Volaris Lands in Los Angeles, First Destination North of the Border

Volaris brought its first flight into LAX yesterday, and I headed out to the airport for the airline’s press conference celebrating the event. I must admit that I liked a lot of what I heard about Volaris, but these are some incredibly uncertain times for the airline right now.

Volaris is now flying a single daily trip from LAX to Toluca (outside Mexico City) and another one to Volaris Team in Front of AirplaneGuadalajara. They’ll be starting flights to those cities from Oakland as well, and at the press conference yesterday, Volaris Managing Director and CEO Enrique Beltranena (bottom left in the picture, though I’ll certainly understand if you’re distracted by those flight attendants) announced that they had just received approval to fly from Oakland to Tijuana as well. He also said that he expects Volaris to be flying to more than 10 cities in the US in the next two and a half years. So this is no small plan.

How the heck are they planning on being the first successful low cost carrier flying between the US and Mexico? A huge part of the plan is the Southwest codeshare that was announced earlier. In fact, it’s such a large part of the plan that Kyle O’Neil, Southwest’s Director of Alliances (the tall, white dude in the middle of the picture) was there at the podium Volaris LAX Decaltoday for the event.

Of course, the question on my mind was whether or not the codeshare was still proceeding as planned, especially considering that the WestJet deal had been delayed. So, I asked them to elaborate on details. Kyle said that Southwest was still planning to launch the codeshare in 2010, but he couldn’t announce a date. Original plans were for the codeshare to go on sale in early 2010, so this looks like there might be a little slippage in my mind. But Kyle reiterated that they were very committed to the partnership, something that was evident by his mere presence at the event.

For Volaris, I imagine the codeshare can’t start soon enough. They are coming off a disastrous traffic plunge in Mexico following the swine flu outbreak that began in April. Enrique admitted that Volaris has been suffering, but he said that he believes Volaris was the only airline in Mexico to be breakeven over the last six months. (Warning: He answered that question in Spanish, so I’m trusting that my Spanish skills haven’t failed me.)

In the end, Enrique presented a very nice plaque (at left) to LAX commemorating the start of their service. He said that they’ve presented this to each city they fly as a symbol that they intend to be Volaris Plaque Presentationthere for a long time. I like the symbolism.

So Volaris is pushing ahead, and LAX is a huge part of their commitment to making flying in the US work. They will be flying out of Terminal 2 here at LAX (convenient since Northwest flights all moved to Delta’s terminal yesterday), and while it’s not going to provide connections behind security to Southwest, it will at least be right next door.

What might you expect to see onboard? If you’re looking for legroom, you won’t find much. I’m told their A319s are equipped with 144 seats while the A320s have 172. For comparison, JetBlue’s spacious configuration has only 150 seats on an A320, but I think Volaris’ configuration makes sense for the airline. They do have leather seats and overhead TV screens, so the product is still quite nice. (You can see a photo of the inside of their aircraft on airliners.net.)

Perhaps the most interesting thing offered by Volaris is unique in this industry. As Enrique said (to many laughs), “We guarantee on-time performance or your money back so I hope your airport delivers.” That’s right. If your flight is late by more than 30 minutes, you get your money back, regardless of the reason for the delay. As a marketing campaign, I love this idea. It will certainly stand out and it’s a huge differentiator. On the other hand, remember why Domino’s dropped their 30 minute guarantee? They had drivers getting in accidents because they were rushing to beat the deadline. I really hope we don’t see any pressure on pilots to beat the deadline here. That makes me a little nervous.

Overall, it was a good event at LAX. Enrique seems like a very smart man, and he’s already built an airline that not only has to be the frontrunner of the low cost carriers in Mexico, but is also a great place to work. In fact, the biggest smile I saw from him all day was the one he let out when he was introduced as leading an airline that has been recognized as one of the top places to work in Mexico.

Would I try them if I were heading down to Mexico? Absolutely. And the low fares that they’re trying to bring into the market should help them stimulate additional traffic, assuming the burdensome taxes don’t overwhelm their efforts. I tend to think this can work, but this is not exactly the ideal time to be trying it. Still, they pushing ahead at full speed.

