Virgin Atlantic Announces First South American Codeshare

Virgin Atlantic is spreading its wings and heading to South America. The UK airline is starting flights between London Heathrow and Sao Paulo Guarulhos. Flights are set to start on March 29th, 2020, using 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. In addition, Virgin Atlantic has signed a codeshare agreement with powerhouse Brazilian airline GOL, seeing Virgin Atlantic flight numbers appear on 37 GOL Brazilian destinations including Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and Recife.

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Virgin Atlantic’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner is heading to Sao Paulo in 2020. Photo: Virgin Atlantic.

According to a report in Airways Magazine, both airlines will offer seamless transfers, identical baggage allowances, and reciprocal frequent flyer program benefits to passengers. Further, there are plans for an expansion of the codeshare agreement into other South American countries GOL flies to.

The Sao Paulo flight details

Virgin Atlantic will offer daily flights to Sao Paulo, flying through the night both ways. The London-Sao Paulo-London flight schedule will be as follows:

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Virgin Atlantic’s 787-9 Dreamliners can fly 258 passengers. 31 upper-class passengers are accommodated in a 1-1-1 configuration at the front of the aircraft. 35 premium economy passengers are seated midway along the aircraft in a 2-3-2 configuration. 192 economy class passengers will be split across two cabins in a 3-3-3 configuration. 36 of these economy class seats are designated Economy Delight seats and the remainder are Economy Classic seats.

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In a statement provided to Simple Flying, Virgin Atlantic said;

“We’re delighted to announce our codeshare agreement with GOL. Brazil is such a rich and diverse country and we’ll be able to offer seamless connections for customers from our brand new London Heathrow to Sao Paulo service onto 37 destinations across Brazil. With flights on sale from Tuesday 10th September 2019 and the first flight on 29 March 2020, customers will soon be able to enjoy Virgin Atlantic’s signature service to South America’s largest country.”

A little background on GOL

GOL is Brazil’s largest domestic carrier offering over 700 daily flights. Sao Paulo is its largest hub. It flies to nearly 70 destinations, mostly Brazilian cities, but it also scoots around South and Central America, the Carribean and the United States (Orlando and Miami).

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Source: GOL Airlines

GOL currently flies 126 aircraft, all variations of Boeing 737s, with the majority being 737-800 aircraft. It has seven 737 MAXs sitting idle and a further 93 on order. GOL commenced flying from Sao Paulo in early 2001, operating as a low-cost carrier.

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GOL will offer codesharing to 37 destinations in Brazil. Photo: Nicolas Fagundes Figueiredo via Wikimedia Commons.

GOL has since moved more mid-market, offering four different economy class products on its domestic flights; promo, light, plus, and max.

Entry-level promo fares are non-refundable, non-changeable, and do not include seat selection or checked-in bags. Light fares are a little more flexible, allowing flight changes for a fee. Seat selection and checked-in bags are not included in light fares. Plus fares allow a free checked-in bag and seat selection. You can change to an earlier flight free of charge.

No shows, cancellations, and other flight changes can be accommodated for a fee. The max fares allow the most flexibility. In addition to two free checked-in bags and seat selection, you can change flights, reschedule, cancel and no-show without penalty. You are also offered priority boarding, priority bags and free access to GOL+ Conforto seats. These seats are in the first five rows of the plane and offer extra legroom and substantially greater recline.

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GOL differentiates its economy cabin with four different four types. Photo: Leandro Ciuffo via Flickr.

Regardless of fare type, all GOL passengers have access to WiFi, inflight entertainment, complimentary drinks and snacks. More substantial meals are available for sale on longer flights.

Brazil is a rich and diverse country. As Virgin Atlantic notes, their new flights down to Sao Paulo will open up an array of interesting destination in the world’s fifth-largest country.

And Virgin Atlantic can now tick off flying to five of the world’s seven continents.

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