Virgin Atlantic Airways: Wikis


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Virgin Atlantic Airways
Founded 1984
Commenced operations 22 June 1984
Frequent flyer program Flying Club
Member lounge Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse
Fleet size 37 (+31 orders)
Destinations 35
Parent company Virgin Group
Headquarters Crawley, England
Key people Sir Richard Branson (President)
Stephen Murphy (Chairman)
Steve Ridgway (CEO)

Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited (operating as Virgin Atlantic) is a British airline owned by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group (51%) and Singapore Airlines (49%). It is headquartered in Crawley, West Sussex, England, near London Gatwick Airport.

It operates between the United Kingdom and North America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia from main bases at Gatwick and London Heathrow Airport. The company holds a CAA Type A Operating Licence to carry passengers, cargo, and mail on aircraft with 20 or more seats.[1] In the year to February 2009, Virgin Atlantic carried 5.77 million passengers and made an annual profit of £68.4 million on turnover of £2,580 million.[2]



Conception and birth

Randolph Fields, an American-born lawyer, and Alan Hellary, a former chief pilot for Laker Airways, set up British Atlantic Airways as a successor to Laker Airways. Fields got the idea of an airline from London to the Falkland Islands in June 1982, when the Falklands War had just finished and there was need for a service.[3] Fields needed expertise and contacted Alan Hellary, Laker Airways' former chief pilot, who had thought about establishing a regular, commercial service to the Falklands at the same time. Hellary was in contact with colleagues out of work following the collapse of Laker Airways and they worked on the idea.

However the short runway at Port Stanley Airport and the time to improve it made the scheme unviable, so the idea of the Falklands service was dropped. Instead, Hellary and Fields tried to secure a licence from Gatwick to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. A three-day inquiry in May 1983 rejected it after British Airways, British Caledonian and BAA objected.

Hellary and Fields then applied for a licence between Gatwick and Newark Liberty International Airport. It was planned that British Atlantic Airways would use a 380-seat DC-10 to fly to Newark. However, faced with the prospect of direct competition from People Express, a post-deregulation "no frills" discount airline at Newark, they decided to secure more funding before proceeding.

Fields met Richard Branson at a party in Central London during which he proposed a business partnership. After protracted and testy negotiations, Fields agreed to a reduced stake of 25% in the airline (renamed Virgin Atlantic) and became first chairman. Following disagreements over operations, Fields agreed to be bought out for an initial sum of £1 million with further payment on Virgin's first dividend. As a result of a High Court action, this additional payment was received shortly before Fields' death from cancer in 1997.

On 22 June 1984 Virgin Atlantic operated its inaugural scheduled service between Gatwick and Newark using a leased Boeing 747-200 (G-VIRG) formerly operated by Aerolineas Argentinas. The airline became profitable during its first year, aided by sister company Virgin Records' ability to finance the lease of a secondhand Boeing 747. The firm timed operations to take advantage of a full summer, which included June to September - the most profitable period.

Formative years

In 1986, the airline added another Boeing 747 and started a scheduled route from Gatwick to Miami. Additional aircraft were acquired and routes launched from Gatwick to New York-JFK (1988), Tokyo (1989), Los Angeles (1990), Boston (1991), and Orlando (1992). In 1987 a service was launched between Luton and Dublin using Viscount turbo-prop aircraft, but this was withdrawn around 1990. In 1988, Club Air operated two Boeing 727 aircraft on behalf of Virgin. They were leased from Eastern Airlines to also serve the Luton to Dublin route. These were withdrawn around 1990 too.

Later years

In March 2000 Virgin Group sold 49% of the airline's holding company to Singapore Airlines for £600.25 million. Virgin Group still owns the remaining 51%.

In June 2002, Virgin Atlantic became the first airline to use the Airbus A340-600.

In 2003 Virgin Atlantic carried 3.8 million passengers.[4] This increased to 4.6 million in 2006, placing them seventh among UK airlines but second in passenger-miles because of the long-haul nature of operations.[5] During the 2012 Summer Olympics bids, Virgin Atlantic attached "London 2012" to the rear of many of their Boeing 747-400 fleet.

