JetBlue, Southwest respond to Virgin America's intro fares

JetBlue and Southwest, current kingpins among U.S. low-fare airlines, are fighting back against newcomer Virgin America. Both carriers have said they will lower fares on several routes to match Virgin America's introductory prices.

USAToday.com reports that JetBlue is offering round-trip fares from $278 between New York (JFK) and California, matching Virgin America's one-way cross-country fares from $139.

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Southwest is matching Virgin America's fares within California, offering flights from $44 one-way between Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Chris Mainz, a spokesman for Southwest, told Bloomberg News, "We'll keep a very close eye on them and compete vigorously. For the most part, you'll find our fares are very competitive, if not, in fact, lower."

In addition to its competitive fares, Virgin America also offers top-notch amenities including satellite television, video games, touch screens, and leather seats. JetBlue can compete with its own in-flight entertainment system, but Southwest, which doesn't offer any in-flight entertainment, cannot.

Virgin America, with its low fares and impressive amenities, is a welcome addition to the U.S. airline industry. Let's hope it continues to put pressure on both the established low-fare and legacy carriers by forcing them to offer competitive fares and service.

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