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Virgin Atlantic (re)launches flights to Sao Paulo and Bengaluru

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Virgin Atlantic has been on a route-launching spree. Just last week, it announced it was returning to Dubai after a four year gap as well as the return of its Manchester – Las Vegas flights. Later this year will see the start of flights to the Maldives and Turks & Caicos.

One route that has been notably absent was Sao Paulo. This was a flight that was originally due to launch in Spring 2020 but was nixed by covid.

It would have been Virgin Atlantic’s first foray into South America, and a departure from its largely North American flights.

Virgin Atlantic launches Sao Paulo flights

It’s no surprise that Sao Paulo is back on the cards, particularly as Virgin Atlantic and LATAM announced a codeshare back in January 2022. If anything, it’s taken surprisingly long to relaunch.

In addition, Virgin Atlantic is also launching flights to Bengaluru in India.

Virgin Atlantic launches flights to Sao Paulo, Brazil

Here are the details:

  • Flights will launch on 13th May 2024, with a daily service all year round
  • Seats, for cash and Virgin Points, will be bookable from August – do NOT try to book today
  • The route will use a Boeing 787-9, which means you are getting the old-style Upper Class seat, unfortunately. The layout is 31 Upper Class, 35 Premium and 192 Economy Delight / Classic / Light.

The flight timings are significantly better than what was planned for 2020:

  • VS193 departs Heathrow at 12:45pm and arrives in Sao Paulo at 8:20pm
  • VS194 departs Sao Paulo at 10:10pm and lands in London at 1:25pm the following day

This gives Virgin Atlantic a quick turnaround time of around two hours in Sao Paulo, which is pretty efficient for a long haul flight like this.

If you’re a Strictly Come Dancing fan, Virgin Atlantic has made a spoof samba safety video featuring AJ Pritchard and Anton Du Beke which you can find here (YouTube).

Virgin Atlantic announces flights to Bangalore

Virgin Atlantic is also launching Bengaluru

Virgin Atlantic is also launching flights to Bengaluru (Bangalore). As India’s IT capital, this is a natural addition to Virgin Atlantic’s existing routes to Delhi and Mumbai. Since 2019, Virgin’s Indian network has grown by 250%, with Bengaluru becoming the fourth daily service.

Here are the details:

  • Flights will launch on 31st March 2024, with a daily service all year round
  • Seats, for cash and Virgin Points, will be bookable from 14th June – do NOT try to book today
  • The route will use a Boeing 787-9, which again means you are getting the old-style Upper Class seat, unfortunately.

Virgin Atlantic has a codeshare with IndiGo which you can use to connect onto 34 domestic destinations on the same ticket, whilst earning additional Virgin Points and tier points.

Here are the flight timings:

  • VS316 departs Heathrow at 11:45am and arrives in Bengaluru at 2:15am the following day
  • VS317 departs Bengaluru at 4:05am and arrives in London at 10:15am the same day.

It’s an early start for anyone coming back, but again it does maximise the use of the aircraft with just a two hour turnaround.


The last few months have seen some aggressive expansion by Virgin Atlantic, with six exciting new routes due to launch in the next 12 months.

The airline is doubling down on key leisure markets such as the Maldives and Turks & Caicos whilst also going after BA’s lunch on business-driven routes to Brazil and India.

This is an interesting strategy change from pre-covid when Virgin Atlantic was in a period of contraction. However, joining SkyTeam and the launch of the transatlantic joint venture with Delta, Air France and KLM means the maths is changing. Virgin now has access to deeper feeder networks and new connectivity options.

I imagine these routes are enabled by the arrival of new aircraft – the A330neo – which is increasing Virgin Atlantic’s overall capacity. Unfortunately neither of these flights will be operated by the neo, which has my favourite Upper Class suite.

On both of these new routes, Virgin Atlantic will be up against British Airways. To Sao Paulo it will also compete with LATAM, although the codeshare will presumably take the edge off that one and could eventually turn into a revenue sharing joint venture.

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (September 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):

SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard is doubled to 30,000 Virgin Points if you apply by 2nd October. You receive 15,000 Virgin Points with your first purchase and a further 15,000 points if you spend £3,000 within 90 days. Apply here.

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 bonus points (SPECIAL OFFER TO 2ND OCTOBER) 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.

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 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 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 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 (45)

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

  • Gentle Giant says:

    For me it’s great news. Having taken the LHR-GRU route over 36 times in the last 13 years, I know the operator offerings quite well. Both BA and Latam are underwhelming, monopoly attitude, poor quality flights. As I am a leisure traveller, bang for buck is important, so me and my family have been using AF, LX, and even ITA (all biz). Even Tap has upped it’s game.
    Saying the flights would be for mainly commercial passengers is not quite true – there are tens of thousands of Brasileiros in Europe/UK with Italian/Spanish/Portuguese passports. It’s a big market. Well done VA!

    • CC says:

      I stopped reading at “even Tap has upped it’s [sic] game.”

    • Mike says:

      I found LATAM to be decent. The hard product on LHR-GRU is good, certainly a million times better than CW. Food, muh, but I generally don’t like plane food. I preferred LATAM Business to GRU than SWISS Business to GRU but they were fairly similar. Either way, competition is good, it’s not like fares to GRU are particularly cheap.

  • Chris W says:

    What are virgins plans for their 787 upper class cabins? I can understand these planes operating leisure routes to the Caribbean and Orlando but how do they justify using these seats on high profile routes in 2023?

    • Rob says:

      I think once you see all the new aircraft in situ there will be better demarcation.

      Running those buckets on JFK at £10k return is a joke.

  • Sunil says:

    For once I am excited that I got a prediction on future virgin Atlantic route right on Bangalore. (When Pakistan route was planned for termination)

    Which network flights does virgin use as feeder (domestic) flights like BA from Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow for London flights ?

    • Rhys says:

      It relies on its partners such as Delta, Air France, KLM.

      • Sunil says:

        In short, outside London will find it challenging to access these Virgin Atlantic flights. people like me outside London are stuck with BA for now then 🙂

  • CC says:

    Exactly. I’d be very hesitant to book a connection flight with less than 2 1/2 hours to spare (to account for even minor delays, queues in immigration/customs/check-in/security/etc); ie looking at close 11pm. Not many options from that time.
    Btw: I am Brazilian, and know how large the country is, and how transport and airports work there.

  • MM says:

    @Rob/Rhys Along side this new, have Virgin also changed their upgrade miles pricing? I was looking at upgrading a flight a few days ago, and came back to the website to check the miles levels and they seem to have changed

  • Felipe says:

    “The flight timings are significantly better…”
    They are horrible! You lose a day of work in London and then you had to pay for a hotel in Sao Paulo since there’s no flights so late anymore, and if there are, you’re going to arrive pretty late in your final destination. A boring 11 hours flight should be always done at night!

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

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