UK Government announcement on border controls

On 27 January 2021 the UK Government announced new border controls, which you may need to be aware of if you have upcoming travel plans. The final details and start dates of the new requirements have not been confirmed, but we will continue to review any UK Government guidance and update our customers accordingly. Please continue to check our website and GOV.UK.

The new measures will require arriving travellers from selected countries with international travel bans (listed here) to isolate in government-approved hotel accommodation. Please note, Virgin Atlantic passenger flights from South Africa were temporarily suspended on 23 December 2020 and this suspension remains in effect. No other countries currently listed are served by Virgin Atlantic flights.

The Government has also announced a new ‘reason for travel’ declaration, which will be required for all departing customers from the UK. The introduction date for this is not confirmed and we will notify customers directly if they require this.

Our priority, as ever, is the health and safety of our customers and people. If you’re travelling for a permitted reason – we're here and ready to make sure you fly safe and fly well. 

For more details, please refer to the UK Government news story: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tougher-border-controls-to-protect-public-health.

Mandatory pre-departure testing for UK arrivals

The UK Government has confirmed that from 04.00 GMT on Monday 18 January, all international arrivals, including UK nationals, will be required to provide a negative Covid-19 test result before departure for England, taken up to 3 days before departure.  The UK Governement states PCR, LAMP & ANTIGEN (lateral flow) tests will be accepted. 

The new rule will come into effect later for Antigua, Barbados and St Lucia – at 0400 GMT on Thursday 21 January – to allow additional time due to limited testing infrastructure in those countries.

Please refer to the UK Government website for more information: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-testing-for-people-travelling-to-england

Virgin Atlantic is reviewing the information published by the UK Government on the new arrival testing requirement and will be contacting customers booked to travel to England who need to arrange a test. 

National lockdown announcement

The UK Government confirmed on 4 January 2021 that England will enter a national lockdown, effective immediately. This includes guidance that people can only travel internationally where they have a legally permitted reason. The Scottish Government has also confirmed new stay at home guidance, effective 5 January 2021.

We are currently reviewing our flight schedule in light of the new national restrictions and our teams will be in contact with any customers whose flights may be affected, to provide their options. Any customers who made their booking through a third party or travel agent, should contact them directly with any questions.

If we need to cancel a customer’s flight, customers will have the option to rebook or request a refund. To simplify the options for Virgin Atlantic customers, and to provide immediate peace of mind, where a flight is cancelled, we’re automatically providing a customer credit equal to the value of the trip. This credit can be used to rebook on alternative dates, allowing for two date changes, a destination change and name change, for travel all the way until 31 December 2022. If the flight is still scheduled to operate, customers have the option to rebook, with a name change and two date change fees waived, for a new travel date up until 31 December 2022.

We apologise for any disappointment or inconvenience caused to our customers and remain so grateful for your patience during these extraordinary circumstances. If you’re travelling for a permitted reason – we’re here and ready to make sure you fly safe and fly well.

Virgin Atlantic continues to review its flying programme on a regular basis, with a reduced schedule of passenger services for essential travel operating alongside cargo-only services to transport vital medical supplies and support global supply chains.

We continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation very carefully, including the latest guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). For the latest FCDO travel advice please visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

New US travel restrictions

Please be aware that from the 28th January 2021 new travel restrictions will come into place when travelling to or from the United States.

The United States government have announced that by law all passengers over the age of 2 MUST wear a face covering at all times during their time at the airport and once onboard.

If you’re not wearing a face mask at any stage or you refuse to wear a face covering, you will be refused travel and criminal or civil action or penalties will be taken against you.

There are a list of exemptions and these are included below:

  • Temporarily removing the face mask for identity verification purposes
  • While eating, drinking or taking oral medication for brief periods
  • While communicating with a person who is hearing impaired when the need for lip reading is essential for communication
  • If unconscious, incapacitated, unable to be awakened, or otherwise unable to remove the face mask without assistance
  • They are a child under 2 years old
  • A person with documented evidence from a medical professional to not wear a face mask such as a disability, mental health condition, respiratory condition or sensory sensitivity condition that prevents them from wearing a face mask.

