Virgin Atlantic has today, Wednesday 16 May 2018, announced a series of changes to its transatlantic route network.
As part of these changes, Virgin is to move its route to Las Vegas from Gatwick to Heathrow from Sunday 31 March 2019.
Virgin Atlantic has flown from London Gatwick to Las Vegas since June 2000. At the time it was the only airline to fly direct to Las Vegas from London. That was until BA launched its own route from Heathrow in October 2009. Virgin has also operated limited flights from London Heathrow for the Consumer Electronics Show.
Due to the move the flight will switch from a Boeing 747 to Boeing 787. This means a significant increase in Upper Class seats from 14 to 31 and a decrease in premium economy seats from 66 to 35 and economy seats from 375 to 192. The additional flight at Heathrow will be accommodated by a reduction in frequency on London Heathrow – Los Angeles.
Operating from Heathrow will enable Virgin to compete against BA which offers substantially more premium capacity with its Boeing 747 service from Heathrow.
BA will continue to fly to Las Vegas from Gatwick year-round. Norwegian also flies from Gatwick to Las Vegas on a winter seasonal basis from 5 November 2018.
London Heathrow – Las Vegas
Flight VS155 Depart London Heathrow 12:40 – Arrive Las Vegas McCarran International 15:25
Flight VS156 Depart Las Vegas McCarran Internaional 19:05 – Arrive London Heathrow 12:55
Additional Boston Frequency
Virgin Atlantic has also announced an additional flight to Boston will launch on Sunday 31 March 2019.
It will be operated by an Airbus A330-300 aircraft. An additional transatlantic day flight is certainly welcome.
Flight VS157 Depart London Heathrow 20:30 – Arrive Boston Logan International 23:00
Flight VS158 Depart Boston Logan Internaional 19:05 – Arrive London Heathrow 20:10
These flights will be on sale at Virgin Atlantic from Saturday 19 May 2018.
Virgin has also confirmed that winter seasonal flights from London Heathrow to Barbados will return on Tuesdays and Saturdays from Tuesday 11 December 2018 to Saturday 23 February 2019.
British Airways has today announced it is to launch a new summer seasonal route from London Gatwick to Toronto and reinstate its London Gatwick – Las Vegas route next summer.
BA will fly to Las Vegas three times a week from Tuesday 27 March 2018 on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday until Friday 26 October 2018. BA will fly to Toronto three times a week from Tuesday 1 May 2018, also on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday until Friday 26 October 2018.
Both Las Vegas and Toronto are served by BA at London Heathrow up to twice daily. BA has previously flown from Gatwick to Las Vegas. However, the service was suspended last year.
Toronto is BA’s first route from London Gatwick to Canada. It is something of a surprise to see BA launch the Toronto from Gatwick, as it is not one of the stronger Heathrow routes due to a lack of presence by the Oneworld alliance in Canada.
However, there can be absolutely no doubt this is a move to take on the growth of low lost long-haul at Gatwick. Las Vegas is served by Norwegian. Toronto is also served by both WestJet and Air Canada Rouge.
British Airways is to fly its Airbus A380 aircraft to Chicago O’Hare from Tuesday 8 May 2018.
This will be the first time the BA A380 has flown to Chicago. BA will continue to fly to Chicago twice daily.
Currently, the route is operated by the Boeing 747 and 777. The A380 will be a significant upgrade over the albeit recent refurbished Boeing 747s which will continue to ply this route, particularly with regard to seating in premium economy and First Class.
A380 flights to Chicago are on sale now at ba.com. Please note that the operation of the A380 may be subject to seasonal adjustments.
The BA A380 currently operates on selected flights to Boston, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Singapore, Vancouver and Washington. It also operates to Miami in the winter months and Vancouver in the summer.
The latest addition to BA’s A380 network will be sourced from aircraft servicing its existing network. BA has taken delivery of all twelve A380s it has ordered from Airbus.
The airline has options to purchase a further seven aircraft from Airbus but has not exercised them. Willie Walsh, CEO of BA’s parent company International Airlines Group, has expressed an interest in leasing second hand A380s for BA and possibly other IAG group airlines, but nothing has come of this.
BA London Heathrow – Chicago O’Hare
Flight BA295 Depart London Heathrow 10:50 – Arrive Chicago O’Hare 13:25 (Airbus A380)
Flight BA297 Depart London Heathrow 16:05 – Arrive Chicago O’Hare 18:4O (Boeing 747)
Flight BA294 Depart Chicago O’Hare 17:30 – Arrive London Heathrow 07:20 (Airbus A380)
Flight BA296 Depart Chicago O’Hare 20:40 – Arrive London Heathrow 10:25 (Boeing 747) (Excluding Fridays)
Flight BA296 Depart Chicago O’Hare 20:50 – Arrive London Heathrow 10:35 (Boeing 747) (Fridays Only)
Update: Since the announcement the Airbus A380 has switched to flights BA297 / BA296. The launch date also changed to Friday 4 May 2018.
