a plane flying in the sky

$50 million ain’t cheap…

Operating an airline all hinges on one single principle: airplanes. You need them. Virgin Atlantic was an early customer of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, a revolutionary aircraft improving passenger experience– but a mercurial aircraft for airline maintenance. Virgin is experiencing continued problems with their 787 Dreamliners – and it’s causing serious issues for upcoming flights…

a row of chairs in a planeThe What

Essentially – this all boils down to engine problems. Virgin Atlantic chose Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines for their 787 Dreamliners and they’ve been unreliable to say the least. In years past, they gave Japanese airline ANA similar problems. The engines, which run $50 million a pop, have forced the grounding of many Virgin Atlantic 787 aircraft – leading to uncertainty and scheduling problems for passengers and airline alike. The airline is warning travel agents of potential for disruption.

a plane flying in the skyThe Why

Virgin Atlantic are forced to lease (borrow) aircraft to keep up their flight schedules, without cancelling flights. While this is better than cancelled flights, they won’t quite be Virgin Atlantic flights. There will not be Premium Economy on board. Business class is also unlikely to be on par with Upper Class, and certainly will not offer an on board bar. Virgin Atlantic crews and pilots will however operate the flights, with their top notch service. The problem is uncertainty. If you’re presently scheduled to fly on a 787 Dreamliner – your reservation is subject to change.

a group of people in uniformThe How

Without premium economy, some passengers will be downgraded, and those in business class will experience a different cabin – for better or worse. If you’re presently scheduled to fly on a 787 Dreamliner, to destinations such as Miami, Los Angeles, Shanghai, Boston, Seattle, Hong Kong, Delhi and New York – you’ll need to monitor your reservation. Here’s how. If an aircraft change occurs, you have rights- such as politely requesting a different flight. Here’s everything you need to know to make things right. We love Virgin Atlantic, think their Premium Economy is one of the best and wish them luck with their engine fixes.

Do you have a Virgin Atlantic 787 flight coming up?

HT: Paxex.Aero

Featured Image Copyright: jarekk / 123RF Stock Photo

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. The plural of Dreamliner does not have an apostrophe. It’s “Dreamliners”, not “Dreamliner’s”.


  2. Seems it is a problem with their tech. services or poor management. Why is BA not suffering the same problems? Or are they (They are hardly a well run outfit)? Virgin isn’t the only airline with RR engines.

  3. BA are encountering the same problems. However they are a much larger airline with a bigger fleet and can more easily cover the grounded 787s with the other aircraft they have.

  4. Just travelled BOS – LHR – BOS on Nov 27 and return Dec 4 on Virgin Atlantic’s Airbus A330s, and both were equipment changed from Boeing 787s. Even the young flight attendant acknowledged “maintenance issues.”

  5. Indeed Rolls Royce managed to certify an ill designed engine that is unsafe and yet passed through the certification tests in the United Kingdom (surprise surprise).

    RR alread had certified an unsafe engine on the 777 that susequently led to the crash of a BA 777 just short of the runway at Heathrow due to fuel freezing and starvation.(This engine variant was also certified in the UK).

    Virgin chose the 787-10 equipped with higher power rating RR engines.
    The HP turbine stage on this variant has a design flaw which makes it melt after a few hundreds of hours, with turbine blades and vanes cracking and breaking up, litterally destroying the engines hP ring set and causing the affected engines to be shut down mid flight.

    This aircraft variant is at risk of losing an engine at a totally unpredictable state of engine age despite regular boroscopic inspections. It is practically unsafe to keep,them flying, hence the grounding of those airframes and their upcoming replacemnt with reliable airbus 330.

  6. I have a scheduled 787 flight but they have changed to A330.
    I am a big fan of the 787 and remember when she had her first flight, sucks because I was looking forward to finally on her but I guess this is good because they want to be safe. That is terrible!

  7. I’ve just done a return flight from Miami. Outgoing in Premium on an A330-200 (nicknamed the hairdryer) it was very comfortable, staff excellent as ever but SLOW! Coming back on an A340-600 in economy, old entertainment system, staff not as friendly, food awful and they admitted that they were short staffed. Not as good as it used to be.

  8. Recently returned from New York and unfortunately we had a really poor experience even the cabin staff suggested we complain. As the staff told us we were on the oldest plane in the fleet and it was tired certainly not worth the premium we paid for the upgrade. Virgin did offer a goodwill gesture in the form of vouchers but only to be used if we booked throughout their call centre where the price was more than online even after the voucher discount so in reality no good will at all and still advertising the Dreamliner is available

  9. I’m scheduled to fly LAX to LHR in May. Hopefully they get caught up with maintenance. I have been on their A340 and A330 and didn’t like flying on those planes. I rather fly Deltas’ 767 then Virgins Airbuses. I noticed that Virgins’ 787 now offers extra legroom seats in Economy and quickly booked myself into one of those seats. No need for me to fly Premium, airfare to London was cheaper than going to New York!

  10. Just flown Virgin Atlantic to Miami on an A330, ex Air Berlin. It should have been a Dreamliner which we have flown on quite comfortably on previous flights to Miami.
    The A330 was terrible, unconfortable seats, less legroom, very poor air quality, I have had cold symptons since. The seatback touch screens are useless, having to pound them to get them to work. Crew looked as tired as the aircraft. Worst thing now is looking forward to having to return on this scrapheap.

  11. Im booked to Grenada and always fly prem econ..now told its upper or economy only.so dissappointing to hear of these isues.I am also a virgin freq flyer and since this lease issue came about it seems harder to spend my miles.i am also looking at Hong Kong for January which i see is a 787..i will wait for outcome.!!

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