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Bargain hunters on board with Virgin America

March 3, 2008 | 10:00 am

VirginIt's a request that makes many residents recoil: can you give me a ride to LAX?  Just the thought of having to fight traffic on the 405 and then maneuvering around crazed taxis and baggage-toting, jet-lagged tourists leaves one scrambling to come up with excuses. Well, think faster.   The arrival and expansion of Virgin America at Los Angeles International Airport has triggered a fare war that will be hard to pass up for bargain hunters.

Some travelers out of LAX are paying about half of what they used to on routes where Virgin America has started flying, reports Peter Pae. This April, for example, Virgin America will start service to Seattle with fares as low as $77 one way.

Of course, it remains to be seen how long  Richard Branson's Virgin America can afford to keep offering fares so low despite record oil and fuel prices. And, of course, many of those cheap fares apply to only a limited number of seats. Yet, travelers are happy for any reprieve in escalating fares.

"It's been awesome," said Brandon Brown, a San Francisco State University student whose family lives in Westchester and was flying down from San Francisco on a Virgin America flight. "Sometimes it's now cheaper for me to fly than drive."

What's also cheap is the FlyAway bus service to LAX ($4 from downtown L.A.). It saves travelers money and will save their friends and families from a drive to the airport.

-- Jesus Sanchez

Photo: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times