Virgin Atlantic to restart passenger flights in July and provide ‘health pack’ amenity kits

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Virgin Atlantic has just announced that it hopes to restart passenger flying in July.

The airline seems to have changed its mind recently after stating that it didn’t intend to restart flying until August thanks to the 14-day quarantine imposed by the government on UK arrivals.

New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, Hong Kong  and Shanghai are due to resume from the 20th or 21st July. They will be joined by more destinations due to be announced later this month, with further re-openings dependent on travel restrictions easing around the world.

Virgin is currently operating many routes as freight-only, and will continue to fly cargo-only services where necessary. Orlando is perhaps the odd one out on this list as it is likely to be a predominantly leisure rather than business or cargo destination.

Whilst Hong Kong has announced it is re-opening its airport for transiting passengers, it has doubled down on restrictions to non-resident arrivals by extending the existing ban by three months.

Heathrow Terminal 3 remains closed, so Virgin will operate out of Terminal 2 in the short term whilst demand begins to rebuild.

Virgin Atlantic will mandate use of face masks

All passengers will be required to wear face masks, and Virgin will be handing out ‘Health Packs’ that include face masks, surface wipes and hand gel. The kit is similar to the one Delta started distributing in May, albeit very on-brand!

Virgin has also announced new hygiene measures including the use of “electrostatic spraying of high-grade disinfectant onboard in all our cabins and lavatories, ensuring no surface is left untouched”. This appears to be another procedure they have taken on from Delta.

The airline will also block some seats from passengers to try and maximise the distance between individuals, as well as have a dedicated isolation area for travellers who present symptoms on board.

The meal service will be simplified, and come in the form of a box:

It’s not clear whether the contents will vary for economy, Premium or Upper Class travellers.

Edit: Virgin have clarified that Upper Class customers will continue to receive an “Upper Class service” albeit in a modified format or presentation, likely to be served in a single tray.

Alcohol will not be available initially in any cabin.

Virgin Atlantic’s decision to reboot operations in July rather than August is a good sign that the airline sees travel starting to recover sooner rather than later. You can read more about the new processes Virgin is implementing on the Virgin Atlantic site here.

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  1. paulm says:

    Presumably Orlando is subject to the US removing restrictions as not one of the approved entry points

    • Can’t see China/Hong Kong open their doors

      • paulm says:

        Presume those two likely to happen due to cargo revenue

        • Virgin is already flying China to Brussels (oddly) to London for cargo reasons.

          • Lady London says:

            I think a lot of companies use Brussels (and, i think, the Netherlands, as a hub/distribution centre.

            A lot of shipments from Chinese vendors seem to be brought in on a plane labelled up, then dropped into the post system as well in Brussels or Netherlands to customers all over Europe.

            I’ve probably done 30 orders this year on 4 or so different platforms UK and Eur in the past year and bar 2-4 of them every single one looked like it was shipped this way. I think that is why Chinese stuff takes 4-5 weeks to arrive – they probably wait for a container slot then it probably only spends 4-5 days in transit even though you’ve waited 4-5 weeks. I’ve noticed that when they need to, stuff can be made to arrive in 7-14 days but that’s only some situations and vendors.

    • Gumshoe says:

      VS seems absolutely confident that it’ll be flying to MCO on July 20th.

      But as you correctly point out, unless Trump reverses the order that bans MCO from accepting flights from the UK, it can’t.

      So does VS know something we don’t? Or is it just hoping and praying for the best?

  2. John T says:

    Universal Studios re-opened yesterday so I suspect that may be a reason for the Orlando resumption

    • marcw says:

      As long as the US remains closed to UK citizens…. you won´t be able to visit.

  3. Matthew says:

    That swanky health kit, with the foil/plastic package, missed opportunity to use paper packaging. Though pleased to see they are provided, unlike on BA wher eit is bring your own. Virgin 1-0 BA.

    • Oh! Matron! says:

      I wonder (actually hope) that they’ve done some research with virologists to determine which material is better from an ability to transmit the virus. I’d imagine paper to be much worse than plastic

    • Andrew says:

      Paper doesn’t provide enough of a barrier to keep the contents sanitary – unless it was plastic coated paper which defeats the object. Greta will need to take a back seat for a while – don’t think reusable cups will be welcomed back at coffee shops for the foreseeable (they had already banned them in early March).

      • Unless the virus can pass through the paper, it shouldn’t make a difference should it?

      • Lady London says:

        reuseable cups fine.
        Provided they stay in front of their customer that owns the cup.
        Customer’s cup should not be touched by staff, not brought to the machine and filled only carefully and at a distance from a fresh jug that is filled for each customer from the machine.
        Fill jug handled only by staff and then straight into dishwasher.

        Slmilar should always have been the case. I’ve stopped using coffee places when I saw the lack of hygiene when other customers brought their own cups.

        This is just common sense not just for COVID.

