Flybe partners with Virgin Atlantic to offer new destinations for Scottish travellers

Leading European regional airline Flybe has announced a partnership with Virgin Atlantic to offer Scottish travellers new flight services to international destinations including Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Dubai.

Under the partnership, new Flybe flights from Aberdeen and Edinburgh will connect customers onto Virgin Atlantic flights to the US, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. In this connection, the two airlines have extended their codeshare agreement to include London Heathrow. The new Flybe codeshare flights to London Heathrow will operate starting March 26, offering four services per day from Edinburgh Airport, and up to three services per day from Aberdeen Airport.

Passengers will be able to book tickets to travel from Edinburgh and Aberdeen with Flybe, and connect onto Virgin Atlantic flights at London Heathrow. The agreement will allow passengers to connect between Flybe and Virgin Atlantic with a single check in and bag drop.

The new flights are now on sale at

Erik Varwijk, Executive Vice President, Commercial, Virgin Atlantic commented: ‘Our partnership with Flybe will bring the world a little closer to Scotland with exciting new Virgin Atlantic destinations available across the US, Asia, and Africa. The extended codeshare agreement builds on the partnership we announced last year which has proved popular with customers across the UK.

‘We look forward to offering easy connections to some of our most popular destinations such as the US cities of San Francisco and Boston, as well as helping to boost business and investment with access to major hubs such as Hong Kong and Dubai.’

Vincent Hodder, Flybe’s Chief Revenue Officer, added: ‘Flybe is especially delighted that this extension of our valued codeshare partnership with Virgin will enable us to better serve Scottish travellers and global visitors, further realising our ambition of being a ‘One Stop to the World’ for the UK regions.

‘We greatly look forward to cementing our commitment to Scotland and welcoming even more Virgin passengers on board our new Heathrow flights from Aberdeen and Edinburgh when they start at the end of March.’

The new destinations on offer from Aberdeen and Edinburgh via London Heathrow include Los Angeles with fares starting from £498 return, San Francisco from £498 return, Boston from £398 return, Washington from £418 return and Hong Kong from £445 return, Flybe said.

Delta, Virgin Atlantic revise Summer 2017 schedule, offer new Portland- London service

Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic have announced changes to their respective summer 2017 schedules to optimise their joint network between the United States and the United Kingdom.

The move seeks to offer customers more travel choices and flexibility. In 2015, the JV connected almost 400,000 customers to over 200 destinations in the U.S., on around 550 routes.

As per the revised plan, Delta will commence a new four times a week service from Portland, Oregon to London Heathrow on May 26, 2017, the first between this U.S. West Coast city and London. 

Beginning March 26, 2017, the US-based airline will add a second Detroit to London Heathrow service, replacing Virgin Atlantic’s daily Detroit to London Heathrow service. The airline will also operate a third Atlanta to London Heathrow service, replacing the second daily service currently operated by Virgin Atlantic, beginning May 25, 2017. Virgin Atlantic will continue to operate one daily Atlanta to London Heathrow service.

Beginning March 26, 2017, Virgin Atlantic will start flying between Seattle and London Heathrow, replacing the daily service currently operated by Delta. In addition, the UK-based airline will launch a daily nonstop service between New York-JFK and Manchester on May 25, 201, replacing the service currently operated by Delta. Delta will resume service for winter 2017.

Erik Varwijk, Executive Vice President, Commercial, Virgin Atlantic said: ‘We are delighted to further optimize our joint services between the U.K. and the U.S. Our most fuel efficient Boeing 787-9 aircraft will add additional capacity to the successful Seattle route, enabling more customers to enjoy the Virgin Atlantic experience on this brand new aircraft. In Manchester, deploying our Airbus A330-300 aircraft on this route will allow us to further meet the growing demand from the Manchester market, now offering a total of six direct flights to the U.S. after the recently announced new services to Boston and San Francisco. The network changes highlight the strength and flexibility of our joint venture, allowing us to make smart decisions that ensure the right aircraft are on the right routes for our customers.’

Commenting on the changes, Dwight James, Delta’s Senior Vice President Trans-Atlantic said: ‘Adding a brand new service to Portland while increasing the scale of Delta’s reach across our Atlanta and Detroit hubs provides a comprehensive network of nonstop and connecting destinations for both Delta and Virgin customers. The flexibility to adjust our operations on routes between the U.K. and the U.S. is a solid reflection of the cohesive strategy we have across the trans-Atlantic. Since 2014, we have been building a partnership that is centered around the needs of our customers while providing network synergies for our airlines.’

With the changes, starting March 26, 2017, the airlines’ joint summer 2017 schedule will feature a total of 42 peak daily nonstop flights between the U.S. and the U.K. Of these, 28 flights will operate between London Heathrow and popular U.S. destinations such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta and Washington and 14 flights will operate between Manchester, Glasgow, Belfast, London Gatwick and Edinburgh to popular U.S. cities, Delta said in a release.

