Comparison of Virgin Atlantic and American Airlines for UK -> USA
February 3, 2013 1:09 PM   Subscribe

For the flights that I'm booking between London (UK) and Boston (US), Virgin Atlantic and American Airlines have effectively identical flight times and prices. Can any seasoned pond-hoppers recommend one airline over the other, and tell me why?

I'll be travelling Economy (or whatever they call their cheapest ticket type), and will have a single checked bag.

AA's flight will be operated by British Airways, if that makes a difference.
posted by metaBugs to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If the AA flight is operated by British Airways it's essentially a British Airways flight. I would fly British Airways over AA any day.

I would generally fly Virgin over BA. They have excellent service and will tend to have newer facilities. Also on codeshare flights like the AA/BA flight there can be confusion if there is trouble on the flight (lost bag, missed connection, etc). So, again I would lead toward Virgin.
posted by Ookseer at 1:42 PM on February 3, 2013

I've flown both from London to San Francisco and back. They're fairly equivalent to me.

If I were forced to choose, I'd say Virgin Atlantic. They're a bit better with the entertainment options and the bag of goodies (socks, toothbrush, etc)
posted by vacapinta at 1:52 PM on February 3, 2013

After March 31, AA will cease flying to Heathrow on its own metal, so any AA-coded flight you are looking at will be BA. So there's that.

This sounds like a one-time event for you - Virgin is pretty nice, and might have an edge in Coach. If you are flying regularly, BA/AA have the advantage of being in an alliance, offering status, etc.
posted by scolbath at 1:55 PM on February 3, 2013

It might be a consideration but BA and Virgin fly out of different terminals in Heathrow. BA is out of terminal 5 and Virgin flies out of terminal 3. It really only matters if you're changing to a domestic flight - but LHR is a bit of a pain to navigate if you're new to it.

I've flown both BA and Virgin direct to San Francisco. Virgin was fine (flight & plane marginally nicer than typical BA) except that I couldn't check my bag through to my next airline - I had to retrieve it at LHR and recheck it - a major PITA - and I've never flown Virgin since because of that screw-up.

That said there's really not that much to choose between the two - I'd usually go with the cheaper ticket which for the last few trips has been BA (so it hasn't been hard to keep up my hate on Virgin)
posted by Long Way To Go at 2:21 PM on February 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

If it's a straight choice between Virgin and AA then Virgin wins hands down. If it's Virgin vs BA then Virgin still wins but by less. Basically AA are a bit rubbish.
posted by merocet at 3:28 PM on February 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Virgin's online checkin and smartphone apps were broken for my last flight with them in January. Flight itself was uneventful and much the same as BA's one I took previously. Not much to choose between them once you're in the air.
posted by cromagnon at 3:57 PM on February 3, 2013

Virgin for the in-flight services. Call me a sucker, but this was pretty damn nice. I would like another gingerale (free) and a bag of fancy caramel popcorn (not free.) I tap this selection into the screen and two minutes later a flight attendant is at my side with delivery.
posted by desuetude at 4:09 PM on February 3, 2013

I was disappointed in Virgin. It's okay, but not the rock star, incredible experience I thought it would be from the marketing. I like the frequent flyer program on BA, which is interchangeable with more airlines, so I'd choose it for that reason. Also, BA customer service has been better in my experience (although I recognize that's not universal).
posted by 3491again at 6:53 PM on February 3, 2013

I'd choose based on which loyalty points would be more useful to me (in my case, BA/AA for OneWorld). You rack up quite a few miles crossing the Atlantic. Food is good on BA and booze appeared to be unlimited, which is nice if you like that kind of thing. My last arrival at LHR Terminal 5 with BA was, I think, the fastest I've ever got through an airport for an international arrival. Not a queue to be seen anywhere.
posted by pont at 1:51 AM on February 4, 2013

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