Some links to products and travel providers on this website will earn Traveling For Miles a commission that helps contribute to the running of the site. Traveling For Miles has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling For Miles and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. For more details please see the disclosures found at the bottom of every page.
Following a few weeks of rumors, Virgin Atlantic has now confirmed that it plans to launch a new service between London Heathrow and Tampa later this year as it continues to grow its post-pandemic route network.
The New Virgin Atlantic route to Tampa will officially launch on 2 November 2022 with a 4x/week service before ramping that up to a daily year-round service from 28 November 2022.
This is the schedule that Virgin Atlantic has announced:
VS129 LHR 13:25 – 18:35 TPA (Daily)
VS130 TPA 20:50 – 10:15+1 day LHR (Daily)
There’s nothing in the press release that I’ve seen that confirms what aircraft Virgin Atlantic plans to use for this new route and because the flights have yet to go on sale (bookings are expected to open on 13 July), there’s nothing showing on the Virgin Atlantic website or on ExpertFlyer…so I’ll have to speculate.
The odds probably favor Virgin using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to operate between Heathrow and Tampa but as the airline has a few A350s specially configured for the leisure market (one of these aircraft is currently operating on the Orlando route), there’s a chance that one of these will launch the new route.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that Virgin Atlantic is expecting to take delivery of three A330-900neo aircraft this year so depending on how the airline chooses to configure these aircraft, there’s an outside chance that one of these may be employed.
With Virgin already serving Miami and Orlando, it’s interesting to see the airline choosing to add a third Florida destination to its route map and choosing to go up against British Airways once again…but I think I get it.
BA only offers its Tampa service out of Gatwick while Virgin will offer its service out of Heathrow, and while BA has only scheduled a 5x/week service for winter 2022/23, Virgin Atlantic will offer a daily service, so these differences may be enough to win Virgin Atlantic enough business to make the route viable (it will be interesting to see if BA responds by adding more flights of its own).
Also, because neither Air France nor KLM currently operates a non-stop service to Tampa from their respective hubs, it’s possible that Virgin’s appraisal of this route’s viability includes an assumption that it will receive a certain amount of connecting traffic from its transatlantic joint venture partners.
Still, whatever Virgin’s reasons for launching this route, it’s good to see the airline giving it a go as the more transatlantic competition there is, the better things should be for consumers and that’s what we like to see 🙂
The rumors are over and confirmation has come in – Virgin Atlantic will launch a new year-round service to Tampa later this year. From 28 November 2022, the airline will offer a daily Tampa service from London Heathrow giving customers an alternative to the service currently offered out of Gatwick by British Airways.