Virgin Atlantic - delays are not travellers' major concern
History and recent development
Virgin Atlantic's history begins in 1984 when its founding fathers Raldolph Fields and former Laker Airways pilot Alan Hellary decided to set up an airline named “British Atlantic Airways” as a successor to Laker Airways which had filed for bankruptcy in 1982. After some initial difficulties with licenses and securing funding, they proposed a partnership with business magnate, Richard Branson. In June 1984, scheduled service was taken up between London-Gatwick and Newark by the airline whose official name was now “Virgin Atlantic”. In the following years, Virgin Atlantic steadily grew and became a major rival of British Airways, especially on long-haul routes on which British Airways practically had the monopoly until the 1980s. Virgin Atlantic encountered financial problems in the early 1990s, due to the recession and reduced demand after the Gulf War. The rivalry between British Airways and Virgin Atlantic increased during this period, with aggressive campaigning on both sides. The development of Virgin Atlantic has been overall positive in the past years, after losses in the aftermath of the 2008/2009 global financial crisis. In 2013, Virgin Atlantic was able to increase its turnover from 2012, but it has not yet returned to the profit zone. In terms of passenger volume, it is the seventh-largest airline in the United Kingdom.
Virgin Atlantic operates a fleet of 38 aircrafts, the average age being 9.6 years as of February 2014. From its main hubs in Gatwick Airport (LGW) and London-Heathrow (LHR), it operates a network of destinations in North America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Middle East and has taken up domestic services since March 2013, serving a total of more than 30 destinations. A clear focus of this network are the transatlantic routes, with ten destinations in the USA and Canada served, including Boston (BOS), Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK) and Vancouver (YVR). Other destinations are, for example, Sydney (SYD), Mumbai (BOM) and Delhi (DEL), Barbados (BGI) and Havana (HAV). While Virgin Atlantic is not a member of any major airline alliance, it does have code-share agreements with sixteen airlines, including All Nippon Airways, Jet Airways, Scandinavian Airlines, Air China, Transaero and Air New Zealand. The airline offers its own frequent flyer bonus program, Flying Club.
Services and quality of service
The SKYTRAX audit in October 2012 has restored Virgin Atlantic as a four-star airline, after it had temporarily been downgraded in 2011. It is rated with 3.5 stars in economy class, four stars in premium economy and 4.5 stars in business class. Therefore, only those in higher classes actually benefit from the four-star service. Customers report mixed experiences with the airline, both regarding the friendliness and the professionalism of the crew and ground staff. The meals are perceived of as excellent primarily in business class, in economy and premium economy classes, passengers frequently complain that there is little choice and the meals are small and not of the best quality.
Delays and Cancellations
With an on-time performance of 74%, Virgin Atlantic hardly excels at punctuality. Of all 26% delayed flights, 10% are excessively delayed, meaning by more than 45 minutes, and another 4% are delayed by 30 to 45 minutes. The cancellation quota amounts to 1% of all flights being cancelled, which is not high, but not excellent performance concerning cancellations. Nonetheless, passengers hardly refer to delays and cancellations, the service problems emphasized in reviews mostly concern the quality of meals, friendliness of staff and comfort of seats. It appears that these problems are not a major concern of travellers, even though Virgin Atlantic does perform below average in the field of delays and cancellations according to statistics on FlightStats.
Despite these good flight statistics, delays are still a problem facing many passengers. If you have been one of the few to experience a flight delay, cancellation or overbooking on Virgin Atlantic, click below and let Flightright help you claim your rightful compensation!