New Virgin routes – Manchester to New York, Heathrow to Seattle – plus Delta starts Portland

Virgin Atlantic announced two new routes on Tuesday and the move to Delta of two others.

This is part of what is becoming an annual rejig of its US network alongside its 49% shareholder Delta.  As far as I can tell, none of the non-US routes (eg Dubai, Shanghai) are impacted.  We may have the end of the culling of the eastbound routes for now.

This is what is happening:

Virgin Atlantic to launch Manchester to New York JFK

This replaces the current Delta service.  This is a hugely sensible thing to do as the Virgin brand has more impact in Manchester than Delta.

Virgin Atlantic to launch London Heathrow to Seattle

This replaces the existing Delta service.

Virgin Atlantic 787

Delta to launch a 3rd daily London Heathrow to Atlanta

This replaces the existing Virgin Atlantic service.

Delta to launch a 2nd daily flight from London Heathrow to Detroit (3 days per week)

This replaces the existing Virgin Atlantic service, which only recently launched.  There were plenty of doubters at the time about the ex-UK demand for Detroit.

Delta to launch a brand new service from London Heathrow to Portland Oregan (4 days per week)

This is a new route starting in late May.  It will be part of the Virgin codeshare agreement so you will be able to earn Virgin Flying Club miles and tier points from it.

The Seattle and Detroit changes are permanent.  The Manchester – JFK and Heathrow – Atlanta changes are only scheduled to operated for the Summer season.

Logically, services where most of the traffic will start in the UK should be flown by Virgin Atlantic.  Services where most of the traffic will start in the USA should be flown by Delta.  These changes make sense from that angle.  The fact that Virgin offers a Premium Economy cabin – which is a hugely profitable part of the aircraft – presumably also has an impact on who flies where.

In total, Virgin and Delta will offer 42 daily flights from the UK to the USA in Summer 2017.

New York launches on 25th May and can be booked from 23rd June.  Seattle launches on 26th March and can be booked from today.

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

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  1. Shame Portland OregOn isn’t a VAA route as it’s a nice city to visit :)

    • I thought Oregan was the name of the airport when I first read it….

    • mikeact says:

      The whole area, particularly the coast is absolutely fabulous. Our favourite part of the US, apart from Alaska.

    • Hopefully Delta might switch this route to VAA in future, as they have with Seattle – it would be an opportunity for Virgin to offer a direct US destination which a lot of UK people might not’ve previously considered (the way BA has with Austin Texas)

  2. Balls – I frequently use Virgin into the US at Detroit. Very light loads (plenty of room on board) and almost non-existant immigration queue. Will have to decide whether to transfer to the Delta service or find an alternative US transit point between the UK and Indianapolis.

    • I have frequently flown on Delta services into Detroit – primarily, almost all passengers are US citizens so the immigration queue is no longer for UK citizens arriving into the USA. Just try not to arrive at the same time as those from the Far East as their arrival into the USA takes a lot longer and clogs up the system somewhat…

      • Oh! Matron! says:

        I love flying in to Detroit. No immigration queues, and possibly one of the nicest US airports.

        Even the Delta lounges aren’t bad (Using a very small yardstick, given how poor US lounges tend to be generally)

  3. I’m always pleased to see new international routes from regional airports like Manchester so this is good news. Just a slight pity that Virgin have chosen a destination like New York that is already pretty well served from there. Still, more competition can usually only be good for passengers.

    • James A says:

      They are also launching San Francisco and Boston from Manchester next year.

      Quietly building quite a selection of routes from MAN actually, with up to 6 VS departures per day from MAN next year, with the suggestion that they aren’t done yet!

      Makes flying club a more attractive prospect being MAN based I have to say.

      • I agree. The BAPP may be retired next year.
        It also directly contradicts the recent comments by BA’s new CEO about long-haul from MAN only flying to tourist destinations.

  4. Will Virgin no longer be flying to Atlanta?

    • I was getting worried reading the above that my upcoming summer VS ATL flight would be shifted to Delta…. I tracked down the official release.

