A masked Virgin Atlantic crew member

Virgin Atlantic introduces on site pre-flight Covid-19 testing trial for crew

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A masked Virgin Atlantic crew member

Virgin Atlantic has become the first UK airline to introduce COVID-19 pre-flight testing at its Heathrow base for its cabin crew and pilots. Launched at the end of September on flights to Shanghai and Hong Kong, the airline plans to extend the trial to Barbados and select services later in October, before a wider roll out to test every operating crew at least once per month.

In partnership with GeneMe UK, official distributor of the FRANKD test, the airline trial is offering crew and pilots a rapid Point of Care COVID-19 RT LAMP test. In independent laboratory tests, FRANKD is shown to be 100% specific and 97% sensitive to detecting SARS-CoV-2. Through integration with the digital ID platform Yoti, the test process is fast, secure, paperless and does not require a lab. After a swab is taken on site, results are processed and delivered on the Yoti app within 30 minutes.

Corneel Koster, Chief Customer and Operating Officer, Virgin Atlantic commented: “While the COVID-19 testing landscape evolves, we continue to be in discussions with multiple providers offering different technologies to guarantee the best solution possible, while absolutely ensuring that we do not compete with the NHS for vital resources.

“This trial is a first step in our phased plan to introduce regular testing for all of our teams in the air and on the ground, in order to instil confidence in flying. However, we continue to call for the swift introduction of a wider coordinated passenger testing regime. We need urgent action from UK and US governments to introduce pre departure testing, to remove the need for quarantine and to minimise travel restrictions, while protecting public health and half a million UK jobs associated with the sector. As long as the UK’s 14-day quarantine is in place, demand for travel will not return and the UK’s economic recovery, which relies on free-flowing trade and tourism, cannot take off.”

Virgin and Delta tail fins

ABM wins cabin cleaning contracts

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Virgin and Delta tail fins

ABM has secured two high profile aircraft cabin cleaning contracts.

Delta Airlines has appointed ABM to provide cabin cleaning services, while the company will clean the cabins of Virgin Atlantic’s fleet at London’s Heathrow Airport.

Both contracts began on 1 September and will be extended to include Virgin’s Manchester Airport operation once it recommences in November 2020.

Anthony Bryant, Manager – Cabin Appearance & Cleaning at Virgin Atlantic stated: “The health and safety of our customers and our people has always been our number one priority. As we start to return to our full flying schedule, the cleanliness and presentation of our cabins remains our absolute focus. 

“Virgin Atlantic is delighted to be partnering with ABM in the UK. Dedicated to applying and delivering to the highest of standards, we are excited to work with the team to ensure a continued industry leading cleaning programme across our fleet. 

Virgin Atlantic meal service

Virgin Atlantic expands onboard offering

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Virgin Atlantic meal service

To coincide with the resumption of more international services and the introduction of additional routes to its network, Virgin Atlantic is also expanding its onboard offering to increase its food and beverages service onboard.

From 1 September, a hot food service will be available in all cabins with Economy and Premium Economy customers enjoying a “Fly safe, eat well” meal box, which incorporates a choice of three hot meals, cheese and biscuits and a dessert pot. Upper Class customers will receive a choice of three hot meals, dessert, cheese plate & crackers and a ciabatta roll, all delivered to their seat on a tray.

An expanded alcohol service will include champagne, miniature liquors and mixers as well as beer and wine in Upper Class and a choice of beer, wine and miniature liquors & mixers in Economy and Premium.

A second meal service which, on day flights from the UK, includes the Mile High Tea in collaboration with celebrity pâtissier Eric Lanlard in all cabins. In Upper Class, this is accompanied by a glass of chilled champagne. On night flights, the second service will feature a choice of hot breakfast entrees, accompanied by a seasonal fresh fruit selection and sweet pastry, and in Premium and Economy a breakfast box with yoghurt and fruit, served alongside a warm pastry. The second service is served with a hot beverage of PG Tips tea or Change Please coffee.

In Upper Class, Virgin is reintroducing a selection of sweet and savoury snacks to enjoy throughout the flight, from Corkers crisps to Olly’s olives, Sweet & Salty cloud corn to Sour watermelon candy, Walkers biscuits and much more. Premium sees the return of the much-loved Wander Wall offering a range of delicious snacks. In Economy customers can enjoy an extra snack as part of the upgraded meal box.

