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Virgin Atlantic: no business class on 'Little Red' flights in UK

By John Walton     Filed under: Virgin Atlantic, london, Heathrow, UK, Manchester, United Kingdom, Edinburgh, Aberdeen

Virgin Atlantic is gearing up for UK domestic flights from London to regional economic hubs Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Manchester, but they won't sport business class -- the Airbus A320 jets are filled from tip to tail with economy seats.

Virgin will lease the planes needed for these flights from Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus, and those jets will come in an all-economy arrangement.

Australian Business Traveller can confirm there won't even be a Eurobusiness-style option where the middle seat is kept free.

"The aircraft are all one cabin and one service" an airline spokeswoman told Australian Business Traveller, adding "No middle seat free."

The spokeswoman was unable to advise which lounges would be available to Upper Class passengers and  Flying Club Gold-tier frequent flyers at Heathrow's T1, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Manchester, saying "we are still in discussions."

However, she was able to confirm that passengers arriving into Heathrow's T3 on the daily VS201 service won't need to wrangle their checked luggage off the belt at T3 and shepherd it to T1, with "lLuggage be checked through from origin to destination."

Virgin's Manchester flights will begin on 31 March and Scotland services starting in April, with tickets going on sale this week.

"The timings will also give the most attractive offering to passengers travelling direct between London and the UK regions," Virgin Atlantic promises, "with flights spread at key points throughout the day including morning arrivals into Heathrow to give business travellers a full day in the capital and an early morning departure from London to Edinburgh for business visits to the Scottish capital."

That early morning departure will suit Australian passengers arriving on VS201 from Sydney via Hong Kong, which gets in at 0450.

UK flights will run from London Heathrow's Terminal 1 -- quashing hopes of using Virgin's world-class Terminal 3 Clubhouse lounge to freshen up before your onward flight to Europe. Your best bet will be to stop into the Terminal 3 Revivals lounge in T3 before heading on to T1.

Virgin has said that there will be lounge space available in London, Scotland and Manchester for its Flying Club Gold-tier frequent flyers and passengers connecting to and from Upper Class passengers, but this looks like being a contract lounge situation.

We'll keep you posted on developments — for the very latest, follow us on Twitter: we're @AusBT.


About John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 11/12/12 by MattStevenson

Any word on lounge access for Velocity Gold & Plat in T1? That would be the deal breaker for me.

1 on 11/12/12 by John

That was one of my questions to Virgin Atlantic's people first thing this morning, Matt, but we've not heard back. My gut feeling would be "unlikely", since it'll probably be a contract lounge, but if Virgin build their own it's a possibility.

1 on 11/12/12 by MattStevenson

Yeah that's what I was thinking. Virgin desperately needs a European partner, and if VS set up something good for DJ FF's, I can see it being excellent.

2 on 11/12/12 by NEquine

They could always use the old BMI lounge that is in T1 as you make the long trek down to Gate 8 where I assume Virgin will be based?

1 on 11/12/12 by John

You mean the ones that BA took over?

1 on 12/12/12 by NEquine

BA didn't take over the Manchester lounge, it got closed.

1 on 12/12/12 by John

No, I meant the Heathrow T1 ones, which I nosed around the day they swapped over to BA from BMI.

2 on 11/12/12 by NEquine

There is no need for business for UK flights as you are only on the plane for round about an hour.

Really looking forward to using the Virgin planes so we can get our luggage transferred now onto VA flights rather than the current hassle you have when using BA/Virgin.

1 on 11/12/12 by John

The same could be said for Sydney-Melbourne or Sydney-Brisbane flights, yet the pointy end of Australian domestic flights is well subscribed.

It seems inconsistent to transfer from the personal space, privacy and comfort of Upper Class just to get on a regular economy seat.

1 on 12/12/12 by NEquine

I see where you are coming from but even BA gave up on that idea a long time ago.  BMI regional did/does still have business class but there is no difference in the seat/legroom all you get is a meal included in the price while the rest make do with a free drink and a packet of crisps/shortbread.


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