So what’s next for Volaris? Well, there was some pressure from LA officials for the airline to start service to Ontario as well (which is operated by the same folks that run LAX), but Enrique responded that “there is nothing more we would like to do than start service to Ontario. So if we are able to, and you are able to reduce the cost of the airport . . . .” Ah, smart man. Keep an eye on these guys, and if you have the chance to fly them, let me know your impressions.


51 Responses to Volaris Lands in Los Angeles, First Destination North of the Border

  1. David SFeastbay says:

    Airlines come and go and they could be the next Aero California. At least Aero California flew from LAX to places the other carriers didn’t so there was more of a variety of destinations to explore. There are a lot of flights between California and Mexico so they will need to stand out to be noticed among the big U.S. and Mexican carriers.

    Even before the swine flu scare the Oakland service had be delayed and I haven’t read anything lately that I can recall about when it would start. Oakland to TJ makes more sense then years ago when their used to be service between LAX and TJ, you could drive there faster and cheaper so I could never understand that service.

  2. Trent880 says:

    If they can make money on $99 each way they’ll do fine in CaliforniaMexico. Not sure how much the codeshare will help since currently their US flying is utilization flying that connects to nothing unless you’re willing to overnight in LAX/OAK in one direction.

  3. CF says:

    David SF – Well they certainly offer a nicer and newer product than AeroCalifornia, but I can’t imagine Southwest would deal with anyone who didn’t have some staying power. There is a natural constraint on competition in Mexico thanks to the bilateral agreement, so flying to some of these cities is not a bad idea, even if others fly them.

    Oakland starts this month. Not sure when the Tijuana flight would begin, but if you look on the Volaris website, that flight can provide huge connecting opportunities all over Mexico.

    Trent880 – Not true. Flights from Toluca land at LAX at 130p and depart again at 205p. That will work with plenty of connections to Southwest. And looking on their website, they are showing 2 daily to Guadalajara, one of which connects very well.

  4. Jorge Blanco says:

    It seems like they are using the on-time guarantees thing to drive home the point that they are the most on-time airline in the world. They’ve been doing the on-time guarantee thing for over a year in Mexico with no speeding tickets! I recently had a chance to talk to their COO and it seems that they are running a world class operation. He claimed that their fleet age is 2.5 years which does not really compare to ex-Aerocalifornia’s 30ish years.

    But it’ll be interesting to see them compete in the intl. markets. It is certainly a rough time out there. I’ll give them a try, I just purchsed a LAX-GDL

  5. CF says:

    Jorge – It looks like your comment came from an IP address inside Volaris itself. I never mind comments from from employees and am happy to have more info about the company, but misleading comments from someone pretending to be a passenger are not welcome. Next time, identify yourself.

  6. David SFeastbay says:

    Oh yeah service to/from OAK and GDL/TLC start this Friday. Night flights out of Oakland so they will have two aircraft on the ground which would get people to notice them. Daily service on both flights, so that’s good.

    I noticed on their website route map that they show a lot of service out of TIJ to the rest of Mexico. A OAK-TIJ flight would give a lot of connections I would think. Now I wonder how much advertising they do in San Diego since the border is what 20 miles away and it would be nothing for people to cross into TIJ (like hundreds do everyday) to take advantage of all those TIJ flights.

  7. Jorge Blanco says:

    Yes, I am an intern at Volaris, and yes I recently had a chance to talk to top management about guarantees, US-expansion and their operations.

    I will make that clearer next time. Thanks CF.

  8. Trent880 says:

    Touché. I thought all their US flights mirrored the one GDLLAX roundtrip I saw around the time of their application. That makes more sense.

  9. David M says:

    Volaris offers shuttle bus service to the San Ysidro border crossing ($160 MXN) as well as downtown San Diego ($200 MXN) from TIJ. I can’t comment on how much advertising they do north of the border.

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  11. Dan says:

    CF,

    With regard to the on-time guarantee, is that an on-time departure or on-time arrival? If it’s the later, expect some huge block-times.

  12. CF says:

    David SF – Yeah, they have a ton of destinations from TIJ – that could make for a very interesting connect point from CA/OR/WA/NV/AZ depending upon the destination.

    Jorge – Sounds good. Now that we know that you work there, feel free to add any additional information that’s helpful.

    David M – I know they have a similar service from Mexico City to Toluca as well. That’s a very “Ryanair” type of strategy where they bus you to the nearest big city. It’s worked for them, but crossing the US border is tough. And Mexican border towns have seen a large increase in violence lately which would make me wary about leaving the airport. As a connect point, I’d do it, but that’s about it.

    Dan – It is on-time arrival, so there is the ability to pad to avoid paying out. I looked at LAX to Guadalajara to see if they were padding more than others.

    They block southbound flights at 3:10. That’s the exact same as Aeromexico and Delta and 5 minutes less than Mexicana and Alaska. (On an separate note – wow – there is a lot of service in that market.)

    Northbound ones are blocked at 3:15. That’s the same as Aeromexico, Alaska, and Mexicana. Delta blocks at 3:18.

  13. David SFeastbay says:

    I was just reading their website and the on-time arrival guarantee depends on what type fare you purchase. The lowest fare you get 50 percent, the next step up fare 75 percent, and the highest fare 100 percent. If you purchased the lowest outbound and higher fare on the return, it will show you the rule for each direction that applies.

    Lowest fare purchased example:
    Volaris Guarantee: If the flight does not arrive at the scheduled time (30 minute window) or if your documented baggage does not arrive on the same flight, you will receive credit for 50% of the total fare paid (including taxes).
    Excludes excess or stand by baggage.

  14. David SFeastbay says:

    They moved fast on the Oakland-Tijuana okay, service starts on August 28.

  15. Lupita says:

    Is volaris hiring at lax? ive tried to apply online but it only says flight attendants and pilots? is there a number i can call or an office or a website so i can apply

  16. CF says:

    Lupita – I would assume they’re doing some sort of hiring, but I don’t know for sure. Check volaris.com.mx.

  17. Erik says:

    I flew Volaris from Tijuana – Cancun in December last year and was impressed with not only the price ($250 less than carriers serving my local San Diego airport) but also the service and condition of their new planes. The seating did not seem tighter than anything that any US-based carrier offers (except JetBlue), perhaps because they forgo the seatback pocket and replace it with a cutout for knees. The emergency instructions, rather than being on a card, are printed on the back of the seat, meaning that people are compelled to actually read them.

    No real meals were offered, but the snacks were fine and the drinks were continuous and free.

    The 30 minute guarantee is less taxes and fees and is in the form of a credit that has to be used in a limited timeframe (within 90 days, I think), but it’s an excellent idea which I dare any domestic carrier to match (as well as the concept of a clean plane, free drinks, cheerful cabin crew, etc.).

    Good luck to you, Volaris, on your international venture.

  18. Jas says:

    Just wanted to add a comment that I believe no one is mentioning at this time. If you have traveled to and from Mexico, I am pretty sure that you would have noticed how the Mexicana had provided such poor service as if they owned the world. When ever you bring the issue to them, you would never realyy get any resolution or response back. They used to blow the customers away. This is because they had the direct lines from the USA mostly reserved for them with the help of the Mexican Govt.
    I am so glad that this type of a recommendable airline will be the competition and maybe this is the reason you are starting to see Mexicans starting to reach out to the Customers on the WEB sites recently.
    I wish the best for Volaris and any other airline/s to come in competition with Mexican.

  19. Jas says:

    Sorry about the typos : “Mexicans starting to…”. “Meant Mexicana starting to…”

  20. Ryan says:

    I flew Mexico/Toluca to Cancun and back in the past two weeks–it was my first time with their service. Volaris was incredibly efficient, professional, and service-orientated; I didn’t feel as thought I were on a low-cost airline, even though I was saving hundreds over its competitors. Moreover, with witty advertising, cheap shuttles to the airport, and the fastest I’ve ever seen a plane be filled with passengers (and both flights were full), I am a fan. In fact, the landings at the airports were incredibly smooth as well, and the planes felt “right” in the air. The flight attendants were friendly, and the snacks and drinks just right for a 2 hour flight.

  21. DGreen says:

    Volaris CAN be a very good option for traveling on a budget, but there are a few “gotchas” that can come up. For example, if you plan on Fishing in Mexico, consider your alternatives (see my website for details).