On October 31, 2005 Virgin Atlantic operated a humanitarian aid charter flight to the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad with 55 tonnes of aid for the affected by the earthquake in Pakistan.[6]

Virgin volunteered a Boeing 747 for a test of biofuels. In February 2008, it flew from Heathrow to Amsterdam, with no passengers, and 20% of power for one engine provided by plant-based biofuel. The airline said it expected to use biofuels based on algae.[7]

Rivalry with British Airways

Virgin Atlantic has been a rival of British Airways since inception, as previously British Airways had been the only airline from Britain serving long haul routes to destinations such as North America, the Caribbean and the Far East.[8]

Opening up of Heathrow

Boeing 747-400 in new colours (2009)

In January 1991, the UK opened Heathrow Airport to Virgin when it abolished the London Air Traffic Distribution Rules in response to pressure from the industry. The London Air Traffic Distribution Rules had come into effect in 1978, originally created to achieve a fairer distribution of traffic between Heathrow and Gatwick, the UK's two main international airports, to help Gatwick make a profit. The former rules stated airlines without an international scheduled service from Heathrow prior to 1 April 1977 would not be permitted operations there, instead they would have to use Gatwick. Before the abolition, airlines that did not already operate at Heathrow could commence domestic scheduled services there provided BAA, which ran both Heathrow and Gatwick on behalf of the Government, and the Secretary of State for Transport, granted permission.

The decision to open Heathrow to all newcomers in 1991 - other than those governed by Bermuda II - angered BA's chairman, Lord King, who stopped British Airways' donations to the Conservative Party in protest. Lord King was furthermore angered by the subsequent decision of the CAA to transfer two pairs of unused slots British Airways held at Tokyo's Narita International Airport to Virgin to let Virgin increase its frequency between Heathrow and Tokyo from four to six weekly round-trips, making it easier for Virgin to compete against British Airways. Lord King called the CAA's decision, which the Government had endorsed, "a confiscation of his company's property".[9]

Precarious financial position during early 1990s

According to industry insiders, Virgin Atlantic had increasing financial problems. This was primarily the result of a reduction in demand for travel caused by the recession of the early 1990s as well as by fear to travel in the aftermath of the first Gulf War. Britain's Conservative Government, which had presided over the collapse of International Leisure Group (ILG) and its subsidiary Air Europe resulting in 4,000 job losses[8] was aware that Dan-Air was on the brink of bankruptcy, and wanted to avoid the collapse of another independent British airline, especially if its profile was as high as Virgin Atlantic's. The Government decided to let Virgin Atlantic into Heathrow despite facing opposition from British Airways.

"Dirty tricks" controversy

Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340-300

The decision to abolish the London Air Traffic Distribution Rules and to let Virgin Atlantic operate at Heathrow in competition with British Airways became the trigger for BA's so-called "dirty tricks" campaign against Virgin. In 1993 BA's PR director, David Burnside, published an article in "BA News", British Airways' internal magazine, which argued that Branson's protests against British Airways were a publicity stunt. Branson sued British Airways for libel, using the services of George Carman QC. BA settled out of court when its lawyers found the lengths to which the company went to try to kill off Virgin. BA had a legal bill of up to £3m, damages to Branson of £500,000 and a further £110,000 to his airline. [10][11]

In the 1990s, Virgin Atlantic jets were painted with "No-Way BA/AA" in opposition to the attempted merger between British Airways and American Airlines. In 1997, following British Airways' announcement that it was to remove the Union Flag from its tailfins in favour of world images, Virgin introduced a union flag design on the winglets of its aircraft and changed the red dress on the Scarlet Lady on the nose of aircraft to the union flag with the tag line "Britain's Flag Carrier". This was a tongue-in-cheek challenge to BA's traditional role as the UK's flag carrier.[12]

"Although I did not have any direct contact with BA in relation to passenger fuel surcharges, I regret that, on becoming aware of the discussions, I did not take steps to stop them."

