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Virgin Atlantic and Delta changing US flight services from Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester

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Virgin Atlantic and Delta have just announced a raft of scheduling changes that will increase the frequency of flights between the UK, including from Manchester, and the USA

These changes are unrelated to the joint venture filed between Delta, Virgin Atlantic, KLM and Air France, although when fully approved it will include these flights.

This article is based on the actual flight plans that were filed on Friday night and are a little different to what you may have read elsewhere.

Virgin and Delta service changes

Here are the changes:

New routes from Gatwick

Back in April we reported Delta’s announcement regarding the Gatwick-Boston route, which was launched to stifle JetBlue’s transatlantic plans.  We now have the times and dates for the new services:

Delta is launching Gatwick – Boston in May 2020. The flight departs Gatwick at 10:30 and arrives in Boston at 13:20; returning from Boston at 21:00 with an arrival in Gatwick at 08:45.

Virgin is launching Gatwick – New York JFK on 21st May 2020. The flight departs Gatwick at 12:55 and arrives in New York at 15:40; the inbound departs at 19:30 and arrives in London at 07:50.  (It was 1991 when Virgin Atlantic last flew from Gatwick to New York!)  It starts at 5x weekly, increasing to 6x weekly from 13th June and daily from 27th July.

Changes to existing routes

Delta is adding a daily flight between Heathrow and New York JFK on 20th May with the inbound JFK – Heathrow being a day flight.  The outbound flight leaves Heathrow at 07:30 and arrives in New York at 10:30. The inbound departs JFK at 10:15 and arrives at Heathrow at 22:25.

Virgin is removing a daily flight between Heathrow and New York (VS153/154) from 20th May (the Gatwick service starts the next day).  Virgin is removing a second daily flight between Heathrow and New York from 10th June, when VS137/010 is dropped on Tuesday and Saturday.  The net effect of these two changes is to cut the number of Virgin Atlantic-operated flights between Heathrow and JFK from 42 to 33 per week.

Virgin is increasing flights from Heathrow to Seattle from 7 to 11 weekly from 29th March 2020

Virgin is increasing flights from Heathrow to Los Angeles from 14 to 17 weekly (max 3 daily) from 30th March 2020

Delta is taking over Virgin Atlantic’s Manchester to Boston route, increasing from 3x weekly to daily from 23rd May 2020

Aircraft changes

All Delta flights from Heathrow to New York and Boston will use refurbished 767-400 with Delta One and – for the first time – premium economy products

The new Delta flight from Manchester to Boston will use a Boeing 757, replacing the A330-200 used by Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic is placing its new A350 and Upper Class Suite on New York flights this year (which we knew) and Los Angeles in 2020 (which we didn’t know)

Virgin and Delta service changes

Conclusion

There is a lot going on here:

the introduction of premium economy to Delta

the standardisation of the Delta fleet on the core Heathrow to New York and Boston routes

the switch at Manchester from Virgin to Delta on the Boston route (which seems illogical – if you assume most passengers are UK residents – but releases a Virgin aircraft to use elsewhere)

the addition of the Virgin A350 and new Upper Class seat to LA

the first day flight TO the UK from New York from Delta

Virgin reducing its presence on the key Heathrow to New York route sharply, from 42 to 33 services per week

the launch of Gatwick services to New York (on Virgin) and Boston (on Delta)

….. plus the Seattle and LA frequency increases

The additional frequencies as well as new routes are clearly an improvement, as is the move to a standard Delta product, albeit on an ageing Boeing 767.  Boston, in particular, appears to be getting a boost – no doubt to compete with JetBlue’s plans to launch a transatlantic route.


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

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Comments (40)

  • Diydegsy says:

    Bits, sorry but can anyone recommend the best business class lounge at Bangkok airport, we are flying with BA from Bangkok to Heathrow and unsure which one is the best. Our flight leaves 11.40am thanks.

    • Sunil says:

      The Cathay lounge there is pretty good. Not sure which one BA uses. Qatar is also nice, but not sure if you’re allowed in if flying BA business

      • Diydegsy says:

        Hi thanks Sunil I wasn’t sure either which is why I’m looking for help from others that maybe regularly fly from Bangkok on business. Cathay lounge looks good.

        • The Original Nick says:

          CX lounge is probably your best bet. I’ve done lounge hopping at BKK in the past. Oman Business lounge has some very nice food and you can access it via PP.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Sure the Qatar lounges let you in as long as you are actually flying business or first class on a oneworld carrier.

        • Andrew says:

          I think that’s only in Doha, not other places they have lounges. As they call their lounges “premium lounges” they can pick and choose what they want to do re One World – a bit like BA Concorde room and BA arrivals lounges – their own rules apply.

        • Catman says:

          Last time I checked the Qatar lounge closed at 8.30am until 4pm

  • BSI1978 says:

    Massively OT Rob, but do you have an idea as to when you/Rhys will run the review of his Rio jaunt?

    • Rob says:

      He’s not back yet! It is partly drafted though so likely to be within next 2 weeks. Need to slot it around some reviews from Anika and rest of the hotel series.

      • BSI1978 says:

        If you could do it before the 16th of September then that would be lovely Rob! 😉

  • Planning Geek says:

    What lounge options are there at Gatwick for Upper class passengers?

    I assume very limited?

  • Andrew says:

    Virgin flew to Newark New York much later than 1991 – I flew there in the early 2000s.

    • Peter K says:

      From Gatwick?

      • Andrew says:

        Indeed

        • Andrew says:

          And remember that the first Virgin route was VS1 from Gatwick to Newark in 1984 – they are unlikely to have stopped that route just 7 years later in 1991. I think the press release probably reads JFK stopped in 1991 – but Newark is very much a gateway for New York, despite it being in a different state, it’s actually geographically closer to Manhattan than JFK.

          • Rojer says:

            We flew Virgin from Gatwick to Newark in Summer 1999, in a 747-200 I think (small bubble)

  • NigelthePensioner says:

    Any idea of a date for the Virgin new suite to JFK? I believe its the “Summer” (2020) but trawling through dates has not thrown up any A350 1000’s that I can see!

  • Doug M says:

    At the moment Virgin introduce the A350 Delta standardise the flagship route on the albeit refurbished B767. Nicest plane around Vs. Pig in lipstick, hard to choose there.

    • Dev says:

      +1
      United is also switching to the B767 for their LHR – EWR flights. They will not be getting my business! At least not by choice.

  • ADS says:

    in terms of aircraft – one plane shifts from LHR-NYC to LGW-NYC … and one plane shifts from MAN-BOS to LHR and onto the SEA/LAX routes.

    I guess that if Delta/VS wanted to increase Boston to daily (and use just one brand), from an aircraft utilisation perspective, it makes sense to shift this route to Delta.

    Then you’re left with what to do with the freed up VS plane … and i guess the numbers suggested that the SEA and LAX routes looked best to take the additional capacity (with the proviso that you want LHR-NYC to be A350 only).

  • BSI1978 says:

    Another OT from me on this lovely Sunday morning…haven’t flown BA l/h PE for a while and wondering whether all drinks are complimentary for the duration?