        • Exactly, and the environmental lobby probably won’t be happy but the use of bleach and other viricides is going to be crucial to keep COVID under control for the foreseeable future. Someone posted the other day that other hospital infections like c difficile have virtually disappeared since the new hygiene measures were imposed and this can surely only be a good thing.

          • Lady London says:

            I miss @Novice. OCDC about food hygiene, like me 🙂

          • Lady London says:

            That’s very, very interesting @Anna. I and my OH lonf held the view that C. difficile (clostridium) outbreaks rampant in UK hospitals are simply due to filth – lazy staff and poor management not cleaning things properly and observing very poor hygiene standards.

            I don’t know anyone, of any age, but particularly the old, who is not terrified of having to go into a hospital in the UK because of this filth that no one talks about. Luckily for most readers here, a very high percentage of us have access to private medicine and some choice.

          • Mr(s) Entitled says:

            Lady London: If you don’t know anyone who is not terrified of going into hospital because of the filth then surely everyone you know must be talking about it?

          • marcw says:

            I think in general, rate of infectious diseases has fallen – just washing hands more often helps a lot. A LOT.

          • @Lady London good luck with your private medicine given some of the cases I’ve seen from there that the NHS has had to mop up…

          • I caught c diff in hospital after a surgery I had. It was truly the most horrendous thing I’ve ever experienced. Literally had rivers of poo leaving my body that I had no control over. Wouldn’t wish it on anybody!

    • Lady London says:

      and trendy cardboard bento box (Virgin) vs nast plastic wrapped sandwich triangle (British Airways Business and First) 30-Love.

    • Sanders says:

      Oh how awful, why should people have a lower quality product that would have little impact if recycled

  4. Andrew says:

    Meal in a cardboard box in Upper Class – luxurious!

    • Just clarified with Virgin – Upper Class will get usual food, albeit in a slightly indifferent presentation (likely a single tray).

  5. Phil G says:

    As long as FCO advice remains essential travel only, no one is insured either

    • pauldb says:

      It may be an anomaly but I believe my HSBC policy will still cover me, even if it book a new trip, for medical emergencies including repatriation. Just not for if I book now and want to cancel/abandon.

    • That’s the key bit for me – whilst FCO advice remains I can’t see much travel happening. Even when it is lifted it sounds like most insurers are excluding COVID-19, so it could be an extremely expensive trip if you fall ill.

  6. I’m confused about why Virgin are re-starting their operations when BA seems to be in the process of cancelling many of their July flights. Or is that the point?!

    • marcw says:

      It´s probably also a marketing strategy. Nice positive press release for the press in the current BA staff issue.

      Perhaps they also hope that by mid july the ban to visit the US will be lifted (I don´t think so, but…).

      • Who’d want to go to the US right now?

        • Lady London says:

          Some States are doing well like Germany. Others more like the UK. It varies greatly. Population density and contact with families abroad seem to be factors that might explain some differences.

    • Gumshoe says:

      BBC News reports there was a meeting today between airlines and the government about the new quarantine rule.

      VS (and Easyjet) turned up. BA refused to.

      Surely no coincidence that VS today confirmed the resumption of flights to MCO next month, flights that are currently banned by the US.

      I can only assume that VS has been given assurances about the US reopening its borders by July 20th that haven’t, as yet, been made public.

      • marcw says:

        Perhaps its through Delta? But then, I´d imagine BA would have the same information.. at the end of the day the JBA AA-BA-IB-AY is way more important than the DL-VS one. Maybe it´s just wishful thinking.

  7. SammyJ says:

    Any word on Manchester or the other Orlando flights?

  8. Gumshoe says:

    @Rob or @Rhys: speaking of VS, are you aware of any recent change to the rules on reward flights?

    The fare rules specifically state the YQ carrier imposed surcharge won’t be refunded if the passenger cancels. It always has been before, along with the taxes & miles (minus a £30 redeposit fee), as with BA.

    Can’t work out whether this is a sneaky and very unwelcome new development, or whether it’s always been in the rules but never enforced.

  9. Paul Wingrove says:

    Virgin Atlantic has informed myself that until 25th October flights will be leaving from Gatwick, after that everything will be from Heathrow

  10. Will in SFO says:

    Surely VS don’t believe MCO will happen. It needs:

    – MCO to be allowed to receive international arrivals (guess tourism ind is lobbying DC hard for this given Disney reopening though vast majority of visitors (like 70%) to Disney are US nationals)

    – Trump to lift the travel ban.

    As Rhys says I can’t see there is enough demand from US nationals and Brits with green cards or a US National in their family to justify the route.

  11. Aharon says:

    My understanding is that MCO has been brought back on the assumption that whilst it won’t be cash-positive, that it will mitigate cash going out of the door in terms of refunds. Virgin have posted in their travel trade communications that now LHR-MCO is flying from 20JUL on this route (and for LGW-MCO) bookings that non refundable tickets won’t be refunded. Suspect the hope is people will either take a chance on the flight or rebook on a higher yielding flight for a later date.

    Assumptions based on FAQ on VS Flying Hub

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