British Airways and Virgin Atlantic celebrate return to the US with coordinated take-off for flights between London Heathrow and New York JFK

When it comes to aviation, it is not just aviation geeks such as you and me who look forward to our next aircraft ride, but also the regular passenger who are looking to travel to be reunited with their families and friends many a time. The US has been closed to visitors from many countries for a long while, and as of November 8, 2021, they will be open again. One of the first countries to have been placed under a US Ban was its close partner, the United Kingdom. As the US opens to the world, the two primary carriers of the UK  did something special to celebrate the occasion.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic take off with a coordinated flight.

While there was chatter about a coordinated effort between both the carriers, it was confirmed by the airline a day before the event. Here is a tweet from British Airways.

And here is the tweet from Virgin Atlantic showing something is cooking tomorrow.

Both the airlines simultaneously took off to the USA from London Heathrow on 0851 hours local time departure, using their Airbus A350-1000 aircraft.

a plane flying in the sky

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic took off together between LHR and JFK (Image Courtesy British Airways)

And here is a great clip from a chopper that shows this majestic imagery play out.

British Airways has also brought back their BA 1 flight number for this particular flight. BA1 was used for Concorde operated flights till 2003 and then for the Airbus A318 flights between London City Airport and New York JFK between 2009 and 2020. This is a special extra flight and is only mounted for one day.

a screenshot of a flight schedule

And here is VS3, all set for departure as well about the same time.

a screenshot of an airplane

The NATS, which is the ATC service provider at Heathrow, and usually coy about such stunts, also participated in this show. Both the airlines got a separate clearance to take off and then held on till they got the cue from NATS (standby for Roll Command)

NATS also wrote up a blog post about how they had to craft this out of the busy Heathrow schedule where usually one runway is used for takeoff and one for landing.

The traditional rivalry took over, however, as the aircraft closed in for arrival at New York JFK. As per an Air Traffic Controller, Virgin Atlantic refused to play ball for a coordinated arrival. They arrived 8 minutes ahead of British Airways, eventually.



British Airways and Virgin Atlantic celebrated the reopening of the US with simultaneous flights taking off by both airlines from London Heathrow to New York JFK, with both airlines operating their flights with the A350-1000 aircraft. In doing this, the airlines keep aside their traditional rivalry and project a united face as travel resumes to the US in full force.

What do you think of this coordinated flight plan between Virgin Atlantic and British Airways for their flight between London Heathrow and New York JFK?

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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. Only if Indian govt. recognised and make international travel more open now.
    You can still ask for vaccination certificate or PCR/LFT etc but why ban flights.

    hopefully flights will resume after Nov 30 deadline

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