    I’ve flown Volaris since inception from Tijuana to Los Cabos on a frequent basis. In the years that I have been traveling with them, I’ve seen the customer service deteriorate slowly. I still fly Volaris, but having the knowledge of when/when NOT to use this discount airline is critical. I invite you to look at my webpage http://www.volaris.us for more information. Admittedly, this is a biased website but the material contained within it is Factual and probably helpful if you’re planning on flying Volaris.

  22. Dan says:

    Just to be certain as I am flying Volaris from GDL to LAX on Wednesday, Volaris flys INTO Terminal 2 at LAX?

    Do they depart from the same terminal?

    Thanks.

  23. CF says:

    Dan wrote:

    Just to be certain as I am flying Volaris from GDL to LAX on Wednesday, Volaris flys INTO Terminal 2 at LAX?
    Do they depart from the same terminal?

    Yep, departures and arrivals are in Terminal 2. Report back on your trip when you return!

  24. @ Jorge Blanco:

    Buenos dias Jorge,

    Podrias comentar si Volari, estara agragando Embraer 190 a la flota?

    Saludos,

  25. Dan says:

    Very pleased with my recent round trip on Volaris from GDL to LAX. True, the check in at GDL could have been handled better but getting on the plane was very smooth and vastly preferable to Cattle Car Southwest. No problem in reserving my seat in advance.

    Cabin crew was pleasant and efficient, girls were pretty for a change, and even free beer and Tequila, how about that? Very nice leather seats, very new planes (Airbus).

    In short, a real bargain. Booked a return trip late November for less than $200 U.S.

  26. Marisa says:

    They have very bad customer service. They do not honor their promotions.and they do not honor their on time guarantee. You get what you pay. They Change the flights with ridiculus arguments like weather conditions so that way they can waive their on time guarantee.

  27. Maria says:

    I have flown with Volaris on several occasions. Some from TIJ to BJX and others from TIJ to TLC. I have been very surprise by their customer service. Very efficient and they have kept their on time guarantee. I have yet to try their flights from LAX but I wouldn’t expect any less. Call me a geek but I do like the fact that the instructions for survival in an emergency are printed on the seat rather than on a piece of paper that nobody reads… I wish Volaris the best and any other airline that can provide good service for less money and makes you feel welcome for a couple of hours…

  28. Alejandro says:

    I am a frequent flyer to Mexico that usually flies out of TIJ to GDL,BJX & Mexico city from many different airlines. The only other airline that was able to compete with Volaris prices was Avolar which is now out of business. I flew out of TIJ because prices from LAX where to high from any other airline and in order to fly to Mexico as often as I do need to look for bargains. I can say that even though Avolars prices did match Volaris the interior of the place was nicer and services was better. I was surprise that even at a low prices the airline does have good customer service and the inside of the plane is alot better than other airlines. I am currently planing on flying from LAX to GDL and comming back from MOR to LAX the price is $200 dollars round trip which I think is great. It would also be great if they did start flying off Ontario since I live down the street from their and the airport is not as crowded. I believe their is only one airline that flies out of their but if the prices stay the same $200 round trip will start flying from their. As for the guarantee of the ontime I dont really mind spending a little extra time as long as I get to my destination and prices stay low. I guess i will write again after I take my trip just to let people know what I think.

  29. Alejandro says:

    I guess it be nice if people could fill out a fast survey on here for other people that would like to know what people think about the airline compared to other airlines.

  30. ADILENE RUIZ ROJAS says:

    HEY MY NMAE IS ADILENE I WANT TO NO HOW CANT I WORK OR AP IN VOLARIS IM 19 YEAR OLD IM GOING TO SCHOOL AR ORANGR COST COLGE FOR FLIGHT ATTEDENT.PLESS CALL ME AT 714 640-14-07

  31. Paul says:

    I’ve flown Volaris 3 times in the past month. My employees have flown it about 15 trips also. I really like this airline. They are very attentive and the planes are very clean! Many of my trips are last minute, so I don’t know anything about $99 one way. I am sitting at GDL now and just paid $495 on way USD. I guess this says it all: Mexican was $280 one way and I paid the extra $200 dollars. Also, they have earlier flights back to LA which I like.

    oh yea, the beautiful flight attendants are an extra bonus. Not meant to offend any ladies reading. Just tired of the old gradmas on United etc.

    By the way, I have a tequila distillery and that is why I fly so much. Not related to Volaris at all.

