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In a recent schedule update, Virgin Atlantic has reversed a decision taken back in February which saw California lose the prospect of getting a new A350 route and it has added a further A350 flight to a city already served by the airline’s flagship aircraft. If the schedules don’t change again (admittedly that’s a very big “if”), California will be getting a lot more A350 service from Virgin Atlantic starting from this fall.
- London – San Francisco Gets A350-1000 service
- Los Angeles Gets More A350-1000 service
- Why New Virgin Atlantic A350-1000 Routes Matter
London – San Franciso Gets A350-1000 Service
Prior to a schedule change made towards the end of February, Virgin Atlantic was set to offer A350-1000 service between London And San Francisco from May of this year and the A350-1000 was set to continue flying between London and San Francisco through the 2020/2021 winter season. Sadly, Covid-19 put an end to those plans and the A350-1000 disappeared from all of Virgin’s London – San Francisco flights.
Now, in a schedule change that appeared in the systems yesterday (15 June), Virgin Atlantic has brought back the A350 on to its San Francisco route…albeit from March 2021.
From 28 March 2021, Virgin Atlantic will operate two daily flights between London and San Francisco with the later flight being operated by the airline’s A350-1000. Here’s the planned schedule:
VS19 LHR 12:00 – 15:00 SFO B787-9 (Daily)
VS41 LHR 18:15 – 21:25 SFO A350-1000 (Daily)
VS20 SFO 16:30 – 10:45+1 day LHR B787-9 (Daily)
VS42 SFO 22:55 – 17:15+1 day LHR A350-1000 (Daily)
The A350-1000 is scheduled to operate in this route for a long as the current schedules allow.
Los Angeles Gets More A350-1000 Service
Los Angeles was the second city ever to get A350-1000 service from Virgin Atlantic when the aircraft started to operate between London and LAX back in March. Unsurprisingly, once the current pandemic took hold and flights began to be canceled, Virgin Atlantic closed down its route to Los Angeles and that was the end of the A350 service to California.
According to the current schedules, Virgin Atlantic will resume operations between London and Los Angeles from 21 July 2020 with a 3x/week service operated with a mix of 787-9 and A350-1000 aircraft. The service is set to go daily from 1 August 2020 (again with a mix of aircraft) and the A350-1000 is set to operate all 7 flights on this route from 22 September.
From 28 March 2021 Virgin Atlantic will be adding a second A350 to this route, and that will see the airline operating 13 of its 17 weekly flights with its flagship aircraft.
Here’s the schedule from 28 March 2021:
VS7 LHR 11:00 – 14:00 LAX (Daily) A350-1000*
VS143 LHR 13:25 – 16:45 LAX (Mon, Thur & Sat) B787-9
VS23 LHR 18:00 – 21:10 LAX (Daily) A350-1000
VS8 LAX 16:10 – 10:50+1 day LHR A350-1000*
VS144 LAX 19:00 – 13:20+1 day LHR (Mon, Thu & Sat) B787-9
VS24 LAX 22:55 – 17:10+1 day LHR (Daily) A530-1000
*Flight operated by a B787-9 on Mondays
Why New Virgin Atlantic A350-1000 Routes Matter
Virgin Atlantic is a fun airline to fly with, its aircraft are crewed by some of the nicest people in the sky, it (mostly) offers the best Premium Economy seating across the Atlantic, and it offers a good Economy Class “extra legroom” section on most of its flights. In many ways, Virgin Atlantic is a great choice of airline for someone looking to fly between the US and the UK.
For Business Class passengers, however, Virgin Atlantic is a terrible choice because the Business Class cabins on most of the airline’s aircraft (referred to by Virgin as its “Upper Class” cabins) are among the worst cabins you’ll find offered by a major transatlantic carrier. I dislike them with a passion (review).
Fortunately, if you love flying in Business Class and love flying with Virgin Atlantic but cannot stand the idea of spending any time in Virgin’s Upper Class cabin, salvation comes in the form of the airline’s new Airbus A350 aircraft which comes with a new Business Class cabin that’s orders of magnitude better than the abomination offered on the rest of the fleet. The Upper Class “Suite” is the Business Class seat that could be a game-changer for Virgin Atlantic.
With the new Upper Class suite, Virgin Atlantic finally has a competitive Business Class product to go alongside all the other positive aspects to the airline and it gives Virgin Atlantic a real fighting chance at prying away some high-value customers from its arch-rival, British Airways.
It’s especially interesting to note that, at the time of writing, there is still no sign of the British Airways A350 (the aircraft offering BA’s new and highly improved Business Class seat) on the London Los Angeles route and, as this is one of the more “premium heavy” routes in the world, that’s more than a little strange. More importantly, that’s very good news for Virgin Atlantic as it makes it the clear choice (between in and BA) for Business Class flyers looking to fly between LA and London.
The one bit of bad news that has to accompany any announcement that the Virgin Atlantic A350 is appearing on a new route is the news that the Premium Economy offering will be getting worse. Most of Virgin’s fleet operates with old but excellent Premium Economy seating (review) while the A350 is fitted with an all-new Premium Economy seat which is narrower and no better than the majority of Premium Economy seats offered by the other major transatlantic airlines.
The Virgin Atlantic A350-1000 will be reappearing on the London – Los Angeles routes from next month, a second A350-1000 will join it from the end of March next year, and the London San Francisco route is seeing the A350-1000 reinstated as of 28 March 2021. If you’re based in California, like Virgin Atlantic and love flying in Business Class, this is all very good news for you.