This past Friday, we saw Virgin Atlantic open up reservations for its Airbus A350-1000XWB service from London Heathrow to New York JFK. According to RoutesOnline, the service will commence on September 10th. From there, the A350 will operate six weekly flights.
At first the flights will have the numbers VS153 outbound and VS138 on the return. However, this will change to VS137 outbound and VS138 return as of September 25th. RoutesOnline is also reporting that additional A350-operating service will be filed in the coming weeks.
Outbound: From September 10th to the 24th the A350 will fly flight VS153 on its usual schedule, departing London Heathrow at 1330 and arrive at 1625 at New York’s JFK airport. Then, from September 25th the A350 will fly as VS137. This departs London Heathrow at 1150 and arrives at JFK at 1450.
Return: Heading back to London Heathrow from JFK, the A350 will fly as VS138, departing JFK at 1900 and landing at 0720 the next day.
Currently, Virgin Atlantic utilizes the Airbus A330 on these routes, with the occasional A340 put in to the mix. Its VS9/VS10 service is the other way around: mostly using the A340 with the occasional A330.
We should note that plans are always subject to change depending on the operational demands of the airline.
Other airlines on this route
Here are some of the other airlines and aircraft flying between London Heathrow and JFK:
- American Airlines, flying a Boeing 777-200
- British Airways, using a Boeing 747-400
- Delta Air Lines flies an Airbus A330-200
As far as we can see, Virgin Atlantic will be the only airline flying the A350 on this route (for now!).
It appears that the Virgin Atlantic A350 will have a three class configuration:
- Upper Class: Virgin’s business class cabin and exclusively on the A350 (for now). This cabin will be sporting a brand new suite seat.
- Premium: The premium economy cabin’s seats recline by seven inches, and have a pitch of 38 inches. Seats within this section will be 18.5 inches.
- Economy: There are 235 seats in this section in a 3-3-3 configuration. There will be two types of seats in this cabin – the ‘delight seats’ with extra legroom and ‘classic and light’ with standard legroom. Seat width is 17.4 inches wide.
“Sustainable growth and meeting our carbon targets is incredibly important to us, and the aircraft’s environmental credentials were a genuine factor in our selection…We will be pairing its cutting edge customer proposition with our own Virgin magic to give customers the best possible experience.” -Sir Richard Branson
All of the A350’s seats offer two USB power sockets. With the exception of the economy cabin, all seats have an AC power socket.
Virgin made the official announcement that it would be ordering the Airbus A350 two years ago. The order is for 12 of the aircraft at a list-price value of $4.4 billion.
According to Virgin, this investment is part of its fleet modernization program which aims to replace 50% of its aircraft through 2023. This, the airline claims, will make it one of the world’s youngest fleets.
We reached out to the airline for comment. They got back to us adding:
“The aircraft will be flying by the 10th [of] September, but we’re doing all we can to make this earlier than that.”