I have written in the past about the Virgin Atlantic ‘miles plus money’ scheme. Whilst it had its faults, it could be decent value for money. I showed in my earlier article how you could get 1.5p per mile of value on occasion.
That is all over.
From August 5th, ‘miles plus money’ will be switching to the Avios model, but will be even worse!
This is what is changing:
Instead of redeeming a set amount of miles for an unspecified discount, which seemed to vary depending on how keen Virgin was to sell out any particular flight, you are now redeeming your miles for a fixed discount:
Spend 3,000 miles in Economy and get a £30 discount per ticket
Spend 7,500 miles in Premium Economy and get a £80 discount per ticket
Spend 15,000 miles in Upper Class and get a £200 discount per ticket
On the face of it, this is a better deal that ‘part pay with Avios’. Virgin is giving you a discount worth between 1p per mile in Economy and 1.33p per mile in Upper Class.
What you don’t see, unless you click ‘terms and conditions’, is that flights booked with ‘miles plus money’ do NOT earn Flying Club miles or tier points.
This makes these deals very, very expensive indeed.
Let’s imagine you redeem 3,000 miles for £30 off a flight to San Francisco. You would have earned around 10,700 Virgin miles for the trip if you’d paid full price – but now you earn nothing.
Your £30 discount has therefore cost you 13,700 miles – a truly terrible redemption rate.
Upper Class is better but not much. An Upper Class cash ticket to San Francisco would earn 16,000 miles. Your £200 discount has cost you a total of 31,000 miles, so you have effectively only got 0.5p per mile. The loss of the tier points is even more important if you are looking for Virgin status.
Virgin is, of course, free to set whatever rules its likes. I do, however, have a problem with the fact that this ‘you don’t earn miles or tier points’ rule is tucked away in the terms and conditions and not made clear upfront.
(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles? Click here to see recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club, and click here for the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)