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.
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 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 (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.
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.
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.
Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into 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.)