Even as fuel prices soar, Los Angeles airline passengers are enjoying an old-fashioned fare war sparked by newcomer Virgin America, the LA Times reports. Sir Richard Branson's brainchild has drawn United, Alaska, Southwest, and even longtime LAX holdout JetBlue into a feud that's seen one-way fares as low as $44. "We've become a hotbed of competition," says an airport exec.
Virgin America entered the market in August, and dropping prices soon followed. Fares to some destinations have fallen nearly 50%, and experts see the trend continuing: Virgin wants to expand from three routes to 30 in 3 years. The interloper features in-flight chatrooms and mood lighting, but because its appeal to the lucrative business traveler is uncertain, so are its long-term prospects, analysts say.