Virgin America Helping Pop Transcontinental Air Fare Prices

As we read in their e-newsletter this morning, a top airline analyst told Farecompare.com, “because of the debut of Virgin America, watch for many airlines to lower the air fares on their transcontinental flights for the foreseeable future.” Wow, look at that, increased competition means lower prices for consumer. Who would have ever have thunk it? And yes, that’s a view inside one of their planes.

(Photo: Ted Shelton)

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  1. Geekybiker says:

    I’d settle for ontime planes, and reasonable levels of service at current prices.

  2. TechnoDestructo says:

    @Geekybiker:

    I would, too. But I wouldn’t mind seeing a little more competition in the trans-Pacific market, if they’re going to get into that.

    Not so much that those flights get as shitty as US domestic ones, though.

  3. theblackdog says:

    Is lower future transcontinental fares the real reason why some airlines are raising their prices for domestic flights? :-P

  4. hwyengr says:

    @theblackdog: Wouldn’t transcontinental flights be domestic? Intercontinental would be overseas…

  5. coss3n says:

    @theblackdog: Aren’t most transcontinental flights domestic?

  6. ScramDiggyBooBoo says:

    If prices keep going down, people are going to get a complimentary peanut and a glass of ice…

  7. @ScramDiggyBooBoo: And for entertainment, a sheet of stickers that don’t stick!

  8. sunnfun says:

    Since VA pays only about 50% of the going Salaries for their Pilots they only attract second rate pilots. With the going pilot shortage nobody will work there unless they absolutely have to (i.e. can’t get hired elsewhere). Remember, the Airline WILL save money where the customers can’t see it.

    So, hopefully you’re happy with your cheap ticket.

  9. philipbarrett says:

    wish they’d come to DFW & give the cozy little AA/BA love-fest a run for it’s money

  10. JustAGuy2 says:

    @sunnfun:

    What a shameful scare tactic. Virgin America is 100% as safe as any other US airline (which is to say insanely safe. If you really do believe that there’s a correlation between pilot pay and safety, then stay the heck away from any regional jet flying under the branding of a major (i.e. US Express, Delta Connection, etc.), as those pilots are absolute bottom of the pay scale.

    Your odds of getting killed flying cross country (a 2500 mile trip) are something on the order of 1 in 5 million. Your odds of getting killed driving 15 miles r/t to the airport are something like 1 in 3 million.

  11. sunnfun says:

    @justaguy2 [quote]Virgin America is 100% as safe as any other US airline [/quote]

    we’ll see about that.

    [quote]If you really do believe that there’s a correlation between pilot pay and safety, then stay the heck away from any regional jet flying under the branding of a major as those pilots are absolute bottom of the pay scale.[/quote]

    And that is exactly why I don’t fly on them because I don’t believe, I /know/. Most junior pilots at the regionals qualify for food stamps and work second jobs to afford their high price hub towns. It’s not unusual for them come to work fatigued from washing cars or flipping burgers all day before they go to work. How do you think they live off of $17K a year in JFK, ORD or LAX?

    I’m sure if the flying public would be more aware of this it would be more of an issue. But maybe they just need their own “lead paint” scandal before people realize that “cheap” comes at a price.

  12. JustAGuy2 says:

    @sunnfun:

    Yup, and flying on a regional is still, by any reasonable metric, insanely safe.

    Basically, there’s absolutely ZERO correlation between pilot pay and accident rates. Check this out: [www.airsafe.com]

    America West, JetBlue, Hawaiian, and Southwest have the lowest accident rates. Does that mean their pilots are BETTER paid than those at Delta, Continental, American, or United? Hardly. American’s accident rate is 3x Delta’s – does that mean that America’s pilots are less well paid?

    If you drive a car, but won’t fly regional jets for safety reasons, you’re fundamentally irrational. Sounds more like you have a beef with the airlines though – furloughed pilot?

  13. sunnfun says:

    @JustAGuy2:

    You seem to be quite the insider. Hawaiian has, what, like 30 Airplanes? Jet Blue and AWA have not been around long enough to compare them equally with a Major Airline and Southwest actually pays much better for comparable equipment then any Major. If you don’t know why AA has a higher accident rate than Delta you should not be talking about this subject.

    I am an active airline pilot and am quite happy with the safety standard and pay at my airline. At least we don’t have to hire guys who have to whore themselves out for 50% of the going rate for this kind of equipment. And if we ever do, I’ll seek employment elsewhere.

    But you just go ahead and book the cheapest ticket. You get what you pay for.

