Virgin reveals big Heathrow plans

Virgin Atlantic says its plans for the transformation of Heathrow T3 will provide tough competition for the new T5.  By the end of this year, all Virgin Atlantic passengers will see a brand new Check In area in T3, Zone A and the creation of a state-of-the art Drive Thru Check In for its Upper Class passengers, well ahead of T5, which will open in March 2008.

The development, which is part of BAA’s refurbishment and expansion of Heathrow’s T3, has been designed by Foster + Partners in conjunction with Virgin Atlantic’s in-house design team.

The Virgin Atlantic Check In area, which will be wider, brighter and more spacious, focuses on fast, efficient and stress free Check In, which the airline’s research has shown are three key factors for passengers.  The airline expects that 80% of its passengers from Heathrow will be using Online Check In and Kiosk Check In by the end of 2008.

The new Upper Class Drive Thru Check In will be like no other business or first class check in, with the creation of a new elegant glass fronted annexe building.  Upper Class passengers will be taken in their chauffeur driven cars up a curved ramp onto a 22m wide arrival area, in the heart of the terminal building, where they are welcomed by a dedicated Virgin Atlantic host.  All the Check In formalities will be completed in the car before the passengers arrive, so all that is left to do is check travel documents and answer security questions before walking through the hotel style lobby.  From here it will be a short walk to security and through to the Clubhouse, and then onto the gate.

Steve Ridgway, Chief Executive for Virgin Atlantic commented:


“The new T3 will provide a unique Virgin experience for our passengers.  From check in through to their departure gate, they will have a fast, efficient and stress free journey, which will relax them for the start of their trip and save them precious time at the airport.

“We estimate that it will take the majority of our passengers under 15 minutes to check in and get through to the Departure lounge and even less time for our Upper Class passengers to get to the Clubhouse - in contrast to most of BA’s long haul passengers, who will have a longer journey through the vast T5, with huge distances from the kerbside to lounges and to the planes.”

Virgin Atlantic currently operates 154 flights a week from Heathrow to a range of destinations worldwide including New York (both JFK and Newark), Boston, Cape Town, Chicago, Delhi, Dubai, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Lagos, Los Angeles, Miami, Mumbai, San Francisco, Shanghai, Sydney, Tokyo and Washington, with flights to Nairobi launching in June.