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.
Why Virgin Atlantic’s #vanotba £50 flight discount is not worth the effort
Once upon a time, Virgin Atlantic never missed an opportunity to have a joke at the expense of its arch-rival British Airways.
Whether it was BA’s decision to introduce World Images tail fins, or to order twin rather than quad-engine long-haul aircraft or the botched opening of Terminal 5, Virgin Atlantic always seized the opportunity to generate free publicity. Meanwhile, BA had no option but to maintain a dignified silence through gritted teeth.
For a long period of time, this worked very well. It generated huge PR for Virgin Atlantic and, at least in PR terms, closed the gap in terms of the relative size of the two airlines.
Over the past few years, things have gone very quiet in terms of the rivalry between the BA and Virgin. Partly because Virgin has undergone changes in management and a restructuring to stem years of financial losses whilst BA has expanded considerably, primarily thanks to its merger with bmi in 2012. Also, the overtly contrived publicity stunt has long been out of fashion.
So it’s something of a surprise to see Virgin launch a new promotion actively encouraging passengers to switch their bookings from BA to Virgin with the promise of a £50 discount.
Here’s how it is supposed to work:
You make a flight booking directly with British Airways (a price quote is not sufficient).
You then contact Virgin Atlantic twice, first by e-mail and then by telephone to make the same booking, and Virgin will give you a £50 discount off your flight for the same dates and destination.
You then have to contact BA to cancel your booking.
Crucially, you must contact BA within 24 hours of making your original BA booking in order to cancel your booking without penalty. Otherwise, the cancellation will be processed in accordance with the rules of your fare and could be non-refundable.
Passengers are encouraged to share their experience using the hashtag #VAnotBA on social media.
1. It feels like it is run for the benefit of Virgin Atlantic rather than passengers.
A £50 discount is, in the grand scheme of things, quite modest. There is also a very limited window of opportunity. The promotion runs from today, Tuesday 13 June to Thursday 15 June.
A cynic might wonder whether this promotion is run primarily to generate PR.
2. It requires a lot of effort on the part of passengers
To take advantage of this promotion, you have to first make a booking direct with BA, e-mail the booking reference to Virgin, call Virgin to obtain a discounted flight and then contact BA to cancel your booking and obtain a refund from BA.
This is a lot of effort for a £50 discount.
3. It could all go wrong very easily
BA’s 24 hour cancellation window, amongst other limitations, only applies to direct flight only bookings. It does not apply to BA Holidays bookings with hotels or car hire or flight bookings via travel agents.
BA is hardly going to be charitable if passengers inadvertently find themselves having to pay for two flights to the same destination on the exact same day.
You also have to wait for BA to process your refund. Given how busy the airline is dealing with compensation claims from last month’s IT outage, this could take many weeks.
A passenger could also easily find themselves having to pay a credit card bill with two flight bookings before the BA flight is refunded. If a passenger cannot settle the credit card bill in full, the interest cost could easily wipe out the £50 saving.
Today sees a significant reorganisation at London Gatwick. easyJet has consolidated its operations in the North Terminal.
To accommodate this move, British Airways has moved from the North Terminal to the South Terminal. Virgin Atlantic has moved from the South Terminal, its home at Gatwick since the airline first launched in 1984, to the North Terminal.
This move of course means new lounges for both BA and Virgin Atlantic.
Virgin Atlantic has today opened its new Clubhouse in the North Terminal. It is located on level 4 of the terminal, after security.
Lounge features include:
A marble bar offering complimentary drinks including bespoke cocktails from East London bar The White Lyan
A complimentary to order brunch menu featuring popular staples such as Eggs Benedict
Floor to ceiling windows with views of the airport’s apron
A woodland themed play area for younger travellers
A Clubhouse spa with a selection of complimentary treatments such as facials and paid for treatments such as wet shaves and massages. The spa is open from 7.00am to 12:30pm
Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse lounge in Hong Kong has closed.
Virgin Atlantic has long been known for its small, but distinctive, portfolio of Clubhouse lounges around the world. That portfolio will be a little smaller shortly as its Clubhouse at Hong Kong International Airport is to close from Sunday 5 February 2017.
The reason for the closure is that the lease on the space occupied by the clubhouse has come up for renewal and Virgin Atlantic has decided not to renew the lease for reasons of cost.
Passengers travelling in Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class cabin and Flying Club Gold members will be able to use the third party Plaza Premium lounge.
Virgin Atlantic has announced it is suspending its summer seasonal route from London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare airport from summer 2017.
The seasonal route had been due to return in 2017 from May to October. However, the route has now been suspended permanently.
It is something of understatement to say that the Chicago route has something of a chequered history at Virgin Atlantic.
The route has been launched and suspended on more than one occasion and most recently has operated on a summer seasonal basis only. It is highly unlikely that the route will now ever return.
Whilst no reason has been given for the cancellation, it is likely that United and British Airways & American Airlines offering significantly higher frequencies (some six joint daily flights in the case of AA & BA) has put Virgin Atlantic at a competitive disadvantage.
Affected passengers should contact either Virgin Atlantic or their travel agent to arrange re-routing via Delta and Virgin Atlantic services to other North American gateways such as New York JFK and Detroit.
Virgin Atlantic has announced it is to fly to Seattle from 26 March 2017.
Flights will be operated from London Heathrow Terminal 3 using a Boeing 787-900 aircraft offering economy, premium economy and Upper Class cabins.
Strictly speaking, this is not a new route as Virgin is merely replacing its transatlantic joint-venture partner Delta on this route.
In turn Delta will also replace Virgin Atlantic on one of the daily frequencies it operates from London Heathrow to Atlanta and Detroit. Full details of the aircraft swaps, which also include changes to services from Manchester, are contained in this Delta press release.
Delta has also today announced that it is to fly from London Heathrow to Portland, Oregon from 26 May 2017.
London Heathrow – Seattle
Flight VS105 Depart London Heathrow 11:00 – Arrive Seattle 13:20
Seattle – London Heathrow
Flight VS106 Depart Seattle 19:10 – Arrive London Heathrow 13:00