Virgin Atlantic has launched a new route from London Heathrow to Tampa, Florida.
Virgin will fly to Tampa from Thursday 3 November 2022. Flights will initially operate four times weekly and increase to daily from Monday 28 November 2022. The service will operate year round.
The city of Tampa on the Gulf Coast of Florida is Virgin Atlantic’s third destination in the state, after Miami and Orlando. Passengers visiting Florida can of course mix arrival and departure airports.
British Airways is to suspend its route from London Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale.
The last flights between Gatwick and Fort Lauderdale are scheduled to operate on Saturday 7 September 2019.
The route currently operates three times weekly. It launched in 2017 and, like BA’s now suspended route to Oakland, followed the launch of this route by Norwegian at Gatwick.
Norwegian has in the past month switched its Gatwick – Fort Lauderdale route to Miami International. This means London will have no direct link to Fort Lauderdale. This is a shame as Fort Lauderdale is a worthwhile destination in its own right and an alternative to what is a very unpredictable arrivals experience at Miami International.
Passengers whose flights have been cancelled are entitled to a full refund. Alternatively, passengers can be re-accommodated on American Airlines and BA services from Heathrow to Miami International. However, any additional costs such as ground transportation will be at your own expense.
British Airways has changed its designated lounge for eligible passengers flying from Tampa International Airport to London Gatwick.
BA has previously used a third party lounge on Concourse F of the terminal. However, from 31 October 2018 the designated lounge for BA Club World and Silver and Gold members of the Executive Club is the American Airlines Admirals Club.
Under Oneworld alliance lounge access rules, eligible BA passengers have always had access to this lounge in any event. The lounge is located near to Gate 85 on Concourse F. The lounge is open until 19:15, 10 minutes before BA’s daily flight to Gatwick is currently scheduled to depart.
The lounge offers standard American Airlines Admirals Club fare with complimentary soft drinks and light snack foods. BA passengers should be offered a chit on reception for a “premium beverage” from the bar. There is also a food menu which, in the absence of any information to the contrary, has to be paid for.
On a tangential note, Norwegian has now started flying from London Gatwick to Tampa twice weekly on Wednesday and Saturdays.
The Florida Keys, as the southernmost point of the US, have long been a popular escape from winter in the Northern hemisphere for those seeking a more bohemian alternative to the crowds and overt self-confidence of Miami Beach. And it has better sunsets.
You can of course drive there, but there is also the option of flying. Many US airlines, through their regional affiliates, fly to Key West International Airport with varying degrees of frequency from their respective hubs. American Airlines from Dallas Fort Worth and Miami; Delta from Atlanta; and United from Chicago O’Hare and Newark.
You’ll also see a number of private plans on the airfield at Key West. Other than that it’s largely Silver Airways flights to the Florida region, an airline we don’t know enough about to comment on – though online reviews don’t instil confidence.
It’s flying between Miami and Key West over the Florida Keys on American Eagle that we’ll cover as it is the most likely route for visitors to Florida.
American serves the route many times a day, typically using Embraer E175 aircraft operated by Republic Airlines under the American Eagle livery.
Norwegian’s routes to Austin and Seattle which both launched only recently will be suspended for the winter season from Sunday 28 October 2018 and should resume from late March 2019.
Las Vegas, which had been suspended for the summer, returns three times weekly for the winter.
The following routes will also benefit from increases in frequency:
– Boston from five times weekly to daily
– Buenos Aires from four times weekly to daily
– Fort Lauderdale from three times weekly to daily
– Orlando from three times weekly to four times weekly
The following routes will be reduced in frequency:
– Chicago from daily to four times weekly
– Oakland from four times weekly to three times weekly
New York JFK will also increase to three times daily, as previously announced. The suspension of Austin and Chicago for the winter does suggest Norwegian has hit a ceiling in terms of year round routes to North America from London Gatwick.
All flights continue to be operated by Boeing 787-9 aircraft in a two class configuration, save where Norwegian has wet-leased aircraft as it has done to New York JFK.
Norwegian is of course subject to takeover speculation following International Airlines Group’s purchase of a minority stake in the airline. Should there be a change in ownership in Norwegian in the coming months it is highly likely there will be changes to its network.
It is also BA’s fourth destination in Florida after Miami, Orlando and Tampa.
Flights will operate three times weekly (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) with additional flight on Sunday in the peak summer season (16 July – 3 September 2017).
Flights will be operated using a three class Boeing 777-200 aircraft with Club World business class, World Traveller Plus premium economy, and World Traveller economy.
BA is not for the first airline to fly to Fort Lauderdale from Gatwick as Norwegian have been flying the route for some time. Indeed, this is the second time BA has launched a new route to head-to-head with Norwegian at Gatwick, after reinstating flights from Gatwick to New York JFK.
This route will popular with tourists to South Florida and those taking cruises from the area.
It is also a potentially better gateway than Miami airport and should promise a smoother experience in US Customs & Immigration.
That said, BA’s Airbus A380 operated flights from London Heathrow to Miami will offer the option of First Class, newer World Traveller Plus and World Traveller seating, a more advanced in flight entertainment system and a more pleasant cabin environment. It will of course be possible to “mix and match” flights between different airports. Flights will also be codeshared with Aer Lingus, American Airlines, Finnair and Iberia.
Some good news for British Airways passengers at London Gatwick. The airline has announced that, from the start of the Summer 2014 season on 30 March 2014, it will increase the frequency of flights on the following routes:
Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) increases from 2 to 3 flights a week
Antigua increases from 5 to 6 flights a week
Kingston increases from 3 to 4 flights a week
St Lucia increases from 6 to 7 flights a week
Orlando increases from 10 to 13 flights a week
The increase in frequency has been enabled by the addition of one more Boeing 777 aircraft, taking the number of Boeing 777s stationed at London Gatwick to 10. This is itself something of an achievement for BA at London Gatwick bearing in mind the number of slots that now need occupying at Heathrow.
It is a little disappointing that BA has not chosen to use the extra capacity to launch a new route, particularly to the East where BA has previously expressed the potential for growth in long-haul leisure routes from London Gatwick. However, there is a logic in adding frequencies to routes not served by daily flights to increase the number of outbound/inbound options for passengers.
Of note is the increase in flights to Orlando, which increase once again to 13 weekly and has historically been something of a stronghold for Virgin Atlantic. It is also interesting to note there has been no increase in flights from London Gatwick to Las Vegas which remain at thrice weekly, and complemented by daily flights from London Heathrow.
Hopefully the trend of steady growth in BA’s long-haul leisure operation at Gatwick is one that will continue.