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UPDATE 31 May 2016: Delta & Virgin Atlantic have now confirmed this route and dates for the route have been updated in the post below.
There’s been no announcement from Virgin Atlantic and, as far as I can tell there haven’t even been any rumors of this in the travel press but, according to the latest schedule update, Virgin Atlantic is launching a new non-stop flight between London and Seattle in 2017.
According to the Delta press release, Virgin Atlantic will begin daily service to Seattle from London Heathrow from 26 March 2017. The airline will be using its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners to operate the new route.
The schedule that has been filed looks like this……
VS105 LHR 11:00 – 13:20 SEA (Daily)
VS106 SEA 19:10 – 13:00+1 day LHR (Daily)
The Virgin Atlantic website hasn’t been updated to show this new route (neither had the Delta website for that matter) so Seattle still doesn’t appear as a destination that the airline serves with its own aircraft:
But, interestingly, not only is the London – Seattle route one that Virgin Atlantic’s partner, Delta, flys – as shown by this route map….
….but, also, the current Delta schedule for April 2017 (which is far out as it goes right now) is pretty similar to the schedule that Virgin Atlantic have just tentatively filed:
Based on this it would appear possible that Virgin Atlantic is taking over the route from Delta from May 2017. (Update: Now confirmed by Delta)
In the scheme of things this fits with Virgin Atlantic’s strategy (since 2014) of ceding routes around the world to concentrate on their partnership with Delta and on routes between the UK and the US.
Virgin Atlantic has looked at operating a route between London and Seattle in the past but, I suspect, it has been the introduction of the new (and efficient) Dreamliners that has finally made the route viable for the airline.
The Aircraft Swap
If Virgin Atlantic is indeed taking over the London – Seattle route from Delta, customers will be swapping a Delta 767-300 for a Virgin Atlantic 787-9 Dreamliner.
The headline differences are:
- Dreamliner has 5 fewer premium cabin seats than Delta’s 767
- Dreamliner Economy Class has narrower seats than Delta’s 767
- Dreamliner offers a true Premium Economy product with 38″ seat pitch and 21″ seat width – more spacious than Delta’s Comfort Plus by some distance.
- Dreamliner offers a less dense premium class cabin (Upper Class v Delta One) with wider seats.
Presumably both Virgin Atlantic and Delta will make their own announcements about this in the next few days so I’ll keep this post updated with the news as it comes in. (Update: Announcement made 31 May 2016)
Delta’s flyers will still be able to earn and burn SkyMiles on the London – Seattle route but, although Delta and Virgin are partners, Delta status isn’t recognised on Virgin Atlantic so that could be a downside to this news for a number of people.
[HT: Routes Online]
Featured image: Mark Harkin via Flickr