I’m not a huge fan of the Virgin “brand” as such, but I do love Virgin Atlantic. While their hard product is only okay, I love just about every aspect of their experience.
Their Clubhouse Lounges are probably my favorite business class lounges in the world (though Qatar Airways’ new Al Mourjan Lounge in Doha serves Krug and is definitely in the running for title of the world’s best business class lounge), and among the only lounges I’ve visited that are actively fun to be in.
In late 2012, Delta and Virgin Atlantic announced their transatlantic joint venture, which was great news for SkyMiles members, whether you were looking to earn or redeem miles. One of the most exciting new options was to be able to redeem SkyMiles for transatlantic travel in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class without fuel surcharges.
Initially SkyMiles members only seemed to have access to a small subset of Virgin Atlantic’s award space. However, lately Delta SkyMiles seems to have access to almost all of Virgin Atlantic’s award space, which is great news and makes SkyMiles more valuable, in my book.
This brings me to the major network changes which Virgin Atlantic has just announced.
Virgin Atlantic will be launching the following new transatlantic flights:
- A fifth daily service from London Heathrow to New York JFK
- A new daily service from London Heathrow to Detroit offering new connections across North and Central USA such as Cincinnati, New Orleans, Memphis and Indianapolis*
- An additional daily service from London Heathrow to Los Angeles
- A second daily service during the summer season from London Heathrow to Atlanta
- An additional summer seasonal service from London Heathrow to San Francisco flying five times a week
- A second daily service during the winter season from London Heathrow to Miami
- A daily service from Manchester to Atlanta.+
Beyond that, Delta will also be adding the following transatlantic flights:
- Delta will operate one of our existing London Heathrow to Newark services**
- Delta will launch a new daily service from Manchester to New York JFK in summer 2015.
Not surprisingly, the planes for these new Virgin Atlantic flights have to come from somewhere, so the following flights will be discontinued:
- A withdrawal of operations to Tokyo Narita with the final flight from London to Narita on 31 January 2015 and the final flight from Narita to London on 01 February 2015.
- A withdrawal of operations to Mumbai with the final flight from London to Mumbai on 31 January 2015 and the final flight from Mumbai to London on 01 February 2015.
- The summer seasonal service from London Heathrow to Vancouver will not return after this season’s flying programme is completed on 11 October 2014.
- The winter seasonal service to Cape Town will operate as planned in winter 2014/15 but will not be renewed the following winter. The final flight from London to Cape Town will be on 26 April 2015 and the final flight from Cape Town to London on 27 April 2015.
Why does this matter? Because these new flights haven’t yet been loaded into the GDS, though should be in the coming days. Once they do, I wouldn’t be surprised if the new flights have a fair amount of award space, which you can potentially redeem Delta SkyMiles for.
I’ll post an update in case I see anything major, but in the meantime I figured their new transatlantic focus is quite interesting. I’m guessing the transatlantic joint venture is working quite well for them based on the amount of expansion and route swapping we’re seeing.