Closure of UK travel corridors

The UK Government has announced the closure of all travel corridors from Monday 18 January at 0400 GMT, meaning that any international arrivals will need to self-isolate for 10 days or utilise the Test to Release scheme.

This will coincide with the beginning of the mandatory requirement for a negative Covid-19 test result before departure for England (with the exception of Antigua, Barbados and St Lucia, for which the rule comes into effect at 0400 GMT on Thursday 21 January).

It is vitally important that all arriving customers comply with the new testing requirement and complete the online Passenger Locator Form https://virg.in/D9h before boarding, to uphold the health and safety of our people, customers and wider public. You can fill in the form up to 48 hours before you arrive in the UK and we encourage you to do this well before you come to the airport. You may add your seat number retrospectively to the form. Failure to complete this form before reaching the UK border, and failure to have a negative Covid-19 test result, could result in a £500 fine for each non-compliance.

Please see the UK Government announcement for more information: https://virg.in/jh7

US Pre-departure Covid-19 testing

Effective 28 December 2020, the US Government is requiring all UK arrivals, including children 2 and over, to take a PCR, LAMP or antigen test taken within 72 hours before departure. See: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcement and Customer FAQ here: CDC UK Covid-19 Testing FAQs.

We strongly encourage you to arrange a Covid-19 test within three days before your flight and obtain a negative result at least one day before you arrive at the airport, due to current limited availability on-site at Heathrow. This will ensure the smoothest and simplest airport experience. Recommended test providers are published here, however you are free to use other providers as long as they meet the requirements of the U.S. Government. 

If you choose to book an on-site test with Collinson its in the Heathrow Terminal 2 facility, you must ensure to pre-book here.

In line with UK Government advice, you should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate travel to another country.

Passenger Disclosure and Attestation form

In addition from 28 December, all air travellers, 2 years* or older arriving from the UK in the US are required to complete a Passenger Disclosure and Attestation form. Please ensure this is printed, completed and carried with you when you travel as our Airport staff will need to collect it. Please see the form below: 

Passenger Disclosure and Attestation form

*a parent or guardian will need to sign on behalf of children between 2-17 years old 

See: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcement and Customer FAQ here: CDC UK Covid-19 Testing FAQs 

Read more information on the Virgin Atlantic requirement here

Returning home if you are currently abroad

As the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has warned, many countries are closing borders or adding restrictions to UK flights and may introduce new measures with little notice.

Given these changing restrictions, there is a risk that some Virgin Atlantic services may be suspended at short notice, where the destination country no longer accepts flights from the UK.

It’s essential that your contact details are up to date under My Booking so we can get in touch with you in the event of changes to your flight.

If you have a return flight home but you wish to rebook on to an earlier flight, please contact us.

If your Virgin Atlantic flight has been cancelled, there are no further services scheduled, and you intend on returning to your point of origin, we strongly urge you to take action now and register using our Away From Home form or phone us on +44 (0)344 874 7747. We can then seek to book you on to the next available flight(s) and will contact you to confirm this.

More travel news

We’re excited to be offering free, rapid, pre-departure Covid-19 testing for customers on selected flights from London Heathrow to Barbados and onwards to Antigua and Grenada starting 9 December.

All customers over the age of five years will be required to take a free lateral flow antigen test before they fly, delivered by health professionals at Collinson and Swissport’s Pre-Departure Terminal 2 facility. This type of test is used widely by the UK Government in different settings for mass-scale testing. A registered nurse will perform a nasal and throat swab which takes no more than five minutes, with your test results provided within 30 minutes. All the flight and cabin crew will also be tested.

