Virgin atlantic: The airline that Sir Richard Branson built is 30
Travel by numbers
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Sunday 22 June 2014
0: Amount of champagne remaining when Virgin Atlantic's maiden flight, from Gatwick to Newark, made landfall in North America on 22 June, 1984.
1: Number of free economy tickets for future flights provided to Upper Class passengers; this "buy one, get one free" policy lasted for several years.
1.14: YouTube views, in millions, of the November 1997 emergency landing of a Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340 at Heathrow. At the end of a flight from Los Angeles, the landing gear failed to extend properly. All passengers and crew survived. You can watch the touchdown here: bit.ly/SafeLanding.
2: Terminal at Heathrow to be served by Virgin's domestic airline offshoot, Little Red, from 10 September; until then, it's dismal old Terminal 1. International services depart from Terminal 3, except for some code-share flights operated by Delta from Terminal 4.
2: Number of airports served by Virgin Atlantic in London (Heathrow and Gatwick), New York (Newark and JFK), California (Los Angeles and San Francisco), Canada (Toronto and Vancouver, the latter summer-only), and India (Mumbai and Delhi).
3: UK destinations currently served from Heathrow: Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
3: Percentage of slots at Heathrow owned by Virgin Atlantic; British Airways has 53 per cent.
3: UK airports offering Virgin flights to Orlando in Florida: Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester.
4: European destinations served by Virgin Atlantic over the years: Dublin, Maastricht, Athens and Moscow.
6: Caribbean islands served from Gatwick: Antigua, Barbados, Cuba, Grenada, Jamaica and St Lucia.
8: Number of seats in the original Upper Class in the 747's "bubble".
40: Aircraft in Virgin's fleet. The oldest is a 20-year-old Jumbo jet named Lady Penelope. The fleet is being refreshed, with new Airbus A330 aircraft and, from later this year, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
44: Flight number of Las Vegas-Gatwick service, which began in 2000.
50: Films offered on demand aboard Virgin's A330, A340 and 747 aircraft.
78: Length, in inches, of lie-flat bed in today's Upper Class.
88: Lowest fare, in dollars, charged by Virgin for a New York-London flight; it applied in 1988 for standby trips.
1992: Year when Mid Class began as a separate cabin between Upper Class and Economy; now Premium Economy.
5,978: Distance in miles to Virgin's furthest destination, Hong Kong (Tokyo is just 40 miles closer).
600,000,000: Pounds paid by Singapore Airlines for 49-per-cent slice of Virgin Atlantic in 1999; sold in 2012 to the US airline, Delta, for £224m.
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