Australian passengers with a penchant for style, comfort, inflight internet and on-demand entertainment have a new way to get from Los Angeles and San Francisco to New York, with Virgin America set to launch new flights from LAX and SFO to Newark, NYC's second-largest airport.
That's especially handy if you're heading to Manhattan in rush hour, since Newark is the only New York area airport usefully connected by train to the city.
Tickets are now on sale for the 2 April 2013 kickoff, when the three daily LAX-Newark flights will join existing LAX-JFK to offer a total nine flights each day.
It's a similar story from San Francisco, with three Newark flights added to five JFK flights for a total of eight daily returns.
Virgin America's economy seats – or 'coach', as the US call it – have 32 inches of pitch as standard, although for more legroom and a few other in-flight extras you can upgrade to Main Cabin Select.
There's also inflight Internet to keep you occupied on the cross-country trek.
You can earn Virgin Australia Velocity frequent flyer points when travelling on Virgin America, while Velocity Platinum and Gold members have access to priority check-in, priority screening and priority boarding on all Virgin America-operated flights.
Lower-status Silvers don't get priority screening so they'll have to mix it with the masses, but they can still skip some queues with priority check-in and priority boarding.
Useful for Australian connections?
Australian Business Traveller crunched the numbers, and in terms of efficient connections from partner Virgin Australia, that morning flight is only really useful for Brisbane passengers arriving on VA7 at 0605, or passengers who count Virgin America's comfort and amenities – including the new Loft lounge, if you're travelling in VA business class or hold Velocity Platinum/Gold frequent flyers status – over a four-hour-plus layover in LAX.
The three daily flights from LAX will leave at 0940 (arriving 1800), 1315 (arriving 2129), and 2345 (arriving 0759 the next morning).
Melbourne flight VA23 arrives at 0750 — we wince at the idea of reliably making it through US customs and immigration, a change of terminal, and onto a connecting flight that quickly — and Sydney's VA1 arrives at 0930: not going to happen.
The 1040 JFK-bound flight is a much safer bet.
Return flights from Newark leave at 0915 (arriving 1230), 1300 (arriving 1615) and 1855 (arriving 2210).
That's not especially convenient for the 2025 departure of Sydney-bound VA2, Melbourne's 2230 VA24, or Brisbane-destined VA8 at 2255, but it'd work if you seriously prioritise comfort over schedule.
Again, flights from JFK provide a more convenient timetable, but overall we wouldn't be surprised if trans-Pacific premium economy passengers (who are seated in Virgin America's extra-legroom, extra-benefits Main Cabin) end up on a Newark flight rather than a less spacious alternative.
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