There will also be a choice of new special meals, including lacto-ovo vegetarian and kosher from 1 September and vegan, halal, low lactose, gluten friendly – amongst others- from 1 October.

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic commented: “We can’t wait to welcome our customers back onboard and flying them safely to their destinations – whilst our services may temporarily be little different and our crew will be wearing masks, they will be smiling behind them and working incredibly hard to deliver the experience we know our customers love. Initial feedback from our customers on our restart services has been overwhelmingly positive, flying safe and well, returning to the skies with confidence.”

A masked Virgin Atlantic crew member

Virgin Atlantic provides complimentary COVID-19 global insurance cover

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A masked Virgin Atlantic crew member

Virgin Atlantic has become the latest airline to introduce complimentary COVID-19 global insurance.

The policy with Allianz Assistance, applies to all to all existing and new bookings, travelling from 24 August 2020 up until 31 March 2021, and covers the event that a Virgin Atlantic customer or travel companion becomes ill with COVID-19 while on a trip.

Emergency medical costs, associated expenses such as transport and accommodation and repatriation up to £500,000 are included, as well as costs if a customer is denied boarding or held in quarantine.

In the event that they or anyone else on their booking becomes ill with COVID-19 while travelling, Virgin Atlantic COVID-19 Cover ensures related costs are covered, no matter how long the trip is or even if they’re visiting another destination on the same overseas trip.

The policy also covers expenses incurred up to £3,000 if a customer is denied boarding, at either departure or in destination, or has to quarantine due to positive or suspected COVID-19 during a trip.

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic said: “.Whether it’s to visit friends and relatives or take a well-deserved break, we believe this complimentary cover will provide some added reassurance for our customers as they start to plan trips further afield. It applies in parallel to existing travel insurance policies which may now exclude COVID-19, and provides comprehensive cover for coronavirus, recognising the needs of our customers as we restart services.”

In late July, Emirates became the first airline to announce it would offer free, global cover for COVID-19 related costs, regardless of class of travel or destination. The cover became effective immediately and will last until 31 October 2020 and is valid for 31 days from the moment they fly the first sector of their journey.

The airline will cover medical expenses of up to EUR 150,000 and quarantine costs of EUR 100 per day for 14 days, should they be diagnosed with COVID-19 during their travel, while they are away from home.

Airline cabin crew to join NHS Nightingale carers

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The UK’s NHS has enlisted staff from Virgin Atlantic and easyJet to work at new Nightingale hospitals as being built across the country.

easyJet has already written to all 9,000 of its UK based staff, which includes 4,000 cabin crew who are trained in CPR, while Virgin Atlantic will write to approximately 4,000 of their prioritising those with the required skills and training.

Those who sign up will perform clinical support roles, under the close instruction of nurses and senior clinicians on the wards at the NHS Nightingale Hospitals across the country.

The NHS has confirmed that they are being built in London, Birmingham and Manchester and other sites are being considered.

Support workers will change beds, tend to patients and assist doctors and nurses working on the wards.

Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England said: “Nurses, doctors and other vital health and social care staff are working day and night to provide the best possible care to patients as the NHS continues to fight this global health pandemic.

“The NHS is mobilising like never before, but the scale of this challenge has not been seen in peacetime so we need all the support we can get.

Many airline staff are first aid trained or hold other clinical qualifications as well as being security cleared, while NHS clinicians will oversee their work – with expert training provided to all new recruits when they sign-up.

Corneel Koster, Chief Customer Officer at Virgin Atlantic said:  “We are very grateful to the NHS for everything they are doing in extremely challenging circumstances and we’re committed to doing all we can to support the national effort against the rapid acceleration of Covid-19.”

“We are very proud of our highly skilled people at Virgin Atlantic and since the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was announced, we have been inundated with our employees looking to help other organisations at this time of crisis. The NHS approached us with this unique opportunity as they recognise the value and experience our medically trained cabin crew and trainers will bring to the incredible Nightingale Hospital initiative.”

“In addition, our cargo business is very busy with extra flights, keeping global supply chains running and transporting essential medical supplies into the UK at this time.”

Tina Milton, Director of Cabin Services for easyJet, said:  “We have all needed the NHS at some point in our lives and so we are so proud that our crew can now help to support the NHS at this crucial time.

“The NHS is at the forefront of dealing with this health emergency but the training and skills our cabin crew have, working closely with the medical professionals, could help make a real difference.”