Virgin Atlantic Airways has launched daily services between London Heathrow and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Chicago, which becomes Virgin Atlantic’s 27th destination worldwide, will be the airline’s tenth US gateway. Chicago is a key destination in its own right as well as a hub for the Mid West.
Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Atlantic, said today:
“Chicago is the third busiest long-haul route out of London and we are thrilled to be launching this daily service today, along with many of our business and leisure passengers who have been asking us to add this important city to our US network for some time. With its mix of business hotels and conference centres, and extensive festivals and events, Chicago appeals to all travellers and we have already seen very good forward bookings for the first few months.
“Competition on the route between London and Chicago is very tough and we will definitely be giving our rivals a run for their money both in the air and on the ground. Our award winning Upper Class Suite is the longest flat bed of any airline’s business class and our new Premium Economy seat is more comfortable and wider than those of most airlines’ business class.
“It’s long been my ambition to see Virgin back in Chicago and I’d like to thank Mayor Richard M Daley, Aviation Commissioner Nuria Fernandez, and the City of Chicago, who have all supported the launch of these flights. All Chicagoans will benefit from the increased competition Virgin will provide on this route, which will ultimately lead to lower ticket prices and an improved quality of service.
“The new Virgin Atlantic route also means a projected annual economic benefit to Chicago of more than $80 million in increased jobs, trade and tourism.”
Chicago is the biggest route from London to the US not currently served by Virgin Atlantic - in the last twelve months 1.51m travellers flew between the two cities, making it the third busiest long haul route from London after New York and Dubai.
The Mayor of Chicago, Richard M Daley, added:
“I’m delighted that Virgin Atlantic Airways is offering this new service on the heavily travelled route between O’Hare and London’s Heathrow. Chicago is already one of the most accessible cities in the world by air, and Virgin Atlantic is making it even more so. Now business people and tourists have another great option for travel between these two international cities.”
Virgin Atlantic’s capacity to the United States will increase by around 10% with the daily Chicago and second daily Washington services which will launch this week, demonstrating the airline’s strong commitment to the US market and the enormous popularity of these transatlantic routes.
The flight schedule will be very popular with travellers as flight VS039 will depart London Heathrow at 11.15 and arrive into Chicago O’Hare International Airport at 14.10. Flight VS040 will depart Chicago at 18.00 and arrive into London Heathrow at 08.00 the following morning. Services will be operated by an Airbus A340-300, which will be configured with 34 Upper Class Suites, 35 Premium Economy seats and 171 Economy seats.
All Virgin Atlantic’s aircraft are fitted with the Upper Class Suite, which has won many awards for its innovative design. Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class Suite, consists of a reclining leather seat for take off, a place to sit and eat a proper meal opposite your partner, the longest fully flat bed in the world with a proper mattress for sleeping on, a private onboard bar to enjoy a drink with your friends, a private massage zone and four limousines per return trip - all at a price thousands of pounds less than other airlines’ First Class. The Upper Class experience also includes Drive Thru Check In, the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse and the Revivals arrivals lounge at Heathrow.
Passengers on the new route will benefit from a new Premium Economy seat and service onboard. The seat, which will be on all Chicago flights by the end of June 2007, is wider than BA’s Club World and around 3 inches wider than other airlines’ Premium Economy products. Virgin Atlantic’s Premium Economy passengers benefit from many services when they travel which include a dedicated check in, a separate cabin, priority boarding, priority duty free and quicker baggage reclaim and a dedicated toilet on the majority of aircraft. They also receive a pre-departure drink and post dinner liqueur. New additional services include dedicated cabin crew, a redesigned meal service and dedicated amenity kit and a fruitbowl service.