Virgin Atlantic 747 Services Ending Sooner & Vueling Adds Another Gatwick Route

Virgin Atlantic Brings Forward The Last Heathrow 747 Service

Virgin Atlantic are clearly in a hurry to send their Boeing 747-400 aircraft to the boneyard. Originally the last Virgin Atlantic 747 services out of Heathrow were scheduled for 17 & 19 April 2016…but that was brought forward to 20 & 21 February in August of this year. Now the airline has announced that its last 747-400 flights out of Heathrow will take place on 12 & 13 January 2016.

On 11 January the Heathrow – Miami route will see its last Virgin Airlines 747 flight:

VS005 LHR 13:15 – 18:05 MIA
VS006 MIA 2:115 – 10:45+1 day LHR

And, on 12 January the Heathrow – New York (JFK) route will be the final 747-400 Virgin Atlantic flight out of Heathrow:

VS009 LHR 16:00 – 19:05 JFK
VS010 JFK 21:30 – 09:35+1 day LHR

Going forward, the Heathrow – Miami route will be served by a mix of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and Airbus A330-300 aircraft while the Heathrow – JFK route will get a mix of 787-9 Dreamliners and the larger Airbus A340-600 aircraft.

This isn’t the end of Virgin Atlantic’s connection with the 747 as they’ll continue to fly 747 aircraft from their Gatwick base – but those planes’ days are numbered too.

Apart from the fact that it will be sad to see the last of Virgin Atlantic’s 747 depart Heathrow, this news will be significant for anyone who booked tickets on these routes before the aircraft change was announced.

If you’re flying with Virgin Atlantic to Miami or New York in the first quarter of 2016, check your seat allocations because the seat maps for the 747-400s look nothing like the seat maps of the aircraft taking over the route. Exit seats are in different seat rows and just because you originally selected an aisle seat doesn’t guarantee that that’s what you will still have.

Virgin Atlantic 747A Virgin Atlantic 747-400 – Image courtesy of Mark Harkin via Flickr

Vueling To Fly Paris – London Gatwick Service

Vueling is the Spanish-based low-cost carrier owned by IAG Group, the parent company of British Airways, Iberia and, now, Aer Lingus. And this means that there are opportunities for earning and burning Avios on the airline – although it’s not exactly simple!

First the new route…

Commencing 5 May 2016 Vueling will use an Airbus A320 aircraft to fly between Paris CDG and London Gatwick on the following schedule:

VY8772 CDG 20:20 – 20:40 LGW
VY8773 LGW 21:25 – 23:40 CDG

The route will be flown 6 times a week (no service on Sundays)

Avios opportunities – Earning:

  • The cheapest flights booked directly with the airline are the true low-cost tickets which don’t come with any add-ons (like seat assignment or baggage allowances) – these fares do not qualify for Avios earning.
  • Flights booked via the Iberia website will cost more (because they’re sold with the extras normally associated with full-service airlines) but they will qualify to earn Avios in an Iberia Plus account.
  • BritishAirways.com will also sell you a ticket on Vueling (although, for some reason not all routes show up on BA.com) and, just like with Iberia, the prices will be higher than on the low-cost carrier’s own website. These tickets will accrue Avios into a British Airways Executive Club account.

Avios opportunities – Redeeming:

This is a lot more simple than the “earning” section above. Only Avios from an Iberia Plus account can be used for flights on Vueling.

Vueling offers non-stop flights out of both Heathrow and Gatwick airports and, while the destinations are currently limited to 3 countries, it’s still worth bearing them in mind if you’re an Avios collector.

Vueling Destinations From LondonVueling’s non-stop destinations from London – screenshot from Vueling.com

Clearly you’re not about to become an Avios millionaire from flying on Vueling, but then British Airways is hardly handing out Avios in any great quantities on these routes either.

Vueling is often the forgotten option when it comes to low-cost flights out of the UK but, with the cheapest return fares to Paris currently starting from around $105/£67/€95 (May 2016) they’re definitely an option that’s worth considering.