      This is the relevant part of the release pertaining to Atlanta:

      “The airline [Delta] will fly a third London Heathrow to Atlanta frequency, taking over the second daily service currently operated by Virgin Atlantic, beginning May 25, 2017. Virgin Atlantic will continue to operate one daily London Heathrow to Atlanta service.”


      • That’s great as we are planning another road trip for Aug/Sept next year flying into Atlanta – hoping to go UC and use the Clubhouse at LHR.

        • Scallder says:

          Liz – where are you looking at doing a road trip to? Currently investigating this myself for next April and hoping to do a large loop to Nashville, Memphis, Jackson, New Orleans and Birmingham so any tips/suggestions would be greatly received.

          If you Google Deep South USA there’s a very informative website about the 5/6 states in the area and I’ve just received some brochures on them all so that might be of some help if you haven’t already found it

          • We are doing Chicago, Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans, Houston this Aug/Sept. 28 day Route 66 with detours trip April/May 17. Planning to fly in to Atlanta go over to,Savannah, up through the Carolina’s back to see Washington again and surrounding areas like Gettysburg (last visit we didn’t have a car) and maybe finish in NY. I’ve bought a travel book on Georgia and the Carolinas but not read it yet -Still researching this years trip but hotels etc all booked. RTS 66 also mainly planned out. Got to book my return flight for Rte 66 on Sat Morning! Have enough miles for UC and can upgrade vouchers from credit card which should appear in my our account soon.

            • Sounds like some fab trips you’ve got coming up, Liz! :)

            • John ABZ says:

              Highly recommend Savannah. Went via there on route back to Atlanta couple of years ago. Lovely little city, that runs free downtown bus route loop for tourists. Re New Orleans, Louisianna state runs a sales tax refund shopping initiative for tourists if you didn’t know. Do any shopping there.

            • Scallder says:

              Sounds Amazing Liz. Unfortunately can only get 2 weeks off from work, so using the late Easter and May bank holiday to get 18 nights in with 10 days off work, and hopefully courtesy of the SPG Amex and IHG Accelerate and Premium Visa should be able to get every night on points :)

              John ABZ – I didn’t know that re Louisiana sales tax so will definitely investigate – thanks for the tip!

            • A friend had recommended Savannah also so that will be on our list to visit. I will take note about the sales tax in LOuisanna!

            • I’m trying to get as many of our 28 nights for Rte 66 on pts – hoping to stay 1st night in luxury on a free night then we are looking at cheaper pts options along the way plus a couple of free nights via rewards – may only need to pay for about 6 nights in total – still working on it. Hubby retiring early in 10 weeks – not that we are counting ….. So we will be able to take some longer trips from next year onwards!

          • I buy travel books and the Rand McNally state maps for every state and just sit and read and plan what we like. We normally cover about 2500 miles in each trip. Currently reading up on New Orleans.

      • Thanks for tracking that down. May prove harder to book the reward seats now.

      • Scallder says:

        Phew – thanks for posting that

        • Scallder says:

          Damn phone…thanks for posting that Adey – have reward seats booked on Virgin to do a round trip next April to Atlanta and was suddenly rather worried when reading the article in my emails!

    • VS103/104 and VS109/110 will remain on VS metal.

      • I’m on VS116 (the 20.40) from ATL to LHR in October. This is the second VS flight of the day from ATL. Is the implication that this will now be a DL flight?

        • See my earlier post. The press release I tracked down dated the changes May 25th 2017.


  5. Virgin UC class is a great product, esp on the Dreamliner. Took that from LHR-JFK earlier in the year. It’s just a shame that award flights in UC don’t also include the chauffeur pickup.

  6. Professor Yaffle says:

    Wow, 19 years away from VS – hopefully you will be pleasantly surprised.

    Personally I have moved all of my travel away from BA towards VS, for a number of reasons – better service, nicer cabins, better reward availability (I have found Avios to be next to useless for the past few years. If your flying is mainly UK-US, VS is a far superior choice IMHO.

    • I was down at Crawley last year and had a play in their 787 mock up cabin so I know what I’m getting!

    • Yeah, I have to agree with this. Virgin does have a better all round product than BA – cabins, staff (both at booking and in-flight), lounges, availablity (especially so in the school holidays) etc. The main problem is that they serve so few destinations. However, when I am getting Cancun/HK/San Fran/LAS easy peasy during most school holidays for 29,500/35,000 points person with much lower tax and the ability to use my PE upgrades easily, I have also made the decision to switch. Whereas, another important thing to consider is that VA still do 1 mile = 1 point in Eco, so it’s easy to build points.

      That said, for someone like Rob, I think PE may be slumming it! So he’ll probably read this with disdain :p.

      • But Virgin’s route map is very limited, including nothing in Europe

        • To be fair I’ve around 350k Avios with 2×241’s, plus an upgrade. So I do have some Avios, it’s just where I used to solely focus on Avios I’ve now switched as BA’s product is inferior, I cannot get bookings for when I can fly (I’m a teacher) and with Qatar’s regular deals and product, you’re better off flying with them to Asia/Oz in my opinion.

          You are right in that BA is a lot more extensive, so if I need to go to Latin America or Hawaii then Avios are still handy as these are difficult places to get to with other carriers (although I would only book Hawaii from West Coast USA).

          As for Europe, I feel that with the effort it takes to collect the Avios, the product BA now provides and Easyjet’s pricing, you may as well just fly with Easyjet and especially so if you’re not near Heathrow.

          • We’re 4 hrs from LHR but still feel BA (ie Avios) is worth going for. In the South-West, the alternative to our destination (place in the sun :) ) is ex-Bristol, which I like as an airport but Ryanair only flies infrequently.

            So our real alternatives to BA – EJ, Norwegian, Wizz, other Ryanair airports – are ex ‘London’ anyway, with no particular cost saving when you know your way around collecting Avios.

  7. The_Real_A says:

    OT – but speaking of MAN to NYC I was VERY surprised with the comfort of Thomas Cook airlines. The base economy seat was almost to BA premium economy levels (they have removed 2 rows so its only 7 abreast on the A330). I enjoyed the food better than BA business class.

  8. Tim Rogers says:

    The switch of the LHR-SEA service is a bit galling for me – I booked that flight with DL in order to use my SkyTeam status (thanks to the Alitalia status match!) but looks like I won’t get that on a Virgin Atlantic codeshare. Is it worth trying to push Delta for a concession (e.g. a lounge voucher)?

  9. Does this mean that these new routes will be available as reward flights with Virgin? I recently flew with them on a reward booking to NYC and just missed out on securing Manchester flights before they stopped them last year. It would be great to have the MAN-JFK route again for reward bookings.

  10. To add another view of Virgin – just returned from my first Virgin UC trip. It was one of the cheap £999 LHR-Chicago flights advertised here last summer – thanks Rob! Positives were the LHR clubhouse, staff (including one of the best crews I’ve experienced on the return leg) and direct aisle access. The day flight was great. Unfortunately, I found the seat/bed terribly uncomfortable for the night flight, with an awkward shape and very narrow. I understand the 787 experience is a lot nicer. I wouldn’t rush back at anything like the “normal” UC fares.

  11. Direct flights to Voodoo donuts!

  12. On topic (ish).

    Amex have just informed me that they cannot link my MR account to my Vifgin FC account due to the names not being exactly the same.

    Which is the easiest way to deal with this ie where is it easier to change my name? Do I now need to do this with everything (boo!)?


    • Presumably Amex will reissue your card if you change the name on that, so unless you want that then Virgin may be easier – but even they are likely to want marriage certificates etc.

  13. RIccati says:

    This is all sensible but shows that Delta utilises Virgin to compete on US routes, rather than letting it develop as a major airline.

  14. Excellent news for both MAN-NYC and LHR- Seattle. And when the Boston flight comes on line from Mancyland, I’ll definitely be using that a bit. It should also benefit my fellow Sheffielders resident in Boston.