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Virgin Atlantic launches limited Belfast and Glasgow routes

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For reasons not entirely clear, Virgin Atlantic will experiment next Summer with a very restricted service from Belfast and Glasgow.

From Belfast, Virgin will be flying to Orlando.  It will fly a grand total of six times – Thursday 25 June and then every Thursday in July!

On the off chance that this timetable suits your holiday plans, you will find yourself on a 3-class Boeing 747.  There are only 16 Upper Class seats so the chances of more than a couple being available for redemptions is not great.  One upside if you can find a seat is the lower (ie £0) APD rate in Northern Ireland.

The second route is even odder.

Virgin Atlantic

A Glasgow to Las Vegas service will launch on September 10th 2015.  It will fly a grand total of eight times, ending in October, using the same 747.

Again, it will only be a weekly service departing on a Thursday.  I’m not sure I have ever met anyone who went to Las Vegas for an entire week, but you could build in some sightseeing around it.

To add to the oddness of these routes, remember that Virgin Little Red does not fly to Belfast or Glasgow – only to Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Manchester.  This means that there is not even a convenient ‘all Virgin’ option if you don’t want to stay away a full week and end up flying home via Heathrow instead.

As I said, all very strange!  This feels like a throwback to the ‘old Virgin’ before Delta took its 49% stake and started making some rational decisions such as ditching Sydney.

Full details can be found on the Virgin Atlantic website here.

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

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Comments

  1. pazza2000 says:

    Bizzare service, although I can vouch that the Scots as a whole tend to be very anti LHR and many do happily spend a week in LAS.

  2. poincianakings says:

    I love this site but sometimes, not surprisingly, the post are a bit too business/frequent flyer centric.

    These flights are primarily being run for the benefit of Virgin Holidays rather than any frequent flyers. VH (and other tour operators) will have guaranteed to VS that they will block purchase a large number of seats. The remaining seats (which I bet is small in number) will be sold via VS. VS are following a tried and tested strategy as they used this same procedure when they first started flying GLA-MCO, you start with a number of tester flights (with guaranteed block bookings) over a popular period (in this case the summer holidays for BFS and autumn for LAS). If the demand is there the following year you increase the number of flights available. Eventually the airline has established itself in the market well enough that it does not necessarily need to rely on the tour operators to block book seats. That is the theory anyway.

    Best example of this strategy is GLA-MCO which started using this strategy and is now 2 flights per week for a considerable length of time. I can’t remember back to the start of the MAN-MCO flights but I bet it was a similar strategy in the early 90s as well.

    The BFS route will be interesting to watch- the EI route out of DUB to MCO is often populated with a lot of passengers from Northern Ireland who travel down to DUB rather than backtrack to the UK mainland to get to MCO. I would imagine that VH/VS have one eye on taking passengers off EI. It is also worth noting that carriers have done well at BFS in the past, in particular Travel City (which is now VH) and TCX still operate.

    • Interesting background, thank you. I can’t help thinking that Virgin should be doing something higher yielding with the aircraft though.

      Add in the positioning flight from presumably Heathrow ( not sold ) and the plane is tied up for probably 40 hours. You could do two New York to London returns in that time.

      • Deenesh says:

        I would argue that these flights bring in a decent profit to passenger ratio. The prices of these flights if you dont book well in advance via virgin holidays is very high as I have found out myself. Often £800 and over return. Last year I tried to book these flights on the day Virgin released them via VS (so nearly a year before hand) and prices were £1200 return. From what I hear from collegues in Glasgow airport these flights are also invariably full. I’d argue they make more profit on one of these flights than a flight on the same day to New York. If anyone has numbers it would be great to compare. I’d of course retract the claim if I was proved wrong 😉

      • poincianakings says:

        The positioning flight will be from LGW, as I believe by then the majority of 744’s will be LGW based following the arrival of the 789.

        I don’t have the time to work out the schedule for the MCO flights but for the BFS flights I would imagine that an aircraft swap will be done at MCO (as it could be for GLA-LAS as well). This is currently what happens for the MAN and GLA flights at MCO. E.g.: aircraft flies what is called a ‘W Route’- LGW-MCO-GLA-MCO-LGW. They will probably need to do an empty positioning flight for the first service though. However, empty positioning flights are no different to what the majority of charter carriers do and lets not forget that BA has been known in the past to do them as well.

        As others have said, VS (and also DL because I would imagine they are influencing a lot of decisions) will have done the maths- clearly this will be a good use of aircraft. The airline are in this to make a profit, if money could be made easier elsewhere they would do.

  3. Deenesh says:

    As has been said, I dont see why you are slating this so much. I’m personally using on of the GLA/MCO flights since Glasgow is my closest option for this direct flight and even Glasgow is 300 miles from me as I live in Orkney. It saves me trecking to London (or Manchester etc) for direct flights which adds hundreds of pounds to my holiday bills. And I’m one of the people who you seem to think are crazy and went to Las Vegas for over a week. There is far more to do than the casinos and I also took a week out in Arizona seeing the Grand Canyon etc. This seems like the normal ‘anything away from London is pointless and nobody will use it’ mentality that so many people have.

    • I am not slating it a lot! I just find it an odd use of a $150m aircraft esp for a very short season.

      • Deenesh says:

        But if they cut one service from say NYC to do this route and it is full, and that one ‘missing’ flight passengers can br shared between the NYC flights left then surely you are making better use of the aircraft. There are so many New York flights per day that there are always plenty of spare seats left on any given flight (usually). If VS can condense, say, 5 flights into 4 to spare up a 747 to do a holiday run they know will be full and people pay more for then to me that is good business sense. While i enjoy this site and love the articles i think the point raised above is valid it is sometimes too redemption orientated. Some of us ‘normal’ people use cash tickets in Economy to go on holiday with and add to our miles account and these flights help us for both. I still stand by my claim that these MCO flights will make more money than a comparable NYC such flight (for the same day of the week and time of day).

        • Frankie McPolin says:

          Deenesh, the clue’s in the name of the website.

          • Deenesh says:

            Well done. But I’d say thats a massive generalisation which would remove half the posts written. No hotel reviews, no heads-ups on offers for cash prices etc. The site would soon die if the posts ONLY referred to points earning opportunities.

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