News in brief:
Virgin Atlantic confirms Austin launch
On Saturday we wrote that rumours were swirling of a new Virgin Atlantic route to Austin, Texas.
It turns out the rumours were true and flights are now being loaded into the booking system. Services are currently visible when you search via Google Flights but are NOT – as of Monday evening -appearing when you search via the Virgin Atlantic website.
The flights are as follows, with the route launching on 25th May:
- VS231 departs Heathrow at 11:35 and arrives in Austin at 16:05
- VS232 departs Austin at 18:05 and arrives in London at 9:00 the following day
The total flight time is 10:30 hours on the outbound and 8:55 on the return, which should give you enough time for a decent amount of sleep on the way back.
Flights will operate four times weekly, on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. They will use a Boeing 787-9 aircraft, which still has the older Upper Class seat rather than the new suite on the A350s.
Virgin Atlantic is going head to head with British Airways on the route, which operates a daily flight with its A350 (and Club Suite) over the Summer.
Flights officially go on sale on the 12th. We are told the headline promotional fares will be £409 in Economy and £1,711 in Upper Class.
Austin is a city I’ve (Rhys) always wanted to visit, so I hope to report back from the inaugural flight 🙂
Get 2,000 bonus Avios with a new BA Amex promotion
A new mini-promotion was launched yesterday for British Airways American Express cardholders.
It seems to be open to all Premium Plus cardholders – I’m not sure about holders of the free card – although registrations will be capped at 60,000 people.
It isn’t very generous, but if you’re doing the spending anyway …..
You will receive 2,000 bonus Avios from American Express when you spend £1,000 before 21st February, cumulatively, with:
- British Airways (small print says ‘flights only’ but BA Holidays may well count in practice)
- Marriott (selected European hotels only)
- Avis (direct online bookings only)
- Heathrow Express
Clearly 2,000 bonus Avios – worth around £20 – isn’t making much of a dent in £1,000 of spending. I can’t imagine that it will do much to change your purchasing behaviour over the next seven weeks.
That said …. given that £1,000 is roughly what you’d be paying out for the taxes on two British Airways business class redemptions, I imagine that a lot of our readers will manage to hit the target. Good luck spending £1,000 on Heathrow Express in the next seven weeks though!
You must register for the offer before making any transactions, via the BA Amex statement page on the American Express website or in the app.
A Virgin Atlantic tier point run on Singapore Airlines?
This joined Copenhagen to Rome as a cheap way of trying out Singapore Airlines business class without leaving Europe.
A reader reminded me that you earn Virgin Atlantic tier points when flying on Singapore Airlines.
For short haul flights under 2,000 miles like these, you’d earn:
- 25 tier points each way in Economy
- 75 tier points each way in Business
- 125 tier points each way in First (if available)
Milan to Barcelona is around €250 each way in Business Class. If you are pushing for Virgin Atlantic status, you could pick up some tier points fairly easily by building this flight into a short break around Southern Europe.
If you already have Virgin Flying Club Gold status, you’d also benefit on these flights from
- an extra piece of hold luggage up to 20kg
- business class check in
- priority baggage
- priority boarding
You’d also get lounge access if flying from an airport where Singapore Airlines has a branded lounge, but that won’t apply to Milan – Barcelona.
You can check out the tier point earning on Singapore Airlines flights on this page of the Virgin Atlantic website.