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Virgin Atlantic launching flights to Pakistan — here's what that means for the U.S.

Aug. 27, 2020
3 min read
Virgin Atlantic launching flights to Pakistan — here's what that means for the U.S.
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Virgin Atlantic has today announced it will be launching three new, nonstop routes to Pakistan in December. The airline will commence flights from London Heathrow (LHR) to Islamabad (ISB) and Lahore (LHE), as well as from Manchester (MAN) to Islamabad, subject to regulatory approvals.

The airline also hopes to connect travelers between Pakistan and the United States, via its Heathrow and Manchester hubs.

The surprise announcement of the new routes comes at a time when airlines worldwide reduce services and slash routes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Virgin Atlantic has been hit particularly hard as many destinations in its existing route network -- such as the United States and South Africa -- are currently not allowing entry to British travelers.

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Related: Virgin Atlantic to temporarily suspend passenger operations

Pre-pandemic, Pakistan flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines had maintained a substantial route network between the United Kingdom and Pakistan. PIA has since been banned from flying to Europe (including the U.K.) for the remainder of 2020 following a review of the airline's safety practices by the European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA). A PIA Airbus A320 crashed in May 2020 in Pakistan with 97 passengers and crew killed. An investigation revealed the captain and first officer failed to follow standard safety procedures, or recognize alarms. The EASA also understands a "high number" of PIA pilots licenses are invalid.

TPG flew PIA's premium product last year and had a disappointing experience from start to finish.

The ban on PIA represents an opening for Virgin Atlantic to commence flying between the two countries for the first time.

“Pakistan is an extremely exciting opportunity for us – it boasts one of the largest foreign-born populations in both the UK and the US and, as people start to travel to visit loved ones, we’re anticipating the demand to visit friends and relatives will increase post COVID-19" Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic explained. "Both Lahore and Islamabad are popular year-round destinations and we look forward to welcoming travelers onboard as demand for leisure and business travel gradually increases to the region."

Related: 5 things I wish I’d known before traveling to Pakistan

These new flights are due to go on sale in September. Schedules, frequencies and aircraft type are yet to be announced.

Featured image by Getty Images

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  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
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Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases