Virgin America; United To Begin San Francisco To Washington, DC, Nonstop Service

virgin americaVirgin America has been awarded permission to fly into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport beginning sometime this summer. United Airlines began their service today.

While the well-known carriers already fly direct to San Francisco, its US hub, out of Washington Dulles International, this new route opens up additional opportunities for the business and leisure traveler looking to fly from DC proper, rather than 45-minutes outside of the city.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to bring our unique brand of service to this underserved route – and to better connect one of the world’s leading economies to our nation’s capital,” said David Cush, President and CEO of Virgin America. “Until this year, San Francisco has been the largest travel market in the nation previously without nonstop flights to DCA.”

Typically, long-haul flights are rare from the Washington airport, which normally doesn’t allow flights beyond a 1,250-mile “perimeter limit.”

Most of the prior “beyond perimeter” awards had been made to non-California airports. Smaller markets awarded DCA flights in the past include: Denver (four frequencies), Seattle (two frequencies) and Phoenix (three frequencies). Despite its size and the importance of Northern California’s innovation-based technology sector to the national economy, prior to this year the Bay Area never had nonstop service to DCA. As a result, local consumers and businesses suffered for decades with higher fares and limited choices – either flying to Washington Dulles or taking one-stop connecting flights when traveling to downtown Washington, D.C.

A big cheers today for Virgin, United and DC!

[Flickr via maka]