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Virgin Atlantic confirms new Tampa route – all dates bookable for rewards from Wednesday 13th

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Virgin Atlantic has confirmed the story we covered a couple of weeks ago – that it is launching a new route to Tampa in Florida. The airline has been allocated Heathrow slots forfeited by Aeroflot.

This is the first new route launched by Virgin since it decided to follow BA and open up 12 guaranteed reward seats on every flight.

This means that, next Wednesday 13th, you will be able to book reward seats for any date, even peak Christmas and school holiday dates, up to mid June 2023. Virgin Atlantic lets you book 331 days ahead.

As a reminder, Virgin Atlantic opens up:

  • 2 x Upper Class seats
  • 2 x Premium Economy seats
  • 8 x Economy seats

When will the Tampa flights operate?

The route will launch on 3rd November 2022, initially with four flights per week.

From 28th November 2022, the service will become daily.

The flight times are:

  • Outbound: VS129, departing at 13.25 and arriving at 18.35
  • Inbound: VS130, departing at 20.50 and arriving at 10.15 the next day

The press release did not specify which aircraft type will be used – we will need to see when tickets go on sale. If it is an A350 it will have the new Upper Class suite, although I think this is unlikely. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tampa make use of the brand new A330neos arriving later this year, which will have an ‘advanced’ version of the Upper Class suite.

There are currently no flights to Tampa from London Heathrow, with the existing British Airways service operating from London Gatwick. Even if you have no interest in the Florida theme parks, Tampa is convenient for destinations such as Clearwater, St Petersburg and Sarasota.

Seats will be available from Wednesday 13th July for both cash and Virgin Points. I don’t know if Virgin releases seats on the dot of at 1am BST (ie midnight GMT) or not – hopefully someone can confirm in the comments.

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (May 2024)

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 18,000 Virgin Points and the free card has a bonus of 3,000 Virgin Points):

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

18,000 bonus points and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

3,000 bonus points, no fee and 1 point for every £1 you spend 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.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 40,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 40,000 Virgin Points.

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points 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 sign-up 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 (8)

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

  • JL says:

    Re timing for redemption seat releases – historically (pre Covid this is), the seats seemed to randomly appear in the mornings, sometimes around 7am and sometimes later around 10am ish, and they might bulk release a few days worth at a time. I was watching for JNB / CPT flights to drop in, and there would be nothing new, then on say Tuesday they would release seats for flights T- 331, 330 and 329. No idea if that has now changed/ will change with the new guaranteed availability

  • Roger W says:

    Good news although I would not want to be spending 3 hours on the phone booking using the 2-4-1 voucher if you can find out at all if you have recieved it. Virgin Atlantic’s practices around that are shocking making it almost impossible to find out if you have it…. let alone contact them.

    You can get some cruises from Tampa too.

    • Gromit says:

      Agree, trying to confirm upgrade reward voucher validity (with the various covid extensions) and/or trying to get through on the phone to actually use the companion reward voucher now that they have made more seats available is stupidly difficult.

    • Alan says:

      Managed to get through in 20 min yesterday – had been rebooked on a poorly scheduled flight, after some pressing they moved me onto a different A350 one.

  • Richie says:

    Does the coast near Tampa have some good sunset drinks/dinner opportunities?

  • laughingplace says:

    Excellent news. TPA a great gateway to Florida. It would be nice to see an airline fly direct into north Florida/panhandle, spent some time around the panhandle a few years back and it was phenomenal. Some of the best beaches I’ve seen.

    • Paul says:

      +1 to that! Definitely the best beaches and water anywhere in Florida, so long as there’s no red tide 😳

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

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