Steve Ridgway, CEO of Virgin Atlantic[13]

Relations with British Airways improved with the arrival of Rod Eddington as BA CEO though rivalry continued. Eddington replaced Robert Ayling, involved in the dirty tricks affair, who was dismissed by Lord Marshall, the long-serving BA chairman and Ayling's mentor, on behalf of BA's main institutional shareholders after BA had its first net loss since privatisation during Ayling's time during its 1999/2000 financial year.

In June 2006, a tip-off from Virgin Atlantic led US and UK competition authorities to investigate alleged price-fixing between Virgin Atlantic and British Airways.[14] In August 2007, BA was fined £271 million by the UK's Office of Fair Trading and the US Department of Justice though this was upheld on account of a guilty plea.[15] Virgin Atlantic was not fined as it was given immunity for reporting the cartel to regulators.


Virgin Atlantic operates long-haul flights with 75% from London Heathrow, with most of the remainder from London Gatwick and Manchester Airport with one seasonal flight from Glasgow International Airport.

Codeshare agreements

Virgin Atlantic has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:[16]

Airline partners

In addition to the above airlines, Virgin Atlantic has partnership alliances with:[18]


Airbus A340 in maintenance
Boeing 747-400 Lady Penelope with her birthday girl repaint. The Scarlet Lady has been enlarged and moved to the back of the aircraft
Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400 in current (2009) colours takes off from Manchester Airport, England
Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340-600 G-VYOU Emmeline Heaney

Virgin Atlantic's fleet uses both Airbus and Boeing aircraft, with an average age of 8.6 years as of March 2010.[19] Boeing 747-400s are used on all routes from Gatwick and Glasgow. Boeing 747s and Airbus A340s are used interchangeably on routes from Heathrow and Manchester.

Virgin Atlantic has orders for Boeing 787-9 and Airbus A380-800 aircraft for delivery beginning 2011 and 2013, respectively. The A380 was expected in service in 2006 but was delayed until 2009 because of problems within Airbus. Virgin deferred its order to 2013, arguing it wanted the aircraft to prove itself before it put its own into operation.[20]

The order for 15 787-9s, with options on eight more and purchase rights on 20 more, was announced on April 24, 2007. The aircraft will replace Virgin’s older A340-300s.[21] Virgin has listed Seattle, Vancouver, Bangkok, and Melbourne as possible destinations for the aircraft, saying the 787 would make possible non-stop operations from London to Perth, Australia and Honolulu, Hawaii .[22] Virgin is negotiating with Boeing and Airbus over an order for ten wide-bodied jets for the Gatwick fleet. This could be a new order for the Boeing 747-8 or for additional Airbus A380-800s. Deliveries are expected in 2012, in time for the 2012 London Olympics.[23]

Virgin Atlantic’s aircraft are painted in a red and silver livery introduced in October 2006 with the delivery of G-VRED. Near the nose of each aircraft is a pinup girl designed by British artist Ken White, called Scarlet Lady. White modeled the motif on the World War II pin-ups of Alberto Vargas — hence the naming one of the fleet Varga Girl.[citation needed] The motif was updated with the addition of the 1999 Silver livery. Each carries a Union Flag. The names are usually feminine, such as Ladybird, Island Lady and Ruby Tuesday, but some are linked to registrations (e.g. G-VFIZ—Bubbles). There are a couple of commemorative names (e.g. G-VEIL—Queen of the Skies—which was named by Queen Elizabeth II on 7 April 2004 in celebration of the centenary of the Entente Cordiale). An exception is The Spirit of Sir Freddie. An early Boeing 747, it was named in honour of Freddie Laker of Laker Airways, who helped Virgin Atlantic run following the demise of his own airline. G-VFAB—Lady Penelope—gained special livery to celebrate Virgin Atlantic’s 21st birthday. The Scarlet Lady was enlarged and moved to the rear of the aircraft, a Boeing 747-400, and the aircraft was temporarily renamed Birthday Girl.

