Virgin Atlantic is relaunching passenger flights after a three-month-long hiatus due to the outbreak of the pandemic. Flights will resume from London’s Heathrow on Monday to Hong Kong, and on Tuesday to New York’s JFK and Los Angeles. The airline says it will observe some social distancing, and every passenger will receive a Health Pack containing three medical-grade masks.
Having just recently secured a much-needed privately secured bailout of about £1.2 billion ($1.5 billion) from a conglomerate of benefactors, Virgin Atlantic feels confident enough for wind beneath its wings again.
Starting today, the carrier is back to serving three destinations from its base at London Heathrow. Furthermore, it intends to add more routes over the following three months, including Lagos, Tel Aviv, Barbados, and Orlando (from Manchester as well as LHR.)
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Hong Kong, JFK, and LAX thrice weekly
Beginning today and tomorrow, Virgin Atlantic will serve Hong Kong, New York’s JFK, and Los Angeles-LAX three times a week. The airline said that safe distancing would be “adhered to wherever possible,” and face masks would be mandatory for all passengers.
In regards to the latter, it is taking it a step further than most airlines, and providing three masks per passenger in its onboard Health Pack. This is prudent for long-haul services, as there is evidence suggesting that masks need to be changed every few hours to remain effective. Other than the medical-grade masks, the kit also contains surface wipes and sanitizer.
Corneel Koster, Virgin Atlantic’s Chief Customer Officer said in a statement sent to Simple Flying,
“We will always ensure that health and safety remain our number one priority, whilst keeping our signature Virgin spirit and I am proud of all our teams who have been working tirelessly to implement new measures and evolve our customer experience. We are looking forward to welcoming customers back onboard, taking them to the skies safely and in true Virgin Atlantic style”
Designated isolation areas
The long-haul carrier said that it would be performing pro-active health screenings pre-flight, using online questionnaires and in-person interviews. However, there are designated isolation areas in place for each flight, should any passenger or crew begin to display symptoms while onboard.
The airline said it would adhere to social distancing at check-in, and board only a small group of passengers at a time.
Virgin Atlantic has also upped its cleaning game ahead of the relaunch. Aircraft cabins are now electrostatically fogged before each flight, and surfaces cleaned with hospital-grade disinfectant.
Modified meal service
In order to minimize passenger and crew interaction, the airline has modified its meal service. Economy and premium economy customers will receive a “Fly safe, eat well” meal box with a choice of two hot meals, cheese, and biscuits as well as a dessert pot with a choice of beverage, sans, or with alcohol (albeit limited selection).
We can’t wait to take you back to the skies. We’ve introduced lots of extra measures to keep you safe and sound as you leave the ground. From face masks and enhanced cleaning to a redesigned food service and social spacing on board, you’re in safe hands: https://t.co/GLIDVwyuzo pic.twitter.com/phgiSL4yKW
— virginatlantic (@VirginAtlantic) July 20, 2020
Upper Class passengers will have a choice of three hot meals, served by their seat on a tray. Of course, they also get the cheese and biscuits, dessert and drinks. All customers also receive a second meal service. The airline has removed inflight magazines and suspended onboard shopping services.
Have you missed Virgin Atlantic and its services? Does providing a larger number of masks for passengers make you feel safer in the air? Let us know in the comments.