When Will Virgin Atlantic’s Airbus A350 Enter Service?

Virgin Atlantic has the keys to its new ride, and is gassing up the tanks ready for its first mission. With inaugural service earmarked for less than a month’s time, here’s what you need to know about getting on board that very special first flight.

Virgin A350
When can you get on the Virgin Atlantic A350? Photo: Virgin

If you’re as excited as we are to get a close up look at Virgin Atlantic’s shiny new A350-1000, you haven’t got long to wait. First services are set to launch in under four weeks’ time, with the carrier operating the new bird on the flagship London to New York route.

G-VLUX ‘Red Velvet’ arrived at Gatwick Airport last weekend. Some were confused as to why it went to Gatwick when the inaugural flight will be from Heathrow. The likelihood is that it’s a whole lot easier for Virgin to have it close to their HQ in Crawley than on the other side of London, and of course, they needed to apply that all-important new Virgin icon to the side of the plane!

Nevertheless, the initial flights will be from Heathrow, so if you’re really lucky, you might get to see it in the skies over London prior to its first flight as it ferries from one airport to the other.

Virgin’s first A350 flights

The very first flight on a Virgin liveried A350-1000 will take place on September 10th, 2019. The flight, VS153, will leave Heathrow at 13:30, arriving in New York JFK at 16:25. Following a leisurely two and a half hour turnaround, the aircraft will be ready to take off again at 19:00, arriving at LHR the following day at 07:20 in the morning.

The first A350 will operate LHR to JFK. So will the second, and the third… Photo: Virgin

This schedule continues on a six times a week basis up until September 24th, when the second A350 will enter rotation. From November 5th, an additional A350 service will launch, bringing the daily operating schedule to three flights a day, with two on Tuesdays.

From the 9th December, all four of this year’s quota of A350s should be at home with their new owner. From that point onwards, Virgin will run no less than four flights per day between London Heathrow and New York JFK.

Get me on that flight!

If you want to be one of the first to check out Virgin’s latest acquisition, you’d better be quick. Tickets for the flights have been on sale since July, but is still showing as available on the Virgin website.

When Will Virgin Atlantic’s Airbus A350 Enter Service?

In economy, tickets are only a few quid more than the lowest priced transatlantic fares. This cabin will be adequately comfortable, with 235 seats in a 3-3-3 configuration. IFE screens are 11.6 inches wide, and all seats have USB power sockets

Simple comfort in economy. Photo: Virgin

Premium economy pricing is on a par with any other flight on that day. Why would you take an aging Virgin A340 when you can take a brand new A350 XWB for the same price? Here, you’ll find 56 seats in a 2-4-2 layout, with a generous pitch of 38 inches and eight inches of recline. IFE screens as slightly larger at 13.3 inches and power is both AC and USB provided.

A touch of class in premium. Photo: Virgin

But where the smart money is headed has to be that revamped Upper Class cabin. It’s not the cheapest way to cross the Atlantic by any means, but is in line with business class offerings from a number of other carriers. As you’d expect, it comes with direct aisle access, massive 18.5 inch IFE screens and a lie flat electronically operated bed.

Nothing but the best in Upper Class. Photo: Virgin

This Upper Class product is, for now, only available on the A350. There’s something to be said for being the very first person to ever take a nap in one of those gorgeous suites!

Oh to be the first! Photo: Virgin

Just for Upper Class passengers, there’s a unique bar area known as ‘The Loft’. Here, passengers can chat, chill, drink or doze under the gaze of a gold plated chandelier and a huge 32 inch screen. The TV can be connected to with Bluetooth headsets, allowing groups to share a movie, enjoy a concert or even have a silent disco!

Chill out in The Loft. Photo: Virgin

Inaugural flights are always special, both to the airline and the passengers on board. No doubt Virgin will celebrate their launch in a typically Virgin way; that could mean cake, cocktails or something totally outrageous. If you’re keen to take the Virgin A350’s first flight, there’s still time to get your ticket. Simple Flying can’t wait to step on board the Virgin A350 ourselves and will be sure to bring you all the juicy details as soon as we do.