Please note: the airport test is in addition to the current health and safety measures in place and does not replace the requirement to arrange your own RT-PCR test privately in the days prior to travel, in line with entry protocols of your destination country. The local testing requirements for Virgin Atlantic’s destinations, including Barbados, Antigua and Grenada are available on the Covid-19 travel advice hub.

This trial offers additional peace of mind to all our customers taking part and is a positive step towards removing the need for quarantining post-travel, with the information gathered contributing to the body of evidence on the effectiveness of pre-departure testing.

The tests will take place on selected flights from Heathrow to Barbados, starting 9 December. Some of these flights also continue onwards from Barbados (BGI) as a ‘double drop’ to Antigua (ANU) or Grenada (GND) and customers for these destinations will also be included in the trial. 

If this is your flight, we’ll be in touch in advance to let you know all the details, and to give you enough time to arrange to get to the airport a bit earlier. 

You’ll also be notified in My booking and via flight status.

More details about the trial and its significance can be found here in our press release.

 

The UK Government’s priority is to protect the public and stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). A key part of this is to ensure all passengers entering the UK are aware of the UK public health advice and duties, so that they can:

  • make informed decisions about whether to travel
  • arrive prepared to follow the necessary public health guidelines and comply with their duties to enter and stay in the UK

More information regarding the UK Government's advice can be found on their website

We are aware of the planned strike action on 1st, 14th, 17th and 18th December. Heathrow Airport has indicated it will activate extensive contingency plans which will keep the airport open and operating safely throughout this period. We plan to continue our operations as normal, in line with our published schedule. If we need to make any changes, we will be in touch with customers.

Hello,

Firstly, I hope that you and your loved ones are well.

As a valued customer of Virgin Atlantic I wanted to share with you an important milestone. Yesterday we achieved a major step in securing the future of Virgin Atlantic through a privately funded solvent recapitalisation plan which has been approved by the UK High Court and recognised within the US jurisdiction

The last 6 months have been the toughest in our history, as they will have been for many of you. Despite the amazing efforts of our teams, at times we have not lived up to your expectations of us. We know we need to rebuild your trust in us and we will do everything in our power to achieve that.

We have always been, and remain committed to, refunding every customer who has requested one from us. We are working hard to increase processing capability and unlock some of the systems constraints we face. Our intention is to be able to process all refunds raised in October within 30 days and, once the whole backlog is cleared, return to 7 and 14 day time frames for Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays respectively.

Returning to the skies with confidence

We continue with the restart of our passenger flying programme – with flights from Heathrow to the US - New York JFK, Miami and Los Angeles; to Barbados, Delhi, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tel Aviv as well as future flying to Lahore and Islamabad.

Our commitment is to ensure every customer flies safe and well and returns to the skies with us with confidence

We are also committed to working alongside our industry partners to unlock travel restrictions and support public health by pressing for urgent government action to enable passenger testing

I truly hope that as demand returns and confidence continues to grow, we will have the pleasure of welcoming you back on board. We remain incredibly grateful to you as valued customers

Stay safe and well,

Shai Weiss
CEO | Virgin Atlantic

There are currently temporary terminal changes at London Heathrow and a number of other airports that we fly from - find out more.

We no longer take cash payments at the airport so please bring an alternative for any additional charges or fees that may apply. This reduces the need for contact between customers and Virgin Atlantic staff, helping you fly safe and fly well.

We were saddened by the news that our longstanding agent partner, STA Travel UK, ceased trading on 21 August. If you’re an STA Travel customer, the correct advice will depend on the nature of the booking and whether the ticket has been issued.

If you’re a customer of STA Travel that had a flight-inclusive package sold by the company which included Virgin Atlantic flights, you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL scheme and you should submit a claim to ATOL through the online portal. More information is on the CAA website here: https://www.caa.co.uk/ATOL-Failures/STA-Travel-Limited/

If you have an STA Travel flight-only booking and you’ve received your e-ticket from Virgin Atlantic (the ticket number will begin with the digits 932), we want to reassure you that this means your booking remains valid and your travel plans are unchanged, assuming the flight is still scheduled. Please login to Manage My Booking to ensure your contact details are up to date so we can keep you informed.