On 27 September 2006, Branson announced plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by cutting aircraft weight and fuel consumption. There was also an experiment to have aircraft towed to the runway to save fuel, but this has not resulted in a change of operational procedures.[24]

Two Virgin Atlantic aircraft are featured in the James Bond film, Casino Royale. One Airbus A340-600 (G-VWIN) and one Boeing 747-400-along with Branson and Virgin Atlantic crew—are part of a scene at Miami International Airport (the sequence was filmed at Ruzyně International Airport in Prague).[25] Virgin Atlantic's relationship with the James Bond franchise continues in Quantum Of Solace, where James Bond and René Mathis travel to La Paz, Bolivia on board Virgin Atlantic, in Upper Class.

Virgin Atlantic’s fleet consists of the following aircraft as of November 2009:[26]

Aircraft Total Orders Options Passengers
(Upper/Premium Economy/Economy)
Airbus A330-300 0 10 0 TBA 2011
Airbus A340-300 6 0 0 240 (34/35/171) In Service
Airbus A340-600 19 0 0 308 (45/38/225) In Service
Airbus A380-800 0 6 6 TBA 2013
Boeing 747-400 12 0 0 344 (54/62/228)
451 (14/58/379)
452 (14/58/380)
In Service
Boeing 787-9 0 15 8 TBA 2013
Total 37 31 14

Retired fleet

In the past, Virgin Atlantic has operated a variety of aircraft. Its retired fleet includes:

Aircraft Total Active Notes
Airbus A320 5 1995–2004 Operated for Virgin Sun and Mainline G-OUZO.
Airbus A321 3 2000–2003 Operated for Virgin Sun and Mainline G-VATH.
Boeing 747-100 1 1990–2000 G-VMIA named 'Spirit of Sir Freddie' after Sir Freddie Laker.
Boeing 747-200 22 1984–2005 G-VIRG was Virgin's first aircraft.


"The Base" - Virgin training centre

All Virgin Atlantic aircraft are in a three-class configuration with Economy, Premium Economy, and Upper Class cabins.


Economy is the standard coach class of Virgin Atlantic. Amenities include free meals, drinks and amenity kits for all passengers. Seats have a maximum seat pitch of 31 in. (depending on the aircraft type). In addition, updated economy seats have adjustable lumbar support, and are being installed across Virgin Atlantic’s fleet.

Premium Economy

Premium Economy has a separate check-in area, priority boarding ahead of Economy passengers, a wider seat with more legroom than Economy, and additional cabin services such as a preflight drink and dedicated cabin crew. As with Economy, in November 2006, Virgin launched an updated product with a wider seat that also supplies laptop power. It is being installed across the fleet starting with Heathrow-based A340 aircraft. As of April 2009 all Airbus A340s and Heathrow Boeing 747s have the new product. The 747s based at Heathrow have an updated configuration of 62 seats all located downstairs.[27] The upper deck on London Gatwick Boeing 747s is entirely Premium Economy (the original seats), with a further two Premium Economy rows downstairs (the wash seats), between Upper Class and Economy.[28]

Upper Class

The Virgin Clubhouse at SFO, used by Upper Class passengers

Upper Class is the equivalent of business class on all Virgin Atlantic Airways’ flights. Virgin does not offer a traditional First Class cabin service.[29] The Upper Class seat is claimed by the airline to be the biggest fully flat bed of any airline’s business class service (it is approximately 202 cm long and 84 cm wide); however, Air Canada and Singapore Airlines have made similar claims.[30] The seat offers in-seat laptop power and power leads for iPods and Upper Class passengers have access to a chauffeur, drive thru check-in and private security channel (at some airports), the clubhouse (lounge), a larger menu than that of Premium Economy and Economy passengers and an in-flight bar. The seats in the Upper Class cabin are arranged in a Herringbone seating design. Seats on London Gatwick & Manchester Airport based aircraft have a smaller Upper Class cabin with 14 seats in the nose of the 747-400 aircraft whereas 747-400 aircraft based at London Heathrow are configured with a larger Upper Class cabin split over the lower and upper deck with a total number of 54 seats. A340-300 aircraft have 34 Upper Class seats whereas all A340-600 aircraft are configured with 45 Upper Class Suites.[31]

In-flight entertainment

All Virgin Atlantic aircraft offer personal seat-back televisions that provide entertainment channels. Most aircraft (some 747-400s, one A340-300, and all A340-600s) have an Audio/Video on Demand (AVOD) system called V:Port. Older "Odyssey" and "Super Nova" IFE systems can be found on aircraft in the fleet, mainly on aircraft based at London Gatwick and Manchester Airport. They both have smaller screens and display audio and video on a loop rather than broadcasting on demand.

