Virgin America launched service between Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles on December 1, and will begin flying between Dallas and San Francisco five days later, on December 6.
To promote the new flights, Virgin America covered most of the traditional marketing bases.
On the community relations side, Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson hosted a Willy Nelson concert at Dallas' Winspear Opera House.
For the food focused, there was an inaugural barbeque on the tarmac. Texas-style, presumably.
And for the price conscious, it's discounting prices on tickets purchased by December 6, for travel on the new routes through May 11, to $129 to $139 each way.
What it didn't do—or hasn't done so far, at least—is offer bonus points for the rewards-oriented members of its Elevate program.
Perhaps it didn't want to start a frequent flyer war with American, which is based in Dallas and competes head-to-head with Virgin America on the new routes? If that was Virgin America's calculation, it underestimated the extent of American's resolve to defend its turf.
Clearly in direct response to Virgin America's assault on its Dallas base, American is offering members of its AAdvantage program double miles—both flight miles and elite-qualifying miles (EQMs)—for round-trip flights between Dallas and both Los Angeles and San Francisco completed by February 28.
I confirmed with American that the bonuses also apply to through-flights. So, for example, if you flew from Los Angeles to Dallas and on to New York, you'd still earn double miles for the Los Angeles-Dallas segment of the trip.
Registration is required.
In addition to the mileage bonuses, American has rolled out "15 Days of Giveaways," in which, according to American's news release, "customers on yet-to-be-revealed DFW to LAX or SFO flights between December 1 and 15 will receive special gifts from American, including Admirals Club passes, movie tickets and extra AAdvantage miles." Today, December 2, the giveaway is a voucher for $50 off a future flight.
Deal or No Deal
Double miles on popular routes make for a good offer. And adding double EQMs makes a good offer a great one.
Assuming ticket prices are similar, the mileage bonuses make American the clear favorite for upcoming flights on the affected routes. It might even be worth routing a longer trip through one of the eligible city pairs to earn the extra miles, especially if elite status is a priority.
(This being a tit-for-tat industry, I asked a Virgin America representative whether it planned to match American's mileage promotion. As of press time, there was no response.)
Reader Reality Check
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This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.