Virgin Atlantic is to operate two special return flights between London Heathrow (departing on Sunday 7 & Monday 8 January 2018) and Las Vegas (returning Friday 12 & Saturday 13 January 2018) for the benefit of visitors to the annual Consumer Electronics Show.
Virgin Atlantic is to operate two special return flights between London Heathrow and Las Vegas for the benefit of visitors to the annual Consumer Electronics Show in January 2018.
The flights will depart London Heathrow on Sunday 7 and Monday 8 January 2018 and will return from Las Vegas on Friday 12 and Saturday 13 January 2018.
Flights will be operated using Virgin Atlantic’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner which features a larger Upper Class cabin as well as amenities such as in-flight WiFi.
These will complement Virgin’s existing Boeing 747 service between London Gatwick and Las Vegas and will compete BA’s own direct Boeing 747 services between London Heathrow and Las Vegas which can operate up to twice daily.
This new “pop up” route does point to Virgin being flexible with its schedule to take advantage of peaks in demand. The airline is to also launch a seasonal route from London Heathrow to Barbados in December 2017, which will again complement its London Gatwick service.
Norwegian Air Shuttle continues its rapid expansion at London Gatwick with the launch of new direct flights to Las Vegas.
The airline will fly to Las Vegas twice weekly (Monday & Thursday) from Monday 31 October 2016.
This will be Norwegian’s 8th long-haul route from London Gatwick after New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco – Oakland, Boston, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Puerto Rico.
Norwegian will be competing against direct flights by Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick and British Airways from London Heathrow.
On that note, the very rapid growth by Norwegian is not going unnoticed by either British Airways nor Virgin Atlantic. We have already seen British Airways reinstate its London Gatwick – New York JFK route as an apparent competitive response. We would not be surprised to see further activity by either airlines which both depend very heavily on transatlantic traffic for profitability.
Flights are on sale now at Norwegian.com and an initial scan of fares shows return trips being available for less than £399.
London Gatwick – Las Vegas
Flight DY7107 Depart London Gatwick 12:10 – Arrive Las Vegas 16:00 (Monday, Thursday)
Las Vegas – London Gatwick
Flight DY7108 Depart Las Vegas 18:00 – Arrive London Gatwick 10:50
Launched in late 2009 when the airline was still reeling from the impact of the global financial crisis, British Airways’ daily service from London Heathrow to Las Vegas was an instant success with capacity quickly added through an aircraft upgrade and, more recently an additional three times weekly service from London Gatwick.
The service from London Gatwick has now been suspended, with the last return flight operating on Sunday 25 April 2016. BA will continue to fly to Vegas at least once a day from London Heathrow.
The reason for this was that even though the flights continue to operate with a four class Boeing 747 aircraft, these routes would be operated with aircraft that have not been fitted with the latest version of BA’s first class cabin.
Instead, BA would operate the old first class cabin as an extension of Club World business class.
As part of a wider set of terminal moves at London Heathrow and the consolidation of BA’s operations into Terminals 3 and 5, a number of long-haul BA flights are to move from Terminal 5 to 3 from Wednesday 14 October 2015.
These flights are Accra, Cape Town, Denver, Las Vegas, Miami, Nairobi, Phoenix and Vancouver.
Update December 2014: BA has announced that First Class will return to Vancouver from Sunday 29 March 2015 and Cape Town, Las Vegas and Phoenix from Sunday 25 October 2015. More details here
Many readers will know that, over the past five years, British Airways has been progressively updating its four class Boeing 777 and 747 aircraft with a new first class product.
The roll out on Boeing 777 aircraft has long been complete. Out of BA’s fleet of nearly fifty Boeing 747 aircraft, less than ten do not have the latest first class product. These aircraft are left with the Kelly Hoppen designed interior from the year 2000.
It is no exaggeration to say these cabins are showing their age and, in response, BA has by default offered 50,000 Avios to members of the Executive Club frequent flyer programme as compensation.
With number of 747s in BA’s fleet expected to fall to approximately thirty by 2018 and the last 747 due to retire after 2020, many of those aircraft that do not have the new first class cabin are likely to be retired over the coming year.
BA has now decided to stop selling first class on these aircraft and will instead offer a three class service, with business class passengers seated in the first class cabin (who will receive the standard “Club World” service) if there is the demand.