It's been just under one month since Richard Branson's low-cost start up carrier, Virgin America, began operations from its San Francisco hub to such cities as New York, Los Angeles, and soon, Washington, D.C.
The carrier reached out to a small portion of the agent
community recently, with the intent of expanding on that communication soon,
though no further details were available at press time.
A Virgin America spokesperson said that the airline hopes to
do more events like the one it held in July for about 80 agencies, which took
tours of the aircraft and received complimentary tickets. Virgin America is
available through Galileo.
Many agents are eager for a more widespread outreach.
"I know nothing except what's been reported in the media," says Trudy
Lagerman, a travel consultant with Liberty Travel in Selinsgrove, PA,
which has bulk deals in place with Virgin Atlantic, "but if Branson
handles his domestic routes as he does on Virgin Atlantic's international
routes, it's going to be an extremely successful airline. I have frequent
fliers who will pay more to fly Virgin America, just based on his
John Clifford of International Travel Management in San Diego, CA,
says he too, is waiting to know more about how the airline would engage agents,
but adds that he has no doubt the agent community would hear more soon.
"The bottom line is that Richard Branson's culture is very
agent-friendly," he says. "He realizes the value of people and having
a human face to sell a product."
Virgin America said it expects to serve as many as 10 cities
within a year and up to 30 cities within five years. Flights between San Francisco and New
York began August 8. On August 29, Virgin America began
service between New York and Los Angeles with two daily roundtrip flights;
a third will be added September 16. On September 26, the carrier will start
flying twice-daily service between San Francisco
and Washington, D.C.,
Dulles; on October 10, three daily flights between San
Francisco and Las Vegas; and on
October 24, two daily flights between Los Angeles
and Washington, D.C.
The carrier is considering expanding service to close to 40
cities, including Atlanta, Boston,
Dallas, Miami, Newark, N.J. and Philadelphia.