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Virgin America to Start Service at Austin Airport

February 13, 2013

virgin americaHelen Anders, Austin American-Statesman, February 13, 2013

Austinites will have a third nonstop flight option to San Francisco in May. Virgin America will launch daily service between Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and San Francisco International Airport on May 21 with midweek rates as low as $89 each way, for a roundtrip total of $177.80. Weekend rates are higher.

The fare beats those of the other nonstops on JetBlue and United Airlines, which currently start about $250. JetBlue does not charge a fee for the first checked bag, however. Virgin, like United, charges $25 each way for the first checked bag. The Virgin America fare plus a bag fee totals $227.90, an amount similar to a sale fare that JetBlue often charges for that route.

"This new service will increase travel demand, offer convenient new options for business and leisure travelers and spur local economic growth," Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell said in a statement. "With Virgin America's tech-focused features onboard, I think the service will be well-received by Austinites."

Virgin America's nonstop departs Austin at 5 p.m. and arrives at 7 p.m. The return flight leaves San Francisco at 10:15 a.m. and arrives in Austin at 3:35 p.m. JetBlue's Austin-San Francisco nonstop, in contrast, is a morning flight, and the return flight is a night flight. United offers four nonstops throughout the day between Austin and San Francisco on regional jets.

Like JetBlue, Virgin has satellite TV in seatback monitors, and, like JetBlue, it sells headsets for $2.

San Francisco International has a BART line directly into downtown San Francisco. Tech workers bound for San Jose typically prefer that airport, which Southwest serves with a nonstop. ___

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