Virgin Atlantic extends Glasgow-Orlando winter service

Leading British airline Virgin Atlantic will extend its Glasgow – Orlando service to meet high demand, according to a report by the Daily Record.

The airline said that it will add a new Friday flight to its winter 2016 schedule, which will offer more than 7,000 seats in the November 2016 to March 2017 winter season. Virgin Atlantic added that the new winter flights will serve alongside its three times a week summer service between Glasgow and Florida.

Commenting on the plan, Erik Varwijk, executive vice president of commercial at Virgin Atlantic, said: ‘We’re delighted to be offering our customers more choice when flying to some of their favourite destinations.

‘Florida is enduringly popular with our customers, so it makes perfect sense to increase this service during the most popular months.’

Steven Marshall, marketing manager at Glasgow Airport, added: ‘This is fantastic news for Scottish travellers looking to get away to America’s sunshine state next winter from Scotland’s largest city.

‘It demonstrates the popularity of Virgin Atlantic’s existing Orlando summer service which has grown every year since it launched at Glasgow Airport in 2007. Indeed – a great announcement to start off the airport’s 50 anniversary year.’

The new service is part of Virgin Atlantic’s joint venture with Delta Air Lines, which seeks to expand the trans-Atlantic route network between the UK and North America.

Separately, the Mirror reported that Virgin Atlantic has cut its fuel surcharge by £20 following the drop in oil prices. The saving, on return flights, will apply to future bookings, it said.

The move comes after complaints that airlines have not been passing the drop in oil costs on to customers.

‘Although we buy our fuel months and years in advance – meaning that recent falls in the price of oil do not immediately impact costs – we have decided to, again, lower our fuel charge by £20 per return journey for customers. Overall, our prices have reduced by £70 per trip per person since fuel prices began to fall.’ Virgin.

New London train services from Sunderland and Sterling introduced by Virgin Trains

Virgin Trains East Coast launched a new range of services to London yesterday from Stirling and Sunderland in response to passenger demand for more early morning departures, Rail Technology Magazine has reported.

A number of local dignitaries travelled on-board both inaugural services, with the rail minister, Claire Perry MP, meeting the new Sunderland service at London King’s Cross Station. She also named the Virgin Train ‘Spirit of Sunderland’.

David Horne, managing director of Virgin Trains on its east coast route, said: ‘This is a hugely exciting day for us as we launch more services, and add Sunderland to the Virgin rail map.’

Virgin Trains has also announced that with immediate effect that it will operate a new evening service between Hull and Doncaster. The new service is intended to open up new travel opportunities for customers seeking to travel to London.

Perry said: ‘It is fantastic to see the start of these new services from Sunderland and Stirling. As a one nation government, we know that transport doesn’t just help hardworking people get around, it helps them get on.

‘These new services will provide better journeys for customers and boost economic ties between Scotland, the north east and London, stimulating growth and helping rebalance our economy.’

A fleet of 65 new Virgin Trains will also be introduced on the East Coast Main Line from 2018 under the Intercity Express Programme. These trains are being built by Hitachi at its plant in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.



Sunderland to London


Sunderland dep: 05:40


London King’s Cross arr: 09.08


Stirling to London


Stirling dep: 05:26


London King’s Cross arr: 10.52


Hull to Doncaster


Hull dep: 20:28


Brough dep: 20:42


Selby dep: 21:03


Doncaster dep: 21.22

Delta, Virgin announce new route between New York JFK and Edinburgh

Delta and Virgin Atlantic Airways will commence a daily service from Edinburgh Airport direct to New York JFK starting May 27, 2016.

With the addition of Delta’s service to New York, passengers will have increased choice in both direct routes to New York, as well as better connectivity across all of North America via Delta’s extensive network and Sky Team alliance at New York JFK.

Gordon Dewar, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Airport, said, ‘Edinburgh to New York is a flagship route between two vibrant economic and cultural power houses. The strong bonds between Scotland and America are well known and we look forward to welcoming even more inbound visitors from throughout America to Scotland’s capital city, and similarly assist more Scots in visiting North America.’

Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, Keith Brown, said: ‘Scotland and the United States share strong cultural and economic bonds, so this new direct service between Edinburgh and New York will only serve to strengthen these links.

‘Of course, we could attract more direct international flights like this to Scotland by cutting rates of Air Passenger Duty, and I once again call on the UK Government to transfer these powers to the Scottish Parliament as soon as possible.’

Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland added: ‘We are delighted that Delta has chosen to launch a direct service from New York to Edinburgh. The United States continues to be our biggest international market for inbound tourism but there is always room for growth. Direct route improvements over the last two years have helped boost visitor numbers and this new route will tap in to Delta’s vast North American network opening up even more opportunities for US visitors to come to Scotland.’

The airline will offer all passengers on-demand access to in-flight entertainment and Wi-Fi connectivity throughout the aircraft. Those travelling in the Delta One cabin will also benefit from full flat-bed seats and a range of personalised dining options.

Virgin Atlantic introduces 787-9 Dreamliner on Delhi-London route

British airline Virgin Atlantic is operating its 787-9 Dreamliner on the Delhi-London route – the first European carrier to operate the larger Boeing aircraft on this flight.

Virgin Atlantic operates seven daily flights every week from Delhi to London with many onward connections, including New York.

Passengers travelling on the maiden 787-9 Dreamliner flight to London from Delhi on March 31 were offered the chance to take a ‘First Flight Selfie’ whilst checking-in and boarding the flight from Delhi IGI airport. Virgin Atlantic has recently introduced the ultimate #SkyhighSelfie on its 787 aircraft, offering customers the opportunity to check in on Facebook and share their photos from 35,000 feet.

‘We’ve been serving and delighting our customers for 15 years from Delhi and the launch of the Dreamliner, with our latest cabin interiors, further demonstrates our commitment to India and enables us to build on the success of our Delhi route,’ Nick Parker, Head of India and Middle East for Virgin Atlantic said.

‘We know our Indian customers are going to love flying our Dreamliner. Every aspect has been meticulously designed to enhance their experience; not only seats and social spaces, inflight entertainment and Wi-Fi, but we’ve also invested in other areas that are so important to customers, including the onboard meal services. I’m delighted to confirm that we’ve increased the number of our fantastic local Indian crew on each flight, who along with our exceptional airport team, will deliver the personalised Virgin Atlantic service that our customers so love,’ he added.

The 787-9 Dreamliners are configured with 31 Upper Class, 35 Premium Economy and 198 Economy seats. Features offered onboard include access to Wi-Fi connectivity, the latest in-flight entertainment, dynamic mood lighting and cabin windows 65 percent larger than the industry standard.


Virgin Atlantic to offer 70Mb broadband services in -flight

Passengers travelling with Virgin Atlantic will soon be able to enjoy ultra-fast broadband services in-flight.

Global aero communications service provider Gogo has announced a partnership with Virgin Atlantic, owned by Sir Richard Branson, to offer in-flight connectivity services on Virgin Atlantic’s existing fleet of aircraft. With the agreement, the airline will become the first European carrier to offer Gogo’s 2Ku in-flight broadband solution, which offers download speeds of up to 70Mb over a local Wi-Fi network – from mid-2015.

‘Virgin Atlantic is on the cutting edge when it comes to delivering technology solutions to their passengers and we’re extremely excited to deliver the best connectivity solutions to keep their passengers connected anywhere they fly around the world,’ said Michael Small, Gogo’s president and CEO. ‘Virgin Atlantic’s relationship with Delta Air Lines will also allow us to build a seamless experience for passengers who fly both airlines.’

Reuben Arnold, Brand and Customer Engagement Director at Virgin Atlantic said: ‘We’re always looking at ways to enhance the on board experience for our customers and expanding in-flight connectivity across our fleet is just one of the ways in which we are doing this. We were impressed with Gogo’s connectivity solution and look forward to all of our customers being able to enjoy this service whilst they fly.’

The in-flight ultra-fast Wi-Fi is being launched as part of a £300 million fleet upgrade undertaken by Virgin Atlantic to improve customer experience.

Virgin Atlantic had earlier this month announced plans to update its network and make significant investment into the Virgin Atlantic customer experience. Under the plan, the airline has identified opportunities for investment into its transatlantic schedule, increasing its presence in the key UK – US travel market to maximise the benefits of its joint venture partnership with Delta Air Lines. The network changes will deliver up to five new daily transatlantic flights and see over 500 more Virgin Atlantic flights operate in summer 2015 compared to summer 2014.

Passengers and taxpayers ‘winners’ in new Virgin Trains West Coast contract

Virgin Trains, a UK-based train operator and a subsidiary of the Virgin group of companies, has claimed in a release on its website that passengers and taxpayers are the winners after its signing of a deal with the UK’s Department of Transport to operate the West Coast rail franchise.

The new deal will see Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin company operating the West Coast franchise until March 2017, with an option of a one-year extension. In return, the company is promising thousands of extra seats each day, free superfast WiFi for all customers, new direct services planned from London to Shrewsbury and Blackpool, a rewards programme to add value for passengers, and payments to the taxpayer boosted by 58 percent.

