Virgin # 2: Virgin has changed its archaic reward cancellation policy at last!

My biggest gripe with Virgin Flying Club – which has been going out of its way to appear more attractive in the last year or so – was the, frankly, pathetic cancellation policy.

These were the rules:

Cancel your mileage flight and you lose 25% of the miles used

Cancel your mileage flight within 7 days of departure and you lose 100% of the miles used

As far as I was concerned, this was simply not acceptable.  People often save miles for years to get a reward flight, so impose a swingeing 25% penalty if they had to cancel – even many months before departure – was simply not on.

Virgin Atlantic

However, things may have changed.  Although, oddly, Virgin hasn’t told anyone about it.

As was posted on Flyertalk yesterday, the Virgin terms and conditions for Flying Club redemptions now say this:

If for any reason a flight reward is cancelled by the Member outside 24 hours of departure, 100% of the Miles will be re-credited to the member’s account. A cancellation fee of £30 for changes to flights originating in the UK, US$50 for changes to flights originating in the US or local currency equivalent of US$50 for changes to flights originating in any other region will apply. If for any reason a flight reward is cancelled within 24 hours prior to departure, no Miles will be refunded and no fee will be charged. If you change the original travel date (within 24 hours of departure) and later decide to cancel your flights, you will forfeit the mileage used for the reward. Once travel has commenced Miles cannot be refunded. Except as expressly stated in these Flying Club Terms, Miles are not refundable and changes or revalidation are not permitted in case of no-show.

Truly, miracles do happen!  This now makes Flying Club a far more attractive proposition for me.  I need to book a long way ahead to get 4 seats for my family, but booking a long way ahead obviously means more chance that plans will change.  I might even do a transfer to Flying Club now via the Tesco or Amex conversion bonuses ….. my current balance of 8,000 won’t get me far!

Next week, I will run a post outlining all of the reasons why you might want to consider collecting Virgin miles via the current transfer bonuses, even if you don’t already have any.  Ironically, I had already written that post when this news came in … time for a re-write!

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles? Click here to see recent articles on Virgin Atlantic, Little Red and Flying Club, and click here for the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

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  1. Might be a gamechanger for me too. Any Virgin experts here who can advise ne whether upper class redemption availability between LHR and HKG is usually good? How do taxes/fees compare to BA on same route?

  2. Aside from the occasional short haul redemption where they offer good value, often with One World partners, we exclusively use our Avios for long haul J and F travel, using a 2for1 or Avios for Upgrade.

    On that basis Flying Club still looks relatively poor value, unless anyone can convince me otherwise:

    *No 2for1 vouchers. The free companion ticket offered by the credit cards is for cash bookings, and requires the purchase of a full fare ticket plus the second lot of taxes and fees. Two restricted tickets in the same cabin would normally be cheaper.

    *Upgrade with miles from premium economy requires the purchase of a full fare ticket so no upgrading cheapest available ticket which makes it substantially more expensive than BA.

    Am I missing anything?

    • No, not missing anything.

      Scheme is focussed on economy redeemers, hence low taxes, lower miles than BA wants and the credit card upgrade vouchers to PE from Economy.

      Coupled with small Upper Class cabins, so fewer redemption seats, and it does not work so well at the pointy end.

      • Thanks. I shall continue to focus on Avios then.

        My only experience with Virgin economy three years ago was not pleasant. I don’t think I’ve ever found an aircraft seat so uncomfortable (A340-600), and that’s having done plenty of long economy flights with other airlines, including Hong Kong and Singapore with BA.

        Upper class looks nice, though… 🙂

        • Lady London says:

          I did a flight in, I think, a Lufthansa A340-600 in midhaul Economy a couple of year ago. I agree with you Simon. It felt like the most uncomfortable seat I’d ever been in and that also compared to much longer longhaul economy flights in Air Canada, US Air and Singapore Airlines.

  3. Getting increasingly interested in flying club, especially with lower charges on redemptions. Availability with BA is so poor, wondering if VS is better?

  4. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    Looking forward to the article on Flying Club (I’m also routinely collecting 750 Avios rather than 1k VS per Hilton stay!). What’s YQ like on partner airline redemptions? VX is my preferred US domestic carrier and NZ fills some useful one world gaps.

  5. littlefish says:

    Gosh, yes. That booking experience looks awful. I’ve been toying with having 100k miles with VFC, for the occasions where BA can only get me and Mrs 1-way.
    This new info is good, but Mr Branson has yet to convince me the talk can be backed up with simple efficiency. Eeessh, decisions decisions.

  6. Looking at the current Virgin Economy redemption sale and the new T&C’s. We want a redemption for Oct 2014, but redemption tickets aren’t released that far out yet. Do you think I’d be able to redeem 2 economy tickets at the current sale rate for dates that have been released, and then pay 2 x £25 fee to change the remedation dates to Oct 2014 once they are released but keep the original 25K miles redemption fee?

    • Lady London says:

      not usually. Most tickets are valid around 11 and a half months from date of first issue. Practically speaking this would mean you would not be able to change to flying dates outside of that length of time from first issue without refunding (if possible) and taking a new ticket.

  7. I redeemed some VS miles earlier in the year for a Upper class flight London to Hong Kong, there was plently of availability especially on Tuesday, Wedensday and Thursday flights and the booking process was fast and efficient. There also seemed to be a lot more Availability to Sydney as well. Tesco Clubcard are also doing a 30% bonus just now as well.

  8. What's the Point says:

    We used VA for a one way Upper Class redemption LHR to LAX last year. Was not able to book 2 tickets on line (IT issues their end!), so had to call their call centre. Agent was quite helpful, and all booked very efficiently. Lounge at T3 is pretty amazing, well worth spending some serious time before the flight.
    After returning I had major hassle in getting VA to re-instate the hyphen into my surname, that they had taken out to issue the ticket. I was having problems transferring my AMEX MR points into VA account, as my surname did not match exactly any more. Spent nearly 30 mins arguing on the phone with VA staff, why they should start spelling my surname correctly again. In the end it must have only taken them 15 seconds to actually change my surname back to its original format…..

  9. Looking forward to reading the article next week, I’m tempted to do a speculative transfer of my clubcard points to Virgin, shame the bonus isn’t 50% this time.

  10. First post. I must say this website has been a real find so thanks to all who contibute. Stupid question but along with the 100% miles refund if you cancel, do you also have the taxes and charges refunded also? You just pay the £30 cancellation fee?
    Currently having a massive dilema as to which scheme – Avios or VFC to commit to. I have accounts with both and points with both. BA better for upgrades using Avios, VS better for full economy tickets plus taxes etc. However VS don’t fly from Glasgow which is a big hassle for me personally due to my location in Scotland.

  11. Well I would be careful with this. I have just this minute spoken with VA and I have been advised that I would loose 25% of my miles if I were to cancel an August 14 flight say in two months time. I would only get a 100% refund of miles if I cancelled within 24 hours. I explained that the terms and conditions had recently changed and she told me that she was reading from her screen. Suffice to say I didn’t book. My return date isn’t up yet, but I was tempted to book the outbound, on the hope that I could get an Avios return later.

  12. Look at this link that is still on the VA page under the flying club terms and conditions

  13. Sorry paragraph 6 talks about re crediting only 75%. What I can’t find is what happens to the taxes are these refunded