a group of medical face masks and a pack of wipes

Virgin Atlantic has announced plans to resume flying passengers again, from July 20th. Cheers to that. When the airline does resume flying, like all airlines, the experience will be a little different. Now, we know how. For starters, each guest will receive an amenity kit with masks, wipes and gel to keep everyone safe. Importantly, it’s not just for passengers in one end of the plane or the other.

Here’s what to expect from Virgin Atlantic’s new meal service, as well as safety measures in the airport and on board, and yes – you’ll still get a hot meal, if you want one…

Virgin Atlantic At The Airport

Virgin Atlantic plans to use floor markers on the ground to help people keep social distancing wherever possible as the airline reboots passenger flights in late July to New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Among travelers greatest present concerns are close interactions with others, and to tackle this key issue, any touch points, such as check in kiosks are to regularly be wiped down, and customers are asked to wear a mask once inside. Better yet, many touch points are being eliminated.

In a logical step to reduce physical contact, Virgin Atlantic will have passengers hold up their own passport and or boarding pass, rather than handing it over to a member of staff. By most accounts, the fewer people that touch your stuff, the better right now…

a group of people standing in a room with a woman wearing a face maskUntil covid-19 is in the rear view mirror, Virgin Atlantic will board 10 customers at a time. Tthe move will ensure that no one stands around tightly confined areas, such as the aisle of a plane for too long. When 10 people make it to their seats, the next 10 can board.

The airline also plans to block seats around people to create distancing on board wherever possible, stating….

“You may notice that some seats are left empty for spacing on your flight. We are doing what we can to keep seats empty between travellers on separate bookings. Please mind the gap as you sit down.”

So what about lounges? Virgin Atlantic is rumored to be working on temporary solutions for lounge access, in the time until home base at Terminal 3 reopens. Currently, Terminal 3 at Heathrow is not in use, and Virgin Atlantic will operate out of London Heathrow Terminal 2 until further notice. The sooner the 14 day quarantine plans are nixed, the sooner airlines will be able to operate at a level closer to a new normality.

In outposts such as New York JFK, eligible passengers would still have access to Delta Sky Club’s, which remain open with solid service, including waiter service for drinks. Everyone loves a Clubhouse, but something is better than nothing in the interim.

Virgin Atlantic: On Board

Unlike some competitors, Virgin Atlantic specifically states face masks will be mandatory, at least in the interim as the world looks to recover from covid-19. Also unlike many other airlines, they’re giving all customers 3 masks, wipes and gels to take full control of their environment and help protect others.

Masks are said to only be effective for 4 hours of use, so the move puts best health advice practices in the hands of passengers.

In addition, hot meals will still be served in all cabins, which the airline states as being a part of being “most loved”, in a time when other airlines are drastically cutting offerings beyond health and safety concerns, purely to save cash.

One interesting distinction is that planes will be cleaned and decontaminated after every flight, whereas many low cost airlines state plans to clean planes once daily, after they finish service. For long haul flying, this is a very important differentiator.

a group of medical face masks and a pack of wipesIf you want to risk making yourself or someone around you sick, by refusing to wear one for any reason other than an medical inability to, fly another airline. The theory with masks has always been that they’re most effective if everyone wears one, and this move ensures everyone does their part. By providing one of medical grade, it takes a lot of the “ask” out of the equation.

As to hot food, customers are said to expect a sealed meal in a simplified place setting, but it’ll still be an actual meal with substance, not just a little snack. Meals will be sealed at the secure catering facility, to ensure safety.

There’s no question that flying will be different, at least for a few months, but it’s nice to see that Virgin Atlantic isn’t bailing on bringing a solid value proposition to customers. As travel bans lift and flying reemerges, safety will be the most important initial concern to prevent secondary spikes, and providing masks, wipes and other hygiene elements put the airline among the best in the business.

For an airline with branding and style at its heart, one can only hope Virgin Atlantic will take medical grade masks to the next step, with designer patterns to make them useful and reusable long after the flight is over. I did love that my Etsy mask stole the show from my trip last week ; )…

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. Great to see some clear direction and positivity from VS. No plans to fly with with them until the Spring – be interested in how things evolve in the meantime, if at all.

  2. Fantastic summary, great points of differentiation and glad it’s written in a tone that cares for the wellbeing of everyone. Keep it up!

  3. It is great to see and hear the VS is doing its best to secure pax safety and well being on board. I am still not won by that. I still expect that premium services and catering should be back soon, otherwise I do not see the sense in paying premium fare for a very simplified service, I dare to say..Economy class..

  4. Superb I always fly VS and knew VS take their responsibility about customer safety seriously, by putting this measures I think while flying in August/September I will be so relaxed as going with my elderly MIL

  5. Hi.all.
    Good to hear a clear concisely pointed message. I have flown with virgin from the beginning and services have always been bright.
    Look forward to flying on September 3 to los Angeles.
    Ho..will you be having a full drinks menu.
    Kind regards Kalle.

  6. Very pleased to receive this information today, and to know that VS are doing their best to keep us safe when flying with them. I have a flight booked in Oct to Orlando, when might you be flying to Las Vegas, another favourite destination of mine that is not yet listed

  7. well done virgin hope the other airlines learn how to look after their customers and hopefully keep everyone safe

  8. Would like to think we.will be able to fly again to St Lucia. Will you keep other Caribbean destinations in future plans. We have always flown regularly with you and don’t want to have to resort to BA!

  9. Happy knowing Virgin Atlantic is taking control of the way in which we will be flying into the new norm. Obviously, those who choose not to comply can fly via another airline. For those of us, and there are thousands, who choose Virgin Atlantic as our preferred destination airline, the security of arriving as safely as possible is paramount. Thank you Virgin Atlantic. Looking forward to flying with you soon.

  10. I won’t be wearing disgusting face masks which harbour all kinds of toxic gum disease among other pleasantries. I’d sooner not fly, but then I’d never fly with this shower of shite anyway.

  11. Nice to have an update. I’ve been wondering about my Aug/Sept. flights. I’m just really hoping they will be returning to SFO by then!

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