Head office

"The Office", headquarters building in Crawley, West Sussex

Virgin Atlantic's head office, named "The Office," is located in the Business Quarter of Crawley, West Sussex, England,[32][33] near London Gatwick Airport.[34] Prior to the establishment of its current headquarters, Virgin Atlantic had its head office in the Ashdown House on High Street in Crawley.[35]

Incidents and accidents

Airbus A340-600 at Tokyo-Narita
  • On 5 November 1997, after numerous attempts to shake free the jammed main landing gear of an Airbus A340-300 G-VSKY failed, the aircraft made an emergency landing at London Heathrow Airport. The aircraft sustained major damage to the undersides of engines 1, 2 and 4 which made contact with the runway surface during landing. The runway surface was also damaged and several runway lights were broken as the right main landing gear wheels broke up during the deceleration. The aircraft was evacuated safely, with two crew members and five passengers sustaining minor injuries during the evacuation.[36]
  • On 8 February 2005, onboard an Airbus A340-600 aircraft (G-VATL) en route from Hong Kong to London, the fuel control computer system caused a loss of automatic fuel transfer between tanks. The left outboard engine lost power, and shortly after the right outboard engine also began to falter until the crew began crossfeeding fuel manually. The crew diverted to Amsterdam, where a safe landing was made. The interim accident report made four safety recommendations addressed to the primary certification bodies for large transport category aircraft (EASA and the FAA), advising on the need for a low fuel warning system for large aircraft.[37]


Over the years, Virgin has used many slogans, including:

  • "Mine's Bigger Than Yours"

Written on the back of the Airbus A340-600s because they are the longest passenger aircraft in the world[38] (but the title of the longest passenger aircraft will be claimed by the Boeing 747-8 when it officially enters passenger service in 2011).

  • "4 Engines 4 Longhaul"

Originally an Airbus slogan when newer versions of the A340 were built until Virgin inherited the slogan. The slogan was written on the engines of the planes, because all Virgin's planes at the time had four engines as opposed to BA's long haul twin-jet Boeing 777s and Boeing 767s. The slogan was removed in 2006 because it "had run its course and it was time to move on"—Virgin would later order Boeing 787 twin-jet aircraft in 2007, as well as the Airbus A330-300, another twinjet, in 2009.

  • "No Way BA/AA"

Used in the late 1990s on several 747-400s to express Branson's displeasure with the proposed British Airways/American Airlines partnership. BA/AA combined held 100% market share on several US-UK routes (e.g. Dallas-Fort Worth to London), and a market share of more than 50% in several more (e.g. Chicago to London, JFK to London). The slogan was brought back starting in September 2008 after merger talks between British Airways, Iberia Airlines and American Airlines began.[39]

  • "Still Red Hot For 25 Years"

25th anniversary slogan for 2009.

Others Include: "More experience than the name suggests," "Virgin, seeks travel companion(s)," "Love at first flight," "You never forget your first time," "Extra inches where it counts," "Fly a younger fleet," "One call does it all," "Hello gorgeous", "We're better by four" and, in a campaign featuring Austin Powers, "There's only one Virgin on this T-shirt (or bus, etc.) baby," and "Twice a day to London" in which Austin Powers is seen riding on the fuselage of a Virgin Atlantic 747. During that time G-VTOP was temporarily named "Austin Powered".

