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

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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 787

Virgin Atlantic to launch London Heathrow to Seattle

This replaces the existing Delta service.

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.

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (October 2021)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, one has a bonus of 15,000 points):

Virgin Rewards credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

The UK’s most generous free Visa or Mastercard at 0.75 points / £1 Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review

You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

Until 2nd November 2021, there is a special offer on The Platinum Card from American Express.

You will receive a sign-up bonus of 60,000 Amex points which converts into 60,000 Virgin Points.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Points

(Want to earn more Virgin Points?  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.)

Comments (50)

  • Bob says:

    Shame Portland OregOn isn’t a VAA route as it’s a nice city to visit 🙂

    • John says:

      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.

    • Bob says:

      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)

  • Kiran says:

    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.

    • Jen T says:

      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)

  • PGW says:

    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.

      • Kip says:

        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.

  • Peter says:

    Will Virgin no longer be flying to Atlanta?

    • Adey says:

      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.”


      • Liz says:

        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

          • Liz says:

            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.

          • Alan says:

            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!

          • Liz says:

            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!

          • Liz says:

            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!

          • Liz says:

            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.

      • Peter says:

        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!

    • Tom says:

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

      • Tom says:

        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?

        • Adey says:

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


  • 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.

    • Rob says:

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

    • Seb says:

      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.

      • harry says:

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

        • Seb says:

          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.

          • harry says:

            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.

  • 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.

    • The_Real_A says:

      It was 2-4-2 my mistake, but in regular economy. Much more room than BA economy and I felt on par with BA premium economy. The food was more memorable than BA biz.

    • The_Real_A says:

      Also should add that these are not charter any more, they are running schedule services across the US which are very price competitive.

    • James A says:

      I think many people are surprised at how nice Thomas Cook long haul is since the refurb. They really are a good option now for MAN – USA in economy 🙂

    • davef says:

      I’ve just flown TC in Prem Econ Man-JFK and it wasn’t bad at all. Unlike BA they offer one way fights without adding £1000 to the ticket price, so the outbound only was under £400 for PE.

      Great if you want to combine a cash one way with miles the other. Their amenity kit was better than BAs in my opinion as well.

  • 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)?

  • GS says:

    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.

    • Jonathan Brown says:

      Definitely . I wonder how many niles + cash an economy flight will be . The taxes from from Manchester are generally cheaper than Heathrow.

    • Rob says:


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