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Understanding the Virgin Flying Club changes – Part 1, earning

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Virgin Atlantic announced major changes to Virgin Flying Club yesterday.  You can find the details at this dedicated microsite.

I am looking at the changes in detail across two articles.  If you want to know about the changes to spending Virgin Flying Club miles, click here to read Part 2.  To put it simply:

miles earned from flights will be linked more closely to what you pay

status will be tougher to earn

peak and off-peak pricing for redemptions will be introduced

Economy and Premium Economy redemptions are generally getting cheaper whilst Upper Class is generally getting more expensive

Miles Plus Money can be used at 0.6p per mile and can cover the entire cost of a ticket, including taxes

there are NO changes to partner earning or redemption rates – everything unrelated to earning or spending miles on Virgin Atlantic remains untouched (this has been confirmed to me by Virgin although it is not mentioned on the website)

Virgin Atlantic 787

Earning changes

Today I want to focus on the changes to earning  – both Flying Club miles and tier points.

Change 1: Miles earned will be more closely related to the fare you paid

Virgin Atlantic has not moved to a revenue-based earning scheme BUT there will be a closer correlation between fare paid and miles earned.

This is how you currently earn miles on Virgin Atlantic flights (there are no changes to partner earning) – the actual chart is here:

  • Upper Class (J, D, C) – 300% of miles flown
  • Upper Class (I, Z) – 150%
  • Premium Economy (W, S) – 150%
  • Premium Economy (K, H) – 125%
  • Economy – 100%

and this is the new rate from 13th November:

  • Upper Class (J, D, C) – 400% of miles flown
  • Upper Class (I, Z) – 200%
  • Premium Economy (W, S) – 200%
  • Premium Economy (K, H) – 100%
  • Economy (Y, B, R) – 150%
  • Economy (L, U, M) – 100%
  • Economy (E, Q, V, N, O) – 50%

This PDF document shows the exact number of miles earned on every route, in every class.

If you have already booked a ticket for travel after 13th November, you will be rewarded under the most generous chart.  This is a welcome move.

Virgin Atlantic 350

Change 2:  Status bonuses will change, both in quantum and in the way they are calculated

Currently, a Gold member gets a bonus of 100% of base miles and a Silver member gets a bonus of 50% of base miles.

From 13th November, a Gold member gets a 60% bonus and a Silver member gets a 30% bonus on the total miles earned.

What does this mean?  Well, a Gold member gets a higher bonus if he flies a cabin and fare class earning 200% or more.  Otherwise the Gold member is worse off.  (60% of 200% is 120% which is higher than the old bonus of a flat 100%).

The same is true for a Silver member.  In a 200% cabin, your bonus is worth (30% of 200%) 60% of base miles.  That is higher than the current 50%.

Let’s see how a Gold member on a fully flexible ticket can really milk this!

Virgin Atlantic now guarantees that your miles are worth at least 0.6p because you can get that as a cash discount off any ticket (more on this tomorrow).

A Gold member flying to San Francisco on a flexible Upper Class ticket would now earn 68,633 miles.  At 0.6p per mile, that is £411 off your next Virgin flight.  Assuming you are a 40% taxpayer, that is the equivalent of a £700 bonus ……

Virgin 787

Change 3:  New family earning options

Children under the age of 12 will now be able to have a Flying Club account in their own name.

However, slightly oddly, only Gold members will be allowed to pool miles via a family account.  You will therefore have children with relatively small balances (most kids are flying on discounted economy tickets) who can never redeem them.  After all, a child cannot have a Virgin credit card, an Amex charge card, a Heathrow Rewards account etc etc.

If BA did this it would be OK because the child would be able to redeem for short haul Avios redemptions.  That is not an option with Virgin Atlantic so these small balances are highly likely to expire.  I’m not sure that this simply won’t frustrate members more than benefit them.

Virgin Foam

Change 4:  Status becomes harder to earn

It will be harder to earn Virgin Atlantic status from 13th November.  I am not entirely sure of the merits of this approach because it isn’t as if Virgin status has a lot of benefits outside of flying Virgin Atlantic.  This may be a way of reducing pressure on the Heathrow Clubhouse now that all of the Delta flights have moved to Terminal 3.

For no good reason at all, Virgin is grossing up the tier point scale by 25.  Your existing balance will be grossed up 25x on 13th November.

Here are the current tier point earning rates, multiplied by 25 for easy comparison (see the website here for the original):

  • Upper Class (J, D, C) – 150
  • Upper Class (I, Z) – 125
  • Premium Economy (W, S) – 100
  • Premium Economy (K, H) – 75
  • Economy (Y, B, R, L, U, M) – 75
  • Economy (E, Q, V, N, O) – 50

based on a target of 1,000 for Gold and 375 for Silver.

This is the new chart:

  • Upper Class (J, I, D, C) – 200
  • Upper Class (Z) – 100
  • Premium Economy (W, S) – 100
  • Premium Economy (K, H) – 50
  • Economy (Y, B, R, L, U, M) – 50
  • Economy (E, Q, V, N, O) – 25

based on a target of 1,000 for Gold and 400 for Silver.

Unless you are on flexible Upper Class tickets, status will become harder to earn.

You are now looking at having to make 20 return economy flights per year before you qualify for Clubhouse lounge access.  A Silver can only access No 1 Traveller lounges in the UK.

Conclusion

That, in a nutshell, is a summary of the earning changes.

If you have status and fly on fully flexible Upper Class tickets you will do exceptionally well.  For everyone else, the picture is less rosy.

As with the Avios changes, the airline is playing down the role of flying in actually earning miles.  Until the offer closed yesterday, for example, the Virgin Black credit card was offering 25,000 miles as a sign-up bonus.  You would need to do EIGHT return trips to New York in discounted economy to earn 25,000 miles now ……

Part 2, looking at the changes to Virgin Flying Club spending rates, is here.


HFP Virgin Atlantic Rewards credit card

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (January 2021)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, one has a bonus of 15,000 Points):

Virgin Rewards credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

The UK’s most generous free Visa or Mastercard at 0.75 points / £1 Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review

You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Points

(Want to earn more Virgin Points?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

Comments (70)

  • David says:

    “For no good reason at all, Virgin is grossing up the tier point scale by 25.”
    – my strong suspicion is that the previous low values didn’t provide anywhere near enough fidelity, especially if they plan to further refine earnings to fare class, and also if they were more deeply integrating with a partner airline that has lots of short domestic flights.
    Currently low values always seemed like system that only works when you are traditional longhaul online virgin atlantic, for customers who mostly fly your airline only.

    Possibly worth commenting (again) about the recent loss of the ability to mix miles one way with half round trip revenue fare on the other leg. That was a really good feature, shame its gone.

    • Oh! Matron! says:

      My suspicions also. Is there an emoji for “crying into my porridge and coffee”?

  • Roger says:

    Have the fees and taxes remained the same?
    LHR_DEL off peak 12500 miles is the cheapest redemeption I can see, even better than 20000 on AY using AA miles I was planning; provided taxes are reasonable.

  • Matthew says:

    I can’t for the life of me find the new award chart – does anyone have a link? Thank you 🙂

  • Choons says:

    ‘You are now looking at having to make 20 return economy flights per year before you qualify for Clubhouse lounge access. A Silver can only access No 1 Traveller lounges in the UK.’

    I thought silvers also had to pