Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Virgin’s first A350 arrives – and the 3rd and 4th aircraft now showing in the JFK timetable

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

Virgin Atlantic accepted delivery of its first A350 at the Airbus factory in Toulouse over the weekend.  The aircraft has been called ‘Red Velvet’.

There was no public arrival event, with the aircraft quietly flown into Gatwick on Saturday.  I’m not sure why Virgin Atlantic has let British Airways make the running in the PR stakes over A350 arrival events, especially as – if we’re frank – the A350 is a substantially bigger deal for Virgin Atlantic than it is for British Airways, as a % of the fleet.

Here are a few pictures (click to enlarge):

Virgin's first A350 arrives


Virgin's first A350 arrives

The aircraft will enter service on the New York JFK route on 10th September.  The 2nd aircraft will begin service on 24th September.

Unlike the British Airways A350, there will be no ‘public’ test flights because Virgin Atlantic has no short haul routes.  Crew have been trained on a mock-up installed at the Virgin Atlantic crew centre in Crawley.

If you are keen to find out how the new Upper Class Suite looks, we have been invited to take a look in mid September on a trip to New York.  This may well be on the 2nd aircraft to be delivered, in the gap between delivery and entry into daily service.  Yet again I have managed to double-book myself so it looks like another task for Rhys ….

Aircraft No 3 and Aircraft No 4 are heading to New York JFK too

The 3rd and 4th A350 aircraft have now been slotted into the timetable.

From 5th November VS3/VS4 will switch to an A350 from a Boeing 787, at which point there will be three daily A350 services (two on Tuesdays).

VS3 is the early 08.50 departure from Heathrow, which returns at 18.30 from JFK.

From 9th December, VS45/VS46 will also switch to an A350.

VS45 is the 14.35 from Heathrow which returns as the 20.00 from JFK.

If I understand the delivery schedule correctly, there is then a gap before another four aircraft arrive in 2020.  Virgin Atlantic will receive 12 A350’s in total.

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (December 2023)

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, the Reward+ card has a bonus of 15,000 Virgin Points):

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 bonus points and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

A generous earning rate for a free card at 0.75 points per £1 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 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

Crazy 100,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY) and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into Virgin Points.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year 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 (30)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Stuart says:

    Apart from going to scrap heap, what are they doing with their 787s?

    • Tom says:

      The 787s are no more than 4 years old. As -9’s, they have substantially less capacity than the Airbus, which is a -1000.
      The 787s are going nowhere any time soon.

  • Oh! Matron! says:

    ” I’m not sure why Virgin Atlantic has let British Airways make the running in the PR stakes over A350 arrival events”

    Because BA need all the help they can get, PR wise. It’s been a annus horribilis for them.

    • Yorkieflyer says:

      BA certainly have been making a arse of it recently

    • Doug M says:

      Also because people that fly Virgin are like disciples of the brand, so VS don’t need much in the way of publicity, it’s customer generated. Look at V-Flyer for example and it’s like a huge love-in for Virgin, little in the way of criticism. When I flew UC I was quite surprised at how poor the seat was after all I’d read about Virgin’s wonderfulness. The lounge at LHR was fabulous, no doubt, but the Delta one in Miami was rubbish. Onboard service was fine, but overall the stupid seat meant I just couldn’t see the additional cost over BA as being worthwhile, especially as the FC miles are much less use to me than Avios.

      • Kieran says:

        How can you say the Virgin UC seat is worse than the current BA Club Seat? Climbing over a total stranger to go to the toilet, facing a total stranger… both of which don’t happen on VAA. Surely that’s in the same vein as the Virgin fans at V-Flyer thinking Virgin can do no wrong?

        • Andrew says:

          With the BA seat you don’t have to climb over anyone if you’re in an aisle seat. With the hiring configuration, every seat is an aisle seat with pretty much no view of the window, and direct looks at every other passengers. Both are substandard for 2019, but herringbone is just a worst version of another type of seat.

        • Doug M says:

          Except I didn’t say it was worse than the BA CW seat, perhaps you imagined that in your desire to say nice things about Virgin 🙂

        • Doug M says:

          As it happens I do prefer the BA seat. It reclines to a bed without having to get out of it. People don’t walk into my feet as they go by, I can see out of the window without needing the neck of an owl, and as BAEC Gold I get upper deck 747 seats that have a window and direct aisle access, these seats also have decent storage too. Not all CW seats are equal, and it doesn’t suit everyone, but I find in general the CW seat is good for sleep, and comfortable for me. I’m not entirely thrilled at the new CW seat as based on the very similar AA seat the foot box is somewhat restrictive when getting a decent sleep position.
          The whole thing with a seat is entirely a personal and subjective thing.

