Following the announcement by the United States Administration that it will relax air travel restrictions for vaccinated travellers from the 26 Schengen Area countries from some point in November, Virgin Atlantic reports it enjoyed an immediate surge in transatlantic flight bookings. The airline says that it saw bookings to the USA increase by over 600% compared to the previous week.
Of those bookings, the airline saw its London to New York route receive the most bookings of any of its US city destinations. The airline’s leisure destinations also performed well, with Orlando flights up 11-fold, Miami 9-fold and Las Vegas 8-fold.
“Following the gradual relaxation of travel restrictions, we’ve seen demand increase to many of our global destinations, but the USA has always been our heartland,” said Juha Jarvinen, chief commercial officer at Virgin Atlantic. “We are simply not Virgin without the Atlantic and I’m thrilled we’re finally able to return to the country that’s so important to us. We’ve missed flying our customers to the USA and we can’t wait to welcome them back on board for their American adventures soon.”
The news follows a broader increase in flight bookings, created as a positive effect of the UK Government relaxing air travel restrictions. The UK Government has simplified its rules on international travel, including the scrapping of the requirement for expensive SARS-CoV-2 PCR tests for the fully vaccinated. Virgin Atlantic says this relaxation of rules has had a “significant impact” on consumer confidence, resulting in a surge in demand across its wider route network.
Travellers are clearly keen to return to the skies, and in some style, with many Virgin Atlantic customers treating themselves to cabin upgrades and additional legroom seats. The airline reports that Premium (premium economy) was the most booked cabin on its aircraft, offering a 38in seat pitch and extras including pre-departure drinks.
Flights to the airline’s destinations in the Caribbean have risen 50% week on week, with its newest route to St Vincent and The Grenadines, set to launch on 13th October, becoming the most booked Caribbean flight. Barbados follows closely behind, with bookings for both October half term and the Christmas break proving the most popular time to visit. Bookings to both Jamaica and St Lucia have also doubled.
Interest in the airline’s routes popular amongst those visiting friends and relatives also remain strong. Following its removal from the UK’s ‘Red List’, bookings to Pakistan increased by nearly 300%, with flights from London to India up by nearly 100%.