The United States’ travel bans have ended as of today, and British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have partnered to celebrate this in a special way.
Two special flights from London to New York
While British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are ordinarily fierce competitors, the airlines came together this morning to commemorate the return of transatlantic travel to the United States. This is the first time in over 600 days (since March 16, 2020) that Brits have been allowed to travel to the United States.
This special celebration included British Airways flight 1 (BA1) and Virgin Atlantic flight 3 (VS3). The use of the “BA1” flight number is especially noteworthy, since that used to be the flight number for the Concorde, but it’s just being used today as a one-off, given the special occasion.
Both flights are being operated by Airbus A350-1000s, and departed at 8:30AM. The two flights are currently “racing” to New York JFK, and it remains to be seen which flight will arrive first.
The United States’ reopening its borders to Brits is a massive development for both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, given that the United States is the largest foreign market for both airlines.
These flights had a dual runway takeoff
Not only were BA1 and VS3 scheduled to fly from London to New York at the same time today, but the two A350s performed a dual runway takeoff. This means that at the same time the Virgin Atlantic A350 took off on runway 27L, while the British Airways A350 took off on runway 27R.
You can listen to the air traffic control audio of this below. As you can hear, the two flights received individual takeoff clearances, and then they were separately given a “roll command” to actually takeoff.
Below is a cool video that fully captures the dual runway takeoff.
It’s a big day for transatlantic travel, as the United States’ travel ban against many European countries has ended. Airlines are obviously very excited about this, given the huge increase in demand we’ll see as a result.
To celebrate, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic operated special A350 flights, which were the carriers’ first flights to the United States under the new rules. Both airlines had 8:30AM flights to New York this morning. These flights even had dual runway takeoffs at Heathrow, which is something you don’t otherwise ever see.