Virgin Atlantic’s First Airbus A350 Flight Lands In New York

Today is the day we’ve all been waiting for. Virgin Atlantic’s hotly-anticipated A350-1000, G-VLUX (or Red Velvet to her friends) was scheduled to take its first revenue flight. After a relatively smooth start, albeit with a small delay, flight VS153 touched down safely at New York’s JFK Airport, with some very, very happy passengers on board.

Virgin Atlantic A350 icon
Virgin’s A350 has arrived in New York! Photo: James Oats | @SpeedbirdUK

She made it! G-VLUX, Virgin Atlantic’s first A350-1000 has successfully completed its first revenue flight, landing into JFK in New York at just after 4:30pm today. Let’s see how it all went.

Red Velvet landed
Red Velvet’s route today. Image: Flight Radar 24

At Heathrow

While BA had a big send off for its first A350, complete with media, CEO and more, Virgin’s first flight went down somewhat quietly. No sign of Shai Weiss or any press around; perhaps they’re saving that for another day?

It does look like Rachels Kitchen provided some pretty sweet looking cupcakes for the event. I mean, what’s an inaugural without a bit of cake?

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Captain Chris Pohl was clearly delighted to be flying the A350 for the very first time, sharing this short introduction on his Instagram:

Although more details may emerge later from the departure, it pretty much looks like it was a rather sedate affair. On the plus side, it all seemed to go smoothly, at least until it was time to push back.

A slow start

Things didn’t go entirely to plan at Heathrow, as there was a slight delay to departure. According to a passenger on board, the tug allocated to move Red Velvet into position broke down, meaning another tug had to move that tug out of the way before the A350 could get on its way!

For the passengers, it was all very entertaining, however, as they enjoyed all the action on the underbelly forward-facing camera.


Despite this little hiccup, the flight was soon on its way, pushing back from the stand onto a rather empty LHR apron (as one commenter pointed out, no BA planes around to spoil the photos!).


VS153 left LHR at 14:25, almost an hour after its scheduled departure time of 13:30. A kind ATC shared a short clip of the perfect takeoff into gloomy skies over London.

In flight

Clearly, passengers had a lot to love on this inaugural flight of the A350. From the new cabins to the new tailcam and, of course, that amazing Upper Class product, the feedback on the flight was good from all angles.

New Upper Class
First bottoms on those gorgeous Upper Class seats. Photo: Virgin/Instagram

Our friend Gilbert Ogg over at God Save The Points gave us a cool (and very fast) tour of the cabins as he boarded the plane.


Clearly, those in Upper Class were over the moon with the new cabin. From the leather upholstery to the massive 18.5” IFE screen, this was a treat to enjoy. The lie flat bed wil have proved enjoyable for a nap, although this was a daytime flight, so is yet to be fully put through its paces.


But it wasn’t only the premium passengers who were super happy with the experience. This passenger, who appears (I think) to be in economy, or possibly Economy Delight, calls the A350 a ‘limo’ and says she is ‘in awe’!

Welcome to JFK!

Seven hours and 14 minutes later, G-VLUX landed safely at New York’s JFK Airport. According to Flight Radar 24, Red Velvet touched down at 16:39, just 14 minutes behind schedule.

We don’t have any info on how the A350 was received in New York. They may have been a fuss, or it may have proceeded somewhat quietly. Were you on VS153 today? Let us know if you were – we’d love to hear all about your experience.

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