Skip to main content

Virgin Atlantic’s only gone and hit the big 4-0! Now, we love a lot of airlines (they’re our bread and butter!) and like a parent we probably shouldn’t pick favourites…but we’ve always had a big ol’ crush on that iconic shade of red.

40 years of Virgin Atlantic in numbers

Virgin’s done a lot in 40 years, from their very first flight from London Gatwick to Newark in 1984, to their brand-spankin’ new Airbus A380neos. They were the first to introduce onboard bars (thank god!), the idea of premium economy, and they even came up with the idea of using your spare foreign dosh as charity donations! Genius, that one.

They’ve had 5 uniform changes, including collabs with Vivienne Westwood, and 2022 saw their policy updated to give cabin crew the option to wear either whichever gendered uniform they fancied. This was after they’d already scrapped the rules around make-up, and allowed cabin crew to have their tattoos on show.

Speaking of crew, they’ve had a whopping 7,000 of them over the last 4 decades – let’s just say they don’t have a problem with recruiting! And with more than 35 routes under their belt too, they’re more well-travelled than Michael Palin.

Their most impressive number, though? They’ve poured over 2.1 MILLION glasses of champers. Well, we think that’s impressive, anyway.

Professional pond-hoppers

Their bread and butter. Their PB&J. Their biscuits ‘n’ gravy. Virgin Atlantic and North America go together like Dolly Parton and Kenny Rodgers.

Since that first flight to Newark on a second-hand Boeing 747, Virgin now have 15 routes to the USA, including a shiny new one from Manchester to Viva Las Vegas. And we know people love flying Virgin to the states ‘cos when we asked them they couldn’t shut up about ’em! If that wasn’t enough, we even did a deep dive into some cold hard numbers on the best long haul airlines, and Virgin Atlantic came out top dog for North America on that count too.

But don’t forget the Caribbean! We know we said the first Virgin flight was London to Newark, but if you wanna get technical, it was actually from Puerto Rico to, fittingly, the Virgin Islands. The story goes like this: Richard Branson was stuck on the ground in Puerto Rico but trying to reach the Virgin Islands. He did some quick maths, realised it would cost around $35 per passenger to charter their own flight, and started walking up and down the aisle selling tickets. When he got home, he rang up Boeing to ask about getting one of their planes second-hand. Virgin Atlantic was born.

True to their origins, Virgin Atlantic are a massive player in the Caribbean today, with 8 routes to paradise. They even do island-hopping now too, from Barbados to Grenada and St Vincent. Handy.

Breaking records and carbon counts

In November 2023, Virgin Atlantic hopped across the pond from London to New York on the first ever flight to operate on 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel.

Flight100, a Boeing 787 using Rolls-Royce engines (for the aviation nerds out there), didn’t need any engine, airframe or fuel infrastructure changes, and it operated on safety standards equivalent to every other commercial flight in the air today.

Want some hard facts? Using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel saved the lifecycle equivalent of 95 tonnes of CO2 (think of it as 54 cars off the road for a year, or the energy consumption of 33 UK homes) – that’s 64% of the emissions of a bog-standard London Heathrow to New York JFK flight. Those savings go beyond the flight though – it’s hoped that Sustainable Aviation Fuel could improve air quality back down on the ground at airports, as well as reducing contrails – that’s the white streaks in the sky, to us laymen.

Did someone say Retreat Suite?

Exclusive to the shiny new Airbus A330neo, the Retreat Suites are just pure indulgence and come with major bragging points.

You’ll find them right at the front of their Upper Class cabin – but only two of them. Virgin’s most spacious suites yet, each one comes with an ottoman that doubles up as an extra seat, so up to 4 of you can all sit around and have a proper dinner in your own private space – or just catch something on the very generous 27″ touchscreen (that’s a whopping 10 inches more than even Upper Class – oh, we love a screen measuring contest!) It comes with a sliding door too – those never get old.

Baby, you’re a firework: Where to celebrate the 4th of July

| general | No Comments
It's a pretty important day for our mates over in the States - it's their big ol' birthday (as Brits,…

Summer in Las Vegas: Things to do and how to stay cool

| general, Las Vegas, Things to do | No Comments
As the UK basks in grey clouds and disappointing temperatures, trade the drizzle for some serious dazzle and try summer…

40 Year Old Virgin: Virgin Atlantic turns 40!

| Airlines, general, Virgin Atlantic | No Comments
Virgin Atlantic's only gone and hit the big 4-0! Now, we love a lot of airlines (they're our bread and…