Virgin Atlantic is to reduce its lounge services for Upper Class passengers, and eligible members of the Virgin Flying Club and partner airline programmes.
At London Heathrow, the “Revivals” lounge for arriving passengers will close entirely from Thursday 19 March.
The Clubhouse lounge at Terminal 3 will remain open but with reduced staffing. The deli counter will be closed and shoe shine services will not be offered. The spa and salon will also close from Monday 23 March.
The current plan is for services to return to normal on Monday 1 June 2020.
However, given how quickly events are moving with Coronavirus, nothing than can be ruled out.
No airline is expecting a return to normal schedules for many months, if at all this year.
Virgin is currently operating a significantly reduced schedule and expects to have 85% of its aircraft grounded in April. Given the scale of this reduction, a number of lounges outside of London will inevitably close temporarily.
On a lounge related note, American Express has announced that all of its Centurion lounges worldwide will close temporarily from Saturday 21 April 2020.
Virgin Atlantic is to postpone the launch of its new route from London Heathrow to São Paulo.
Virgin was due to launch a new daily service to São Paulo Guarulhos international airport on Sunday 29 March 2020.
However, this has now been delayed until Monday 5 October 2020.
The airline has cited the uncertainty caused by the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) as the reason for the delay.
Passengers whose flights have been cancelled are entitled to a full refund. Virgin should also the opportunity to rebook to a later date, or a rerouting via its transatlantic joint-venture partner Delta Air Lines.
There is no doubt that the current situation facing all airlines is now very serious, with significantly reduced demand.
With so many events being cancelled and organisations banning international travel, there is very little that can be done to stimulate demand.
Virgin has followed many other airlines in waiving change fees for new flights booked up to Tuesday 31 March 2020 for travel up Wednesday 30 September 2020.
Virgin Atlantic is to return to Cape Town after a break of five years with a new winter seasonal service from London Heathrow.
Flights will operate daily from Sunday 25 October 2020 with a Boeing 787-9 aircraft.
Virgin used to fly to Cape Town until April 2015 when the route was suspended as part of a wide-ranging review of the Virgin Atlantic route network.
Cape Town is a hugely popular winter long-haul destination and the arrival of additional capacity will be welcomed.
Following the closure of Thomas Cook, the route has been exclusively operated by British Airways with daily Boeing 747s from London Heathrow and a winter seasonal Boeing 777 service from London Gatwick. It’s fair to say that the interior condition of Virgin’s 787-9 aircraft is significantly better than some of BA’s soon to be retired 747s that are used on this route.
Flight VS478 will depart London Heathrow at 16:20 arriving at Cape Town at 05:55.
Flight VS479 will depart Cape Town at 08:00 arriving at London Heathrow at 18:00.
Note the return to London Heathrow is a day flight and some may passengers prefer a night flight. There is of course the option of flying back to Heathrow overnight on Virgin Atlantic’s daily service from Johannesburg.
Flights will go on sale from Tuesday 18 February 2020.
The last outbound flight from London Heathrow, VS250, will operate on Friday 31 January 2020. The last inbound flight, VS251, will operate on Saturday 1 February 2020.
Virgin Atlantic currently plans to resume its outbound flight from London Heathrow on Monday 17 February 2020 and its inbound flight to London Heathrow on Tuesday 18 February 2020. However, this is subject to review.
Passengers whose flights have been cancelled are entitled to a full refund, or to rebook to a later date.
Virgin Atlantic will continue to fly daily from London Heathrow to Hong Kong. Passengers who are due to fly to Hong Kong can also request a refund or rebook to a later date.
Virgin Atlantic is to return to Mumbai for the third time with the relaunch of flights from London Heathrow from Sunday 27 October 2019.
Virgin Atlantic and Mumbai has a long history.
Virgin first launched flights from London Heathrow to Mumbai following the liberalisation of services between the UK and India in 2005. This saw a number of airlines, such as bmi British Midland, enter the market and the route was suspended.
The route was launched again in 2012 with different timings in the hope of capturing connecting traffic to Virgin’s North America route network. It was suspended for a second time in 2015 as part of a wide-ranging reshaping of Virgin’s route network towards North American routes.