Further reading

  • Gregory, Martyn. Dirty Tricks: British Airways' Secret War Against Virgin Atlantic. New York: Virgin, 2000. ISBN 0-7535-0458-8
  • Bower, Tom. Branson. UK: Fourth Estate, 2001 ISBN 1-84115-400-8
  • Branson, Richard (2006 [2nd reprint]). Losing my Virginity - The Autobiography. London, UK: Virgin Books Ltd.. ISBN 0-7535-1020-0. 

See also


  1. ^ Operating Licence
  2. ^ "Virgin Atlantic’s £68m profit casts a cloud over British Airways". London: The Times. Retrieved 2009-05-31. 
  3. ^ West Sussex County Times, Friday, January 20, 1984 Page 1
  4. ^ "2003 UK Airline Statistics". UK CAA. Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  5. ^ "2006 UK Airline Statistics". UK CAA. Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  7. ^ "First biofuel flight touches down". 24 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-24. 
  8. ^ a b Losing my Virginity - The Autobiography., Branson, R., Virgin Books Ltd., London, 2006 (2nd reprint), p. 362
  9. ^ "Operation of the UK Traffic Distribution Rules in relation to all-cargo services at London Heathrow Airport" (PDF). BAA Heathrow. Retrieved 2009-02-12. 
  10. ^, 11 January, 1993 - BA dirty tricks against Virgin cost £3m
  11. ^
  12. ^ Virgin's battle of Britain with BA BBC News. 7 June 1999
  13. ^ Osborne, Alistair. "Virgin boss caught up in BA price fixing case". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  14. ^ Virgin tip-off 'led to BA probe' BBC News. 23 June 2006
  15. ^ US judge upholds BA's $300m fine BBC News. 23 August 2007
  16. ^ Virgin Atlantic - Our Destinations - Codeshare Destinations
  17. ^
  18. ^ Virgin Atlantic Airways - Flying Club - Partner Airlines
  19. ^ "Virgin Atlantic fleet". Retrieved 2008-03-10. 
  20. ^ Goldstein, Steve (October 26, 2006). "Virgin Atlantic to delay A380 deliveries until 2013". Dow Jones MarketWatch. Retrieved 2006-10-26. 
  21. ^ "Virgin Reveals Dreamliner order". Airliner World: p. 4. June 2007. 
  22. ^ Virgin Atlantic Press Release dated 24 April 2007
  23. ^, 18 October, 2007 - Virgin Atlantic In Talks Over 10 Long-haul Planes
  24. ^ [1]
  25. ^ "James Bond Seeks Out Virgin Atlantic for "Casino Royale" Assignment," Virgin Atlantic press release, 4 July 2006.
  26. ^ Virgin Atlantic Fleet - UK CAA Aircraft Register
  27. ^ Virgin Atlantic 747-400 seating configuration 3. Retrieved on October 20, 2007.
  28. ^ Virgin Atlantic 747-400 seating configuration 1. Retrieved on September 5, 2008.
  29. ^ Expedia Travel Manager Resource Center
  30. ^ Singapore Airlines "The largest full-flat bed in Business Class"
  31. ^
  32. ^ Barrett, Claer. "Airport town is flying, but tragedy may take its toll." Property Week. 10 May 2001. Retrieved on 14 December 2009.
  33. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. 3–9 April 2001. 98.
  34. ^ "Our Offices Around the World." Virgin Atlantic. Retrieved on 19 May 2009.
  35. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. 26 March 1988. 125.
  36. ^ "Report on the accident to Airbus A340-311, G-VSKY, at London Heathrow Airport on 5 November 1997". UK AAIB. Retrieved 2009-03-14. 
  37. ^ "Airbus A340-642, G-VATL". UK AAIB. Retrieved 2007-07-26. 
  38. ^ Image of G-VSHY in 2002 with slogan Mine's Bigger Than Yours
  39. ^ Wardell, Jane (2008-09-12). "Virgin attempts to block BA-American-Iberia deal". Forbes. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 

External links

Simple English

Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. (running as Virgin Atlantic) is an airline that is based in the United Kingdom. Virgin Atlantic is owned by 2 companies: Virgin Group and Singapore Airlines. Virgin Atalntic flies aeroplanes from its main base at London Heathrow Airport and London Gatwick Airport to many places like the USA, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. Virgin Atlantic flew 5.1 million people in 2007 and made a profit of £46.8 million in 2007.


