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Fare Wars Are Back At Dallas Love Field

Bill Zeeble
Love Field's busy downstairs lobby may get busier with Virgin America's launch of low-fare flights to Austin. It'll compete directly with Southwest Airlines, the low-cost carrier that helped build its success on that route.

It’s Fare-war time again at Love Field. Virgin America announced it’ll fly from Dallas to Austin for $39. That got the attention of Dallas-based Southwest, which built its business, in part, on that route.

Virgin America launches flights from Love Field to Austin April 28 with the sincerest form of flattery to competitor Southwest Airlines. It’ll imitate that carrier’s proven ploy – a sale.

“I think it’s cheap. Can’t get there on a tank of gas for $39 bucks you wouldn’t think,” says Jory Levy.  

The passenger from Dallas, says the price is so good – half of Southwest’s standard low fare - he might even consider a cheap flight to Austin. That’s when Virgin America might try selling him an upgrade to first class. Virgin America’s Abby Lunardini says that’s something Southwest doesn’t offer. 

“You know we actually have a lot of respect for Southwest Airlines as the original low fare carrier,” Lunardini says. “And the difference with Love Field in particular is that our primary competitor there doesn’t have a first- class or premium economy cabin.”  

An upgrade sale wouldn’t work on Marilyn Bailey. She’s happy with Southwest’s low prices and something offered by Southwest

“Free baggage on Southwest,” Bailey says.   

Southwest isn’t asleep in the cockpit. It’s matching Virgin America’s $39 fares to Austin. Those flights must be booked before midnight tomorrow.  

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.