Virgin Atlantic Delays Deployment of 787-9 On Dubai Route & Norwegian Updates Gatwick 787-9 Routes

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Virgin Atlantic Delays Dreamliner Deployment To Dubai

This is another of those “check your bookings and seat assignments” stories as Virgin Atlantic changes its mind about when it will replace the Airbus A330-300 flying its London Heathrow – Dubai summer schedule.

Last we’d heard, Virgin Atlantic was scheduled to commence 787-9 Dreamliner operations to Dubai from 21 July but that date appears to have gone by the wayside as the A330 is now scheduled to keep flying the route through to 30 October (which is when the Dreamliner is now scheduled to take over).

Luckily, because of the nature of the equipment swap, no one will find themselves frozen out of the cabin they booked into – the A330 has more Upper Class Seats (33 vs 31) and more Premium Economy Seats (48 vs 35) than the 787-9 Dreamliner.  And, as I strongly doubt the Economy Class cabin was even half full this far out, the fact that the A330 has 13 less Economy Class seats should have no effect whatsoever.

No one is losing out on seat space either as Virgin has configured both aircraft with identical seat specifications:


The principle difference between the two cabins appears to be in the Upper Class cabin where the A330’s configuration looks a bit more crowded than that of the 787-9 because of how the seat are set out:

virgin-atlantic-A330-300upper-class--seat-mapVirgin Atlantic Airbus A330-300 Upper Class Cabin

virgin-atlantic-787-9-upper-class-seat-mapVirgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Upper Class Cabin

For anyone who’s booked on this route this is the schedule that is affected:

VS400 LHR 21:55 – 08:00+1 day DXB
VS401 DXB 11:10 – 15:55 LHR

Norwegian Reveals Plans For 787-9 Dreamliner

It looks as if, for the time being at least, passengers from London’s Gatwick Airport will be the big beneficiaries of Norwegian’s new 787-9 Dreamliners.

In an update to their schedule a couple of days ago Norwegian scheduled their 787-9 Dreamliners on 5 of their Gatwick routes:

London Gatwick – New York JFK

From 27 March 2016 Norwegian is scheduled to use the 787-9 on this route 4x per week increasing to a daily service from 12 May 2016.

A quick look at Norwegian’s website shows round-trip prices for this route at around £300/$450 before any extras such as seat assignments and checked baggage.

London Gatwick – Los Angeles

From 28 March 2016 Norwegian will fly the 787-9 on their Los Angeles route 2x per week, increasing to 3x per week from 10 May 2016 until finally becoming a 4x per week service from 2 September 2016

The best round-trip prices that I’ve found so far start at around £380/$570 before extras.


London Gatwick – Ft. Lauderdale

From 11 May 2016 Norwegian will fly this route just once per week.

Surprisingly, this route is coming out at not that much less than the Los Angeles route with prices from around £360/$540.

London Gatwick – Oakland

Norwegian will offer a twice weekly service on this route from 1 September 2016.

With round-trip prices from around £450/$675 this route costs exactly the same as the Los Angeles route (at the same time of year) – I was hoping to see this route as a “cheaper option” to the west coast but I’m not sure that’s what it’s going to turn out to be.

London Gatwick – Boston

Another good way to get to the east coast with Norwegian scheduled to fly this route with a 787-9 twice a week from 4 September 2016.

Round trip prices on this route appear to start at around £359/$538 which is marginally cheaper than the New York flights at the same time of year (September).

Bottom Line

It’s worth bearing in mind two things:

  • All these dates could change so don’t book your flights just because you think you’ll be getting a brand new Dreamliner for your trip.
  • All these prices are just the base fare – if you want to take checked luggage, have a meal or select seats the price will go up….quite a bit. So make sure you price up exactly how much Norwegian will be charging you and compare it to the full service airlines on a like for like basis.

I love that Norwegian are starting up these routes because, with a bit of luck, it will keep pressure on the full service airlines not to take their passengers for granted. Having said that, I’m not seeing any bargains amongst these prices so I think I’ll wait for a sale before I get too excited about a new option from Gatwick to the US.

Featured Image: Paul Lucas via Flickr


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