Where Virgin Atlantic Flies

Over 75% of Virgin Atlantic's flights fly from London Heathrow Airport. Most of the rest fly from London Gatwick Airport, Manchester Airport or Glasgow Airport.

Virgin flies to nine cities in the USA, nine cities in the Caribbean, five cities in Africa, five cities in Asia and to Sydney in Australia.


Virgin Atlantic has lots of partners. Here is a list of them:

  • LIAT
  • Malaysian Airlines
  • Scandinavian Airlines
  • US Airways


Also, Virgin Atlantic has codesharing partnerships with these airlines:[1]

  • South African Airways
  • Virgin Blue
  • Bulgaria Air


Virgin Atlantic has been talking to Lufthansa about bmi. Lufthansa has said that it wants to sell bmi because it is not making enough money. bmi is part of the Star Alliance (a group of airlines that help each other), but Virgin Atlantic is not. If Virgin Atlantic buys bmi, they may join Star Alliance. This means that they can compete against British Airways on the London Heathrow Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport route. British Airways is part of oneworld (a rival airline group).


Virgin Atlantic owns 25 Airbus A340 aeroplanes and 13 Boeing 747 aeroplanes. It also has three orders: one order is for 6 Airbus A380 aeroplanes, another order is for 10 Airbus A330 aeroplanes and the last order is for 15 Boeing 787 aeroplanes. The 787 aircraft should be delivered first in the year 2011. The A380 aircraft should be delivered in the year 2013. The A330 aircraft should be delivered in 2011.

Virgin Atlantic used to have some other aircraft too. It used to own 5 Airbus A320s, 3 Airbus A321s, 1 Boeing 747-100, 22 Boeing 747-200s and 4 Vickers Viscounts. Virgin Atlantic's first plane was a Boeing 747-200.

Inside the Aeroplanes

Virgin Atlantic uses three different classes on their aeroplanes: Economy, Premium Economy and Upper Class.


Economy class is the standard class on Virgin Atlantic aircraft. It is the cheapest part of the aeroplane to travel in. Passengers usually get a free meal, some drinks and a bag with gifts in like a toothbrush. The seats in this class have a maximum pitch of 31 in, but this depends on what aeroplane you go in.

Premium Economy

Passengers that use Premium Economy have their own check-in area, get to board before Economy passengers, a drink before the flight, get their own cabin crew and get a better seat. The seat it wider and has a larger pitch.

In November 2006, Virgin made a new seat. It is wider than the old one and has a plug for laptops. It is being put on all planes and now, all Airbus A340s and all Boeing 747s that fly from London Heathrow Airport have the new seats.

Upper Class

Upper Class is the name for Virgin Atlantic's business class. They do not have a first class service. Virgin says the seats are the biggest lie flat beds on any business class (it is 202 cm long and 84 cm wide), but Air Canada and Singapore Airlines have said this too.[3] The seats have plugs for laptops and iPods.

File:Virgin Atlantic
The Virgin Clubhouse at San Francisco Airport, used by Upper Class passengers

Upper Class passengers can also have their own chauffeur, drive-thru check-in, their own security points at some airports, access to the Virgin Clubhouse (a special VIP area, with a bar and seats), a larger menu for in-flight meals and a bar that passengers can stand up or sit down at in flight.

In-flight Entertainment

All the seats on all the aircraft have screens in the back of the seats to provide entertainment for passengers. Most aeroplanes have a newer system where the passengers can choose what they want to watch called V:Port. Older systems called "Odyssey" and "Super Nova" just offer different channels for the passengers to pick from. The screens on the older systems are also smaller.

Other pages

Other Virgin Airlines

  • V Australia
  • Virgin America
  • Virgin Blue
  • Virgin Express
  • Virgin Sun Airlines


  1. Virgin Atlantic - Our Destinations - Codeshare Destinations
  3. "Singapore Airlines New Business Class Seat". Singapore Airlines. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 

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