Since then, Virgin had relied on a codeshare with Jet Airways to serve Mumbai, and following its recent collapse Virgin has now reinstated the route.
This, together with the launch of Tel Aviv and Sao Paulo, does point to Virgin seeking to move beyond North American routes at London Heathrow. What may work in Virgin’s favour this time is a potential future codeshare partnership with Air France and KLM.
Flights will be operated with a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft and will go on sale at Virgin Atlantic from Tuesday 28 May 2019.
London Heathrow – Mumbai
Depart London Heathrow 10:15 – Arrive Mumbai 00:40 Depart Mumbai 02:55 – Arrive London Heathrow 07:35
Virgin Atlantic is to launch a new route from London Heathrow to São Paulo.
Virgin Atlantic will fly to São Paulo Guarulhos international airport from an as yet unspecified date in 2020. The route will be operated with a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Virgin has yet to publish a schedule. However, it’s a reasonable assumption flights will leave Heathrow late in the evening to arrive in São Paulo in the early morning.
São Paulo may at first seem daunting for the visitor. It is certainly a very sharp contrast to the beaches of Rio de Janeiro and it is a destination where you do need to some homework in advance. However, São Paulo does have excellent night life, art galleries and public parks such as Ibirapuera Park. Locals are also extremely welcoming and helpful to visitors.
One of the biggest issues is traffic congestion and you do need to allow a generous amount of time when travelling to the airport. If you are also taking domestic flights in Brazil you want to fly to/from Congonhas-São Paulo airport which is much more conveniently located.
Given Virgin’s focus on North America in recent years, it is encouraging to see more non-North American routes. Virgin Atlantic’s 49% shareholder Delta owns a stake in Brazilian airline GOL which may have been one of the factors behind the decision.
Virgin Atlantic will be competing head to head against BA and LATAM, who are due to launch a new joint-venture with Iberia covering Europe – Latin America, subject to an appeal in Chile.
Virgin Atlantic is to launch a new route from London Heathrow to Tel Aviv from Monday 25 September 2019.
Flights will operate daily and the route will be operated with an Airbus A330 aircraft.
It is relatively rare for Virgin to launch a route to a destination outside the US. Indeed, many non-US routes have been suspended in recent years in favour of increased flights to the US. Tel Aviv is also a destination already well served from London by BA, easyJet and El Al. However, this route is likely to have been chosen to pick up feeder traffic to Delta and Virgin flights to the US.
When Air France-KLM and Virgin combine their respective transatlantic joint-ventures with Delta, it will also benefit from joint-marketing by Air France and KLM.
Virgin Atlantic has not yet officially confirmed the schedule, but local media report an afternoon departure from London Heathrow and an early morning departure from Tel Aviv, subject to seasonal changes.
London Heathrow – Tel Aviv
Flight VS453 Depart London Heathrow 13:30 – Arrive Tel Aviv 20:35
Flight VS454 Depart Tel Aviv 07:15 – Arrive London Heathrow 11:10
From Sunday 27 October 2019:
Flight VS453 Depart London Heathrow 16:00 – Arrive Tel Aviv 23:05
Flight VS454 Depart Tel Aviv 06:05 – Arrive London Heathrow 09:55
Virgin Atlantic has suspended its daily service from London Heathrow to Dubai from Sunday 31 March 2019.
The route was taken off sale today, Wednesday 27 June 2018. Virgin Atlantic has been flying to Dubai since March 2006. Its suspension follows the the cancellation of a number of routes outside of North America from London Heathrow including Accra, Cape Town, Mumbai, Nairobi, Sydney, Tokyo Narita, and Vancouver.
There will be of course continue to be substantial capacity between London and Dubai with Emirates operating six A380s a day from London Heathrow alone, as well as three times daily flights from Gatwick and daily flights from Stansted. BA will also continue to fly to Dubai up to three times daily from London Heathrow.
Virgin has not yet announced any re-accommodation arrangements for displaced passengers. However, if your flight is cancelled you are entitled to a full refund.
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.