          • ChrisC says:

            Rob reported that the new BA seat is 6ft 6 long excluding the foot box so for the majority of people the box won’t be an issue

            And there are very few window CW seats on BA which have direct aisle access without stepping over anyone. Great for those that can get one (and I did get 64K once) But the biggest issue with current CW (which will be current for a good few years) is either you having to step over someone or someone steps over you and I’m not a fan of either of those.

          • Doug M says:

            Rob has also previously reported that he uses dimensions as stated by the airline. I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve tried it. Personally I find it hard to believe you’ll have 6′ 6″ before your feet are in the box.

    • Lady London says:

      Plus it’s just possible there is a smart person in British Airways who did an elaborate launch of their single currently operation-ready A350 as a ‘spoiler’ especially if they had info that Virgin are going to saturate their New York route with A350’s a lot sooner.

      • ChrisC says:

        Biggest laugh of the day!

        a smart person working in the BA PR department – priceless

        • ankomonkey says:

          BA send all the smart people to their IT department 😉

          • Lady London says:

            I would *love* to be a fly on the wall in the conversations British Airways has been having this year with their, presumably now outsourced, IT service provider(s).

    • Callum says:

      I think the more obvious answer is more along the lines of people simply don’t care.

      No one I know has ever expressed the slightest level of interest about an airline receiving a new plane variation. Even major steps like the introduction of the first 787 and A380s barely got a mention – and that was just because of the huge design changes, not because they cared about the seat being marginally better etc!

      • Rob says:

        That is true and I am fully aware that HFP readers are not aviation ‘enthusiasts’ unless there is a new seat involved.

  • Nick_C says:

    Never flown Virgin UC. Don’t like the design of the old cabins. But the improved cabins on the A350 and the availability on the JFK route makes me want to try them instead of BA next time I go to NYC.

    • Doug M says:

      Me too, it’ll be interesting to see how (hopefully) improved it is over the current seat layout. Definitely enjoy the LHR lounge too, although wouldn’t choose an airline just for the lounge. The stumbling block for me usually with VS is the additional cost over BA, and the loss of the valuable to me TP as I barely hit the 1500 required for gold. Losing the 360 to 500ish I’d get out of NYC flight with the ex-EU start could easily make the difference to me sticking with BA. But do want to try the new VS seat on the A350, which is also a great aircraft for noise and the higher cabin pressure. I think the A350 is ahead of the B787, although both are streets ahead of the older models in how you feel. Despite this I’ll really miss the 747 when it’s gone.

    • Spaghetti Town says:

      Probably why they’re doing it. BA will have it’s older product on JFK for a while.

      • Rob says:

        Refurbed 777-200 with Club Suite shows from October ….

        • Doug M says:

          Which I assume gives them F and the new Club Suite so they get both the things they need on the JFK route.

        • Spaghetti Town says:

          Yes but they’ll still be older 747’s with Old Club World doing half the flying.

    • Lady London says:

      I need to see Shoestring’s comment on this. After he’s reviewed it extensively, of course 🙂

      • Shoestring says:

        No problem with Amy Hart finding more money doing other things, good luck to her.

        I *do* have a problem with Love Island, it messed up my evenings for about 30 consecutive days (or that’s what it felt like) until i managed to get away on my hols.

        My wife is a furriner and like all good furriners, she likes to listen to the TV in English at about 100 decibels, ie the same as a 747 taking off.

        I’d have no particular problem with her watching Have I got News For You at 100 decibels, but that Love Island sh$t really is unbearable to hear in the background. Moronic stuff, followed by more moronic stuff.

        • Shoestring says:

          though she was a lot more attractive in younger days when she didn’t mess up her face with all that make up

    • ChrisC says:

      good grief.

      She had to resign from BA to do the series so anything she says like ‘I can’t go back because I’m in charge of safety’ is just nonsense.

      Here is ansrticle from the Brighton Argus from 1st August (enjoy the word salad)

      “So I was like brilliant, I’ll just get a few hundred thousand Instagram followers then I can go back to my job and just get really good Instagram content around the world and then obviously, I can’t go back to my job.”

      “No I can’t go back.. I had to leave before I went in.”

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.