Virgin Atlantic, like many airlines, found a new groove during covid-19. The airline was one of the first and most nimble to adapt to the unprecedented demand for cargo, and managed to keep its iconic red tails touching down in many international gateways over the past few months, albeit with with ferrari’s and lobsters, and without any passengers on board.
As an airline focused on customer service and passenger experience, it’s undoubtedly been odd, if not essential. But now, as countries shift focus to safely reopen travel and bring back the visitors which make international commerce flow, Virgin Atlantic is less than a month away from flying passengers again. The question is where, and when. We’ve got those answers.
Virgin Atlantic’s first passenger flight will link London with one of the airlines longest held routes, with service to Hong Kong. From there, a phased reopening of routes will begin, albeit with significantly reduced frequency. In other words: think 5 weekly flights to New York, rather than at least five daily flights, at least at first.
Here’s a breakdown of when and where Virgin Atlantic plans to fly this summer and into autumn, provided no significant global setbacks related to the pandemic occur. The flights will largely be operated by Virgin Atlantic’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350 fleet, bringing the most fuel efficient, but also most passenger friendly aircraft into the mix.
|20th July 2020||London Heathrow to Hong Kong|
|21st July 2020||London Heathrow to New York JFK, Los Angeles|
|1st August 2020||London Heathrow to Barbados|
|4th August 2020||London Heathrow to Shanghai|
|4th August 2020||London Heathrow to San Francisco|
|9th August 2020||London Heathrow to Tel Aviv|
|18th August 2020||London Heathrow to Miami|
|23rd August 2020||London Heathrow to Lagos|
|24th August 2020||London Heathrow and Manchester to Orlando (subject to CDC approval*)|
|25th August 2020||London Heathrow to Atlanta|
|September 2020||London Heathrow to Washington, Seattle, Las Vegas|
|September 2020||London Heathrow to Mumbai, Delhi|
|September 2020||London Heathrow to Johannesburg|
|October 2020||London Heathrow to Boston|
|October 2020||London Heathrow to Montego Bay, Antigua, Grenada and Tobago (via Antigua)|
|October 2020||Manchester to Barbados|
Reading between the lines, Virgin Atlantic’s relaunch plan appears to offer positive news not only for airline fans, but for fans of quite a few destinations too. Rumors have been strong that Israel would begin a phased reopening to international visitors circa August, and the August 9th reboot of London Heathrow – Tel Aviv flights would be a strong indicator that those in the know are being told to expect timelines along these lines.
The same could be said fro Barbados, Nigeria, India or the United States.
Passengers can expect travel to feel a bit like a first date for the interim, but some first dates are just the spark for a lifetime of happiness. Masks take some getting used to, as does keeping distance during boarding, but Virgin Atlantic is making efforts to keep at least most of the fun. The airline says it will offers…
- Proactive health screening (via questionnaire and verbal interviews) all our customers and denying boarding if any questions are answered positively.
- Encouraging customers to use hand sanitizer stations at the check in and gate area
- Advocating for the use of temperature checks to be administered upon arrival at the airport for the safety of all our customers and people, working closely with our airport partners to implement this.
- Adhering to social distancing measures at check in and boarding gates to limit the number of customers in queues to avoid crowding.
- Encouraging customers to check in 24 hours before or use the self-serve check in and bag drop to minimise contact. All check in areas and surfaces will be cleaned regularly with high-grade products, tested to be effective against viruses.
- Working closely with our colleagues at the airports to ensure customers are safe as they pass through security. Security trays will be wiped after use, security teams will be wearing masks and customers can expect reduced lanes in this area to ensure social distancing.
- All the seating and gate area around boarding will be sanitised to a high standard to offer customers peace of mind as they wait to board their flight.
- Boarding will be limited to 10 customers at a time, starting from the back of the aircraft to minimise contact between customers.
- On boarding, all customers will be asked to scan their own boarding pass and hold up their passport for inspection to minimize contact.
- All of our people will be wearing face masks when in close contact with our customers.
- Where possible, ensuring our customers have space onboard. Some seats will not be available and they will be marked with special pillows.
- Providing everyone flying with us with a Health Pack – a PPE kit with medical grade masks, surface wipes and hand sanitizer. All customers and our crew will be required to wear their masks for the duration of the flight.
- Temporarily removing some onboard items including Vera, our inflight magazine and our retail therapy service, to minimize contact between customers. Customers can still use our pre-order service from our great range of products in advance of their flight.
- We will be offering a simplified hot food service in Economy and Premium Economy, enclosed from preparation in a Covid-safe, monitored environment directly to our customers’ seats. Upper Class customers will receive a choice of hot meals, desserts, including cheese & biscuits, which will be delivered to their seat on a tray.
- Serving a temporary limited alcohol offering in all cabins.
- Meticulous cleaning measures have been put in place, disinfecting the aircraft before each flight, using hospital grade, registered disinfecting product, tested to be highly effective against viruses.
- Fogging (electrostatic spraying) of high-grade disinfectant in all our cabins before every flight.
- Dedicated isolation areas in place on each flight for any customers or crew who may potentially present symptoms onboard.
- All air going through highly effective High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters that remove dust, allergens, bacteria, viruses and other particles from cabin air (testing shows a removal efficiency of 99.999%). As a result the cabin environment is one of the safest environments due to the vertical air circulation and filtration, with all air going
There’s no doubt that after months of lockdown, passports will be burning a hole in the pocket of many travelers, and if you happen to have enough cash or points left over after all the wine to survive lockdown, a getaway might be just the refresh you deserve.