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.

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

  1. A says:

    Surcharges not hip?!? Of course they are, now United is going to charge $15 per 1st checked bag. Come fly the A la carte skies.

  2. Dan Webb says:

    Brett, is Virgin still having the poor loads that you blogged about earlier?

  3. Chris S says:

    I noticed in your bio that you have jumped around to numerous airlines, and now all you do is this blog. After reading this article I can understand why you can’t hold a job in the airline industry. You are clueless!!

  4. CF says:

    Dan – That’s a great question. Virgin America hasn’t put out any traffic releases, so recent information is sparse. I haven’t gone in to look at the status of their petition to the DOT to withhold information, so I should probably go check it out, but the info is still only up to the end of 2007. I’ll see if I can pull that up later on.

    Chris – I love these vague and random references to me not knowing anything. So what do you do for Virgin America? If you disagree with something, please post it here. I’m all for good discussion.

  5. eponymous coward says:

    You know, I’m actually a fan of VX who’s enjoyed flying them out of SEA, and I’ve even sampled the F (by paying for it at online checkin), but astroturfing a blog post critical of Virgin America when you’re an employee just makes you look bad as a company, and it’s not the first time a VX employee has done this.

    One thing I’ve learned in business is not everyone’s going to love you (99.9% satisfation STILL means one person out of a thousand is upset at you), no matter how hard you try, and you’re better off trying to do a better job than getting upset at the people who don’t.

    If Cranky’s wrong in his questioning of VX’s business plan (and he has the chops to do it, if you look at the resume), you folks at VX will have the last laugh when you have a successful airline years down the road- and living well is always the best revenge, isn’t it?

  6. CF says:

    Dan – Ok, I checked and still no data from VX this year. All the other carriers are up through March 2008, but VX is still fighting the DOT on having to actually release the info. I imagine that they won’t have to file until the DOT rules against them, at which point they will have successfully deferred their data release a long time anyway. Booo.

    eponymous coward – Just to be clear, unlike previous times where employees wrote from the Virgin America IP address, this time I’m just guessing. Usually people who throw slurs out instead of actually trying to argue facts have an emotional interest in the outcome, and that usually means they work for the company.

    To your other points, yes, please let VX show me up and prove me wrong in the end. As I wrote in my trip report from April, I LIKE flying VX. I’d fly them again by choice, but I still don’t think their plan makes sense. So, PLEASE make me look dumb!

  7. Pingback: Chit-chat with Virgin America CEO David Cush about schedule changes - Travel - LATimes.com

  8. Interesting article.
    First trucking companies, now airlines.
    It won’t be long before cruise lines are doing it…
    if that hasn’t already happened.

    Fuel prices change so dramatically and quickly
    you can see why they are being added. (Not that
    any of us are happy about it.)

    Everyone is trying to appear “competitively” priced,
    that’s why they aren’t raising prices. But I agree it
    sure is a negative, thinking that you have a good price and then WHAM! getting hit on the back end.

    Unfortunately. I believe this is only the beginning.

    Here is something to think about Frank

  9. Leo Meunier says:

    Wife had flight Boston to LAX + back. She was out because her dad died from cancer. Her doctor called and said to come back right away. She had cancer and test and treatment needed to start. Virgin America charged her $400+ to change a $200+ flight. Didn’t want to hear any reason. I paid it off. Next month Visa $100 more. My wife was feeling bad and asked for an aisle
    seat. Without telling her the charged $100 FOR THE UPGRADE. Never will I deal with this airline again.

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