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Virgin America Adds Dallas-Ft. Worth

Virgin America has a new city on its route map, and to the surprise of some, it's not Chicago: It's Dallas.

The low-cost carrier will launch service to Dallas-Ft. Worth in early December, with routes from Los Angeles and San Francisco and connecting service from Dallas through LAX and SFO to Las Vegas, San Diego, and Seattle. Service from Los Angeles starts December 1; San Francisco service begins December 6.

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As for fares, introductory prices start at $44 one-way from Los Angeles and San Francisco. There will be two daily nonstops each.

Dallas-Ft. Worth is right in the heart of American Airlines country. Eric Torbenson at the Airline Biz blog observes that American is currently offering a nonstop flight on these routes against mostly one-stop itineraries from other carriers (United's nonstop DFW-SFO route being the notable exception). What effect will new nonstop service from a young, hip, and theoretically cheaper airline have on the market?

"What will really benefit fliers in the market is the matching," Torbenson writes. "Passengers get the advantage of cheap seats on Virgin America plus all the matched cheap seats on American and United, and then perhaps a subsequent deal on connecting itineraries as the gap between nonstop and connecting traffic narrows. That's the beauty of low-fare pricing: the matching."

Torbenson also noted Dallas customers will now encounter a type of service they're not used to seeing: In-flight entertainment, funky mood lighting, and new aircraft. Call it the Virgin America effect. Will that make a difference, too?

This will be a fun one to watch.

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