Virgin Atlantic is launching a new route to America going head to head with British Airways
Virgin Atlantic is beginning to load seats on a new route with service to Austin, Texas, from London, England, beginning in late May of this year.
The route will operate four times weekly with service from London Heathrow (LHR) to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS).
The flight will operate Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays and is expected to begin on May 25. The flights will be operated by a 787-9 Dreamliner. TPG reached out to Virgin Atlantic for details but didn't hear back by press time. A check of Cirium showed the flights are not loaded yet.
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The news was first reported by One Mile at a Time.
You might want to wait to book it since Google Flights is pricing the itinerary at $5,317 right now ... in coach.
If you want to book Upper Class you can do it via Google or on Virgin Atlantic's website, too, though that itinerary will cost you more than $16,000!
Once prices come down, it might be a chance to give this airline a chance, especially if it becomes bookable with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles.
Right now, Virgin Atlantic is giving status matches to Gold or Silver status, depending on the elite status you have now. You'll need to open a Flying Club membership if you don't already have one, and then, submit a request at this special landing page.
Related: The ultimate Virgin Atlantic Flying Club guide
It's an interesting route for Virgin Atlantic. Competitor British Airways also flies the route (originally launched in 2014) and announced it will begin daily service come summertime.
Related: British Airways Club World business class to Austin flight review
Virgin Atlantic is a major partner of Delta Air Lines. In fact, Delta owns 49% of Virgin.
"It certainly makes sense for Delta and Virgin to offer this route in theory since Austin is a focus city for Delta and adding the Austin-London flight will help delta be a stronger competitor to American which also has a focus city in Austin," said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and president of Atmosphere Research, in an interview with TPG.
Harteveldt continued, "But it's going to take a lot of work for Delta and Virgin to make the route successful. You only have one other non-stop, but the challenge ... is this route is going to be heavily dependent on business travel and given the uncertainty it's unclear how many business people will be traveling."
He was also a bit worried about the competitive landscape for Virgin and Delta in Texas.
"One thing that BA and AA have going for them is that I suspect American has a much larger base of AAdvantage members in the Austin area compared to Delta's base of SkyMiles members," Harteveldt said. He also mentioned that BA has a hub at London Heathrow ... "allowing it to provide connections throughout the U.K., Europe and elsewhere. Virgin Atlantic doesn't enjoy that benefit."