    Hope this helps
    Paul

  32. martha says:

    volaris is great my family and i flew from tj to gdl in june -09 it was good didnt have a proble with anything.i’ll be flying with them on feb-10 i was purchesing tickets on line other air lines were up the roof.volaris was amazing i would fly anytime for $200.00 round trip to gdl.i wish volaris the best and hope they keep their amazing prices

  33. Jas says:

    I have made our ticket purchase in Sept 2009 for the Volaris flight Lax to GDL on Dec 20th with the WANT IT ALL class WHICH INCLUDED THE LOCAL SHUTTLE at the destination airport.
    When checking in at the LAX airport, we also double checked by asking about the shuttle and how to get it, the counter check in personel stated that all we had to do was to go to the Volaris Counter and we will be provided with the shuttle service.
    We arrived at Gdl at 8:40 pm and after customes clearance we went to the Volaris counter for the shuttle. There were Joel (stated to be Supervisor) and 3 other personel there and guess what. We were told in a very RUDE manner, I mean a very rude attitude and in a smerking confrontational manner!
    “shuttle is not provided at GDL”. then he even did not let me speak until I got upset and then my wife had to speak out loudly and told him to listen, “he is speaking…”
    After a real good flight and service on board, thinking that now we have a alternative direct airlinechoice to travel to Mexico instead of the Mexicana, we returned to the LAX on Mexicana.
    Yes this is a new service airline to Mexico with great service at LAX and on board but if the service attitude of the personels at the GDL / Mexican airport personel are not willing to change to service the customers as customers, I do not see any difference in the service. I can only believe that their service will not be any different or better than other airlines once they gain the customer basis.

  34. Jose says:

    I don’t see anywhere in the aticle that states who the owners of the company are. Just to stop your worries on if they will last or not, well I’m sure Mr. Carlos Slim a billionaire, Televisas owner a very wealthy man also and the Salvadoran airline who on Volaris will make sure they stay afloat. Knowing this I’m sure Southwest is more than confident in the partnership. Worse case they can sell out to Volaris. I just wish they’d fly into Fresno and/or Castle Airforce base whom has a brand new terminal and the fifth largest terminal in the western U.S.

  35. B.J. says:

    My favorite reason for flying on Volaris from Tijuana to many locations in Mexico is NOT HAVING TO DEAL WITH TSA!!
    That goes for the return flight also.

  36. Alejandra says:

    Does anyone have information about their Corporate Headquarters … any contact information?

    All I see is one phone number on their webpage and the phone number leads to a call center that is not very helpful….

    Thanks for your help.

  37. B.J. says:

    What I enjoyed best about flying from Tijuana was the RESPECT that passengers are given by SECURITY when compared to LAX and tsa.

  38. alexa says:

    i have a flight from lax to gdl in may. i am very scared of flying, so i wanna know if this is a good safe and smooth airline? is there movies they play to keep me distracted? is the service good? please let me know.

  39. Malcolm says:

    My daughter flew with Volaris nonstop LAX to Guadalajara two days ago to visit friends. Her suitcase did not arrive!! She and her friends have had no luck with Volaris locating the suitcase two days later! A major hassle since she had fancy clothes, shoes, gifts to go to a wedding. I have tried and tried to call Volaris at LAX but have had no luck finding a number. The Volaris reservation number is of no help whatsoever. Does anybody no anything about how to contact Volaris customer service or Volaris LAX ?????

    • CF says:

      Sorry to hear about that. We can try to help via CrankyConcierge.com if you’re interested. Otherwise, I would just keep calling the reservation number, unfortunately.

  40. Malcolm says:

    Thanks CF. I guess I’m echoing the concern that Alejandra wrote about on March 26. Volaris’ one and only phone number is absolutely useless beyond booking a flight. This is definitely a problem!! Who would ever fly with an airline if they knew there was no customer service or support? I’ll keep you posted about my daughter’s lost luggage. I HOPE I can report back that after some frustration, everything worked out okay.

  41. juan says:

    Its a very inexepensive airline, we take that airline twice a year to guadalajara and have had no problems with service or ontime, i have used the customer service phone number but also with no problems at all.

  42. J Money says:

    Incredible experience! Would recommend to anyone. Nice clean planes, friendly service, cheap tickets, on time! Free food and liquor.