  14. JustAGuy2 says:

    @sunnfun:

    Yadda yadda yadda. You haven’t come close to refuting the simple fact that flying on any US carrier is insanely safe, and entirely and completely unconnected to what the pilots are paid.

    As for AA vs. Delta, part of it was 9/11, but even taking that out, Delta’s “safer.”

    Bottom line, if you think that there’s any material difference between the safety records of any of the US airlines, you’re simply not being rational.

    Frankly, your comment about pilots “whor[ing] themselves out” says it all – you don’t think Virgin America is unsafe, you just hate the fact that their lower cost structure puts pressure on your employer and your compensation.

  15. sunnfun says:

    @JustAGuy2: Again, you’re showing that you have no idea about the internal workings of the airline industry. And as for your last comment, it does not only puts pressure on employee cost, but also maintenance (outsourcing to central america, heavy mx to asia and south america), ops etc. And cutting corners ultimately leads to compromise of safety.

    Anyways, it looks like the total concentration on price has resulted in a great product, judging on how delighted everybody is with the current state of affairs in the domestic market.

  16. JustAGuy2 says:

    @sunnfun:

    OK, let’s make this simple. Show me any evidence at all that there’s any correlation (to heck with causation, I’ll take correlation) between pilot compensation and airline safety. I’ll be waiting.

  17. sunnfun says:

    @JustAGuy2: Easy. Just start here:

    JACDEC´s AIRLINER SAFETY STATISTICS

    and compare the Major US Air Carriers with their lower paying Regionals. Then work your way deeper into it.

    You might also have a look into the NTSB Database for some accident details on overworked and underpaid and sometimes poorly trained regional pilots and their issues with fatigue. Start with these two:

    Corporate Airlines (d.b.a. American Connection) flight 59…

    Pinnacle Airlines flight 3701 (d.b.a. Northwest Airlink)<…

    All this is primarily cost driven.

    You really have no leg to stand on. But I’m done doing your homework; you just enjoy flying the cheap skies. Good luck.

  18. JustAGuy2 says:

    @sunnfun:

    As my stats professor is fond of saying, “for example is not data.”

    If you want to go by anecdote, how about Tenarife? Worst airline accident in history, and primarily due to error by one of KLM’s most senior pilots.

    If you’re going to compare regionals vs. mainline carriers, it’s probably worth comparing aircraft types as well – a Dash-8 and a 737 aren’t exactly comparable, particularly when it comes to weather.

    As I said, show me a relationship. You’ve made the assertion that pilot PAY is connected to safety. That is, for two otherwise identical airlines, the one that paid its pilots more would be safer. Please show that relationship. You have, thus far, completely failed to do so.

    I’ll enjoy flying the cheap skies, thanks.

  19. sunnfun says:

    @JustAGuy2:

    Quote “You have, thus far, completely failed to do so”.

    I’ve posted an assertion that is consistent with the facts and widely regarded through the industrie as something thats wrong. You apparently have decided that paying less is for some reason going to give you higher qualified pilots. You are free to believe that.

    Interesting though that you bring up the KLM/PanAm Accident. Because this accidents root cause was cost driven. Cpt. Van Zanten pushed so hard to take/off because his crew was about to run out of duty time and would have cost KLM a lot of money (Bringing in another crew, putting up the PAX, grounding the A/C etc. etc.) and the company man he was, was of course to not going to let this happen.

    You really have no clue. Have a nice life.

  20. JustAGuy2 says:

    @sunnfun:

    I have no belief that paying less will bring more qualified pilots, don’t twist my words. I said that paying less has effectively zero impact on safety – that, due to training and licensing standards, lower paid pilots are either equally as safe, or indetectably less safe, than flights with higher-paid pilots. You haven’t refuted that.

    I’m sure I will have a nice life – I don’t work in a job with inexorable downward compensation pressure, with a significant chance of losing my pension, and no ability to move across employers due to seniority rules.

  21. Trok says:

    @ JUSTAGUY2
    @ sunnfunn

    You also might want to take into consideration that 50% of the pilots graduated in the lower half of their class… now that’s a scary thought

  22. flyhigh says:

    sunnfun is full of it!

    The Pilots getting jobs at VA are all very senior Pilots at their current employer and top notch!
    The reason VA is successful in recruiting them is because most are fed up with the “service” (non-service) the legacy airlines are offering and wanting to be part of something different!
    sunnfun apparently is happy at his “major airline” because he has the same mentality (get a paycheck and go home)as most overpaid and underworked “major” pilots.
    BTW: The safety record at the majors is just as bad or good as the regionals!!!