2,100 net extra seats per day will be created by converting the First Class carriages of 21 Virgin trains to Standard Class. This will increase the number of Standard Class seats by 5,500 per day.

All 76 of Virgin’s Pendalino and Super Voyager trains will gain superfast Wifi, an innovation supported by rail authority, Network Rail, which intends to provide the necessary trackside infrastructure.

The new direct services from London to Shrewsbury and Blackpool are expected to commence from December this year.

With the customer reward programme, customers that book tickets via the Virgin Trains website or mobile app will be able to earn Nectar points on their purchase by the end of summer.

The contract will see the Department of Transport receive a guaranteed £430 million from Virgin during the contract period, a 58 percent increase per annum. The DfT will also receive up to 100 percent of additional returns generated by Virgin Trains.

Patrick McCall, Virgin Trains executive co-chairman, said: ‘We’re delighted to have reached a deal after some tough negotiations with the DFT. It puts the problems of 2012 firmly behind us, and shows the clear benefits of a well-run franchise system.’


Airbnb tops traditional travel providers in online user experience

Relative newcomer Airbnb is ahead of traditional travel providers such as Virgin Atlantic and Thomas Cook in providing a first class digital user experience, according to independent research by user experience agency Webcredible.

The research followed a preliminary survey of over 500 British travel buyers, which found that 85% prefer to book their holidays online. Of these, 60% have eventually given up on their purchase and 79% have switched to a different travel provider due to challenges in the user journey.

In response, Webcredible conducted a review comparing how different types of travel providers deliver customer experience for users researching and booking holiday travel and accommodation online.

In its Travel Industry User Experience report, Webcredible mapped the online user journey and evaluated the usability of top travel providers’ websites and mobile applications. From a user’s perspective the travel providers were benchmarked against eight heuristics. The eight user experience heuristics were divided into a three step user journey, from discovery and inspiration to making a decision and then booking.

Under ‘Discovery and Inspiration,’ aspects covering researching for travel, providing review and recommendations as well as integration with social media channels were assessed. ‘Decision Making’ reviewed features such as providing accurate and timely travel information and product detail, e-mail marketing and the use of consistent branding across all channels and devices. And finally, ‘Booking’ assessed the site usability and the online booking process.

Against each heuristic, the travel providers were assigned a score and ranked in a travel user experience index.

Airbnb ranked first overall due to their exceptional website usability, simple booking processes and research options. Whereas traditional travel provider Thomas Cook came last due to the lack of brand interaction, poor use of email marketing and confusing booking processes. Other travel providers evaluated include, Virgin Atlantic, TripAdvisor,, Expedia, easyJet and Kuoni.

Webcredible Founder and CEO, Trenton Moss says: ‘Brands are generally providing a very high standard of online and app usability. There is room for improvement in some areas particularly among traditional/longstanding providers, possibly due to more complex internal operations. With mobile and social usage only set to increase, there is a new generation of providers ready to fill the niche in the online travel market.

‘It is no longer enough to simply have an online presence. The travel industry needs to capitalise on the vast opportunities available to interact and guide the consumer at every digital touchpoint and stage of their journey when booking a holiday.’

Virgin Holidays to challenge hotel liability claim

Virgin Holiday is appealing the court decision by a holidaymaker who claimed compensation for injuries after walking into a plate glass door in her bikini, The Telegraph has reported.

Moira Japp, was on the balcony of her suite at the Crystal Cove Hotel, in Barbados, and was wearing only her swimsuit, when she accidentally walked into the closed French windows leading into her room. The glass shattered and she suffered deep cuts all over her body.

Mrs. Japp sued Virgin Holidays in 2012. The operator was ordered to pay the 53-year-old £24,000 in damages, as it was judged that it should have ensured that the hotel was safe.

Virgin Holidays is challenging the decision at the Court of Appeal, saying that if upheld, the judgment would ‘create great difficulties for the tourist industry’ in applying British health and safety standards to foreign countries.

Sarah Prager, the lawyer representing Virgin Holidays, said in the Telegraph: ‘Travel agents, when they send people off abroad, if they are told that facilities have to comply with English notions of reasonableness that is going to create great difficulties for the English tourist industry in general.

‘Exporting English standards of reasonableness would give rise to lack of clarity – some nations are more risk averse than others.’

However Andrew Spencer, representing Mrs Japp, argued, saying: ‘When people book a package holiday, they are entitled to expect that the facilities are not unsafe.’

Mrs Japp, from Worthing, West Sussex, said: ‘It was a very small balcony and I am a very small person, and you don’t get much momentum going by walking about three feet. I was cut all over.’

Simon Lomax, a specialist in travel law, reportedly said that the cost of such claims was likely to be passed on to consumers in the form of price increases by holiday groups.

Judges are set to decide on the appeal at a later date.