . . . Huh?

Virgin America has been pretty quiet lately. I mean, except for the Superfly Wednesday gimmick, not much has happened except for some frequency increases. Yesterday, however, the airline revealed its twin doses of dumbness, as I like to call them.08_02_20 vxmexicodartsFirst, the airline will start flying from New York/JFK to Las Vegas. And second, the airline is adding a fuel surcharge.

Let’s start with the Vegas flight that begins on my birthday, September 4. Westbound flights will operate every day but Wednesday and Thursday while eastbound flights won’t operate on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Here’s the schedule:

VX251 Lv JFK 905a Arr Vegas 1145a
VX206 Lv Vegas 215p Arr JFK 1025p

As you can see, this is no utilization flight. This takes a full aircraft day, so it’s targeting the business traveler. While the times may be ok for that purpose, taking two days off in the middle of the week is certainly not going to help them very much. As a business traveler, I’d rather fly one of the THREE other airlines (Delta, US Airways, JetBlue) that fly in the market multiple times daily so that I could at least have more options. And don’t forget, American also flies this once daily. Don’t even get me started on Newark. Yes, it’s a crowded market.

And since this is JFK, they only have a certain number of slots. Yep, that means something had to be cut elsewhere. One of the five daily SFO flights, the one that operates at the same time as this, will disappear that day (it currently shows “sold out” on the Virgin America site). So, they’re cutting frequency in that market and shifting it five days a week to Vegas? What about those other two days? Strange.

Now how about those fuel surcharges? In most markets, Virgin America has been the most aggressive pricer out there with sale after sale and low structure fares as well. So, how is it that they feel the need to add a surcharge? Why not just raise fares? It doesn’t really make sense to me, especially for an airline like Virgin America. Having a fuel surcharge isn’t hip. Raising fares, however, now that’s what the cool kids are doing.

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