Austin Bound: Virgin Atlantic Officially Launches Its New Texas Route

Virgin Atlantic has today announced a brand-new route to the United States. From May 25th, the airline will begin serving Austin, Texas, with its efficient 787 Dreamliners with a four times a week service. It will be the first time the airline has served Austin, and its first new route to the US since 2015.

Austin Bound: Virgin Atlantic Officially Launches Its New Texas Route
Virgin Atlantic is headed to Austin. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Austin is officially launched

As spotted by Simple Flying at the weekend, Virgin Atlantic is heading to a new destination in the United States. Starting May 25th, the airline will launch new four-times a week services between London’s Heathrow Airport and Austin Bergstrom International Airport (AUS). Seats went on sale over the weekend, but the route was officially announced by the airline today.

Virgin will use its 787 Dreamliner to connect the UK and Texas. Flights will operate to the following schedule:

  • VS231 departs LHR at 11:35 and arrives after ten hours and 30 minutes in AUS at 16:05
  • VS232 departs AUS at 18:05 and arrives after eight hours and 55 minutes in LHR at 09:00 the following day
Austin Bound: Virgin Atlantic Officially Launches Its New Texas Route
The airline will fly four times a week to the city. Photo: Getty Images

Speaking about the route launch today, Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic commented,

“We are incredibly excited to launch this new service to Austin, Texas. With an impressive food, arts and music scene, we know it’s a destination our customers will love to explore. The US has been our heartland for more than 37 years since our first flight to New York City in 1984. Since US borders opened to UK travellers on 8 November, it feels extra special to be launching new flying, especially to the fantastic city of Austin.

“There are so many synergies between Virgin Atlantic and the city of Austin. We love their philosophy and desire to celebrate local brands, businesses and communities and we cannot wait to welcome customers, both existing and new onboard, flying them safely to explore this fabulously quirky city.”

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Head-to-head with British Airways

Virgin is going head-to-head with fellow UK airline British Airways on this new route. The UK flag carrier had pulled Austin off the schedule due to COVID, but restarted its operations in October 2021 after a period of 17 months. Norwegian too once served the Texan city from the UK, but has since given up on its long-haul ambitions.

It’s the first time Virgin has launched a new route to the United States since 2015. Flights are on sale starting at £409 ($555) for a return in economy, up to £1,711 ($2322) in Upper Class. But as this is the Dreamliner, it is not the swanky new Upper Class that will ply the route, as that’s only on the A350.

Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Bed
The premium product on the 787 doesn’t compete with the new Upper Class on the A350. Photo: Virgin Atlantic

On the face of it, British Airways would be the better choice, as it has scheduled the A350-1000 to Austin for next summer. This aircraft does come with the carrier’s latest premium product – the new Club World suites. Virgin will also struggle to compete on frequency, as BA will fly the route daily.

Nevertheless, Virgin does bring some good stuff to the table, including its joint venture with Delta and Air France-KLM, offering more connectivity to travelers at the Austin end. Given that most passengers will be flying in economy anyway, the experience will be much of a muchness between the two airlines. And with Virgin’s arguably superior food and beverage and its inimitable playfulness, it could be a solid choice on this particular transatlantic service this summer.