  43. Malcolm says:

    I wrote about my daughter’s lost suitcase in June. It was VERY difficult to figure out who to speak to about it (customer service.) Finally, frustrated, I drove to LAX and found the actual person who handled the bags. He told me he would take over the case from GDL Volaris agent who was not doing anything. Weeks went by, and finally Volaris offered a monetary settlement which was not even close to the valuable clothes my daughter had in her suitcase, but I was so tired of calling LAX, GDL, DF, and filing paperwork… that I agreed to the settlement. THEN, they found the suitcase!!! They found it IN GDL airport FIVE WEEKS LATER ! It was delivered to our house and nothing was missing. AFter Five Weeks of fighting with Volaris, the bag appeared. It was a nonstop flight from LA to GDL, so I don’t know how the bag could disappear for five weeks. In the end, they gave us a $200 dollar voucher for our troubles. Who knows if we will use it?! Anyway, it could happen with any airline I guess, but… that’s our Volaris story.

  44. martha says:

    HORRIBLE SERVICE!

    I (thought I) bought a couple airline tickets three weeks ago online. It all went through the system smoothly and there was nothing to indicate anything was wrong. I even printed out the “confirmation” page which stated the reservation number, the itinerary, and a line saying “amount paid by credit card….$398.30 USD.” A few minutes later, I received a call from my credit card asking if I authorized payment which I did. So I happily waited for my flight.

    Yesterday, when I arrived at the airport, the employee said I had no tickets because my credit card had been denied. I called the credit card company and they told me they authorized payment but that the Volaris system had not charged it. AT NO TIME DID VOLARIS NOTIFY ME THAT ANYTHING WAS WRONG NOR WAS THERE ANY INDICATION ON THEIR SITE THAT I HAD NOT BOUGHT THE TICKETS.

    They refuse to honor the original fare and I spent hours on the phone but got nowhere except, “we’ll be sure to check this to better our service.”

  45. Guadalupe Orozco says:

    I can’t beleive Volaris’s customer service (it is terrible) I’m trying to communicate with them since the last 5 days and no luck. Phone rings and rings and rings. Sometimes I get a recorded and then they hang up. Does anybody knows what phone # I can reach them. I tried 1-866-988-3527 and no luck.

  46. Frances says:

    As of now, I am totally convinced that I’m not flying with Volaris and will encourage friends and relatives to do the same. I am so beyond emotions because I can’t seem to get any help from this airline customer service. I just got back from our flight last night and feel exhausted from all the mishaps we endured with Volaris. First of all, we purchased the I want it all package since it offers getting back 100% credit guarantee if your flight is delayed and/or your baggage fails to be there when you get to your destination. Well, both things happened to us and can’t get anywhere or any info as to whether I can get this credit back. I just called Volaris and have to do another follow up call because they have nothing right now as far as my baggage unclaimed and flight delay. Not only that, but since the flight came late and we were close to missing our connecting flight from Guadalajara to LAX last night we forgot our camera (cost over $400) with over 500 pictures of beautiful Cancun. We took tons of pictures of our children and the landscapes– we have no pictures to show of this beautiful vacation trip. By the time we got into our connecting flight within 10 minutes of exiting the previous Volaris flight we asked the Volaris representative to radio the airplane to see if they could find the camera, said the camera wasn’t there. Yeah right!!! I can’t believe this horrific nightmare!!! I can’t even get Volaris customer service to give me Guadalajara’s Lost and Found, so I can call and ask if my camera was found. So Volaris what happened to your promise of giving back credit if your flight causes us to arrive late to our destination and or our baggage does not arrive we us? Maybe someone can give me advice on how about to go with this issue.

  47. Charles says:

    And what do you think of Interjet ?

  48. margarito says:

    i would like to get information how to get airline tickets from lax to saltillo coahuila, or monterey mexico.

  49. Pingback: Aitutaki & LAX’s New Service | Johnny Jet

  50. jannely says:

    HORRIBLE !!!!!!!! THIS IS THE WORST AIRLINE I EVER BEEN. THEY ADVERTISE SPECIAL OFFERS BUT CHARGE EVERYTHING ON THE LUGGAGE GIVEN YOU ALL KIND OF EXCUSES. THEY ARE HORRIBLE I WOULD NEVER RECOMEND IT

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