If you have an STA Travel flight-only booking with Virgin Atlantic but the e-ticket has not been issued, we’re sorry but your booking is not complete with Virgin Atlantic and won’t be accepted for travel. Please keep checking the STA website for further details.

If you have a valid STA Travel flight-only booking with a pending refund, due to a cancelled flight, customers should complete our online refund form here  attaching a copy of their STA booking confirmation email, which shows the total paid and ticket number and your phone number. Our team will then be in touch to obtain the correct bank details for the refund to be processed. It’s taking longer than usual to process refunds due to the huge volume of requests, alongside operational constraints on our teams and systems, so we appreciate your patience. From the point the customer supplies all the necessary information and confirms correct bank details, we expect it to take a maximum of 30 days to process the refund.

If your cancelled flight was paid for with a credit card and ‘Virgin Atlantic’ appears on your statement, we can confirm this refund will be refunded back onto your credit card

Due to the ongoing situation with COVID-19 we are temporarily suspending the carriage of unaccompanied minors, aged 5 to 11 years old. This decision has been made with the health and safety of our people and customers at the front of our minds.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this temporary change in policy. We are in the process of contacting customers with bookings made for unaccompanied minors.

You may have read reports about a filing that was made on 4 August under the U.S. Chapter 15 process, in support of our solvent recapitalisation plan. Let us explain what it means for our customers.

Following our return to the skies, we’re currently operating our flying schedule from our London Heathrow base, and these flights continue as normal. All upcoming flight and holiday bookings remain valid; Flying Club members can continue to earn and redeem their miles as usual; customers with cancellations can continue to request refunds and these are being processed; and our people are ready to ensure you Fly Safe and Fly Well. If your trip is cancelled as a direct result of the Covid-19 crisis and the global travel restrictions imposed, we will be in touch.

As announced on 14 July, we have taken a big step forward in securing our future, by launching a court backed process as part of a solvent recapitalisation of the airline and holiday business. The approval process is in motion and we expect the recapitalisation to come into effect in September.

The Chapter 15 filing in the United States is a procedural application to allow the US courts to recognise the restructuring process we are undertaking – in this case, the solvent recapitalisation of the airline under English law. Once approved and implemented, our plan will keep Virgin Atlantic flying.

We look forward to welcoming you onboard soon.

Our move from Gatwick to Heathrow and retiring our 747’s and A332’s.

We’ve announced plans to reshape and resize our business to ensure that is it fit for the future, in response to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global economy, our nation and the travel and aviation industry.

We’re making some changes to optimise our network and simplify our fleet, as we aim to establish ourselves as the sustainability industry leader. As part of these changes, we’ll be moving our flying programme from London Gatwick, flying modern twin-engine aircraft from London Heathrow and Manchester – with the intention of retaining slots at London Gatwick, to allow us to return in the future. From 5 May 2020, we’re saying goodbye to seven 747-400s, and four A330-200 aircraft will be retiring in early 2022 as planned.

If you’re booked to fly with us from Gatwick, we’ll be rebooking your travel to ensure you can still get away as planned, including on flights from London Heathrow or with our partners where possible.

You’ll be able to see any changes and choose your seats in My booking as normal, or assign seats when check in opens 24 hours before departure. If you have paid for a seat in our 747 upper deck, you will be refunded.

Please note, we can’t reimburse any extra costs as a result of these changes, such as accommodation, parking or airport transfers from connecting flights. There is no V-room at London Heathrow, so any bookings will be refunded automatically. Entry to the Number 1 lounge is available here.

Upper Class customers and Gold Card holders will of course be able to access our award-winning Clubhouse at London Heathrow.

Our teams are receiving a high volume of calls at the moment, so please do bear with us – we'll be in touch as soon as we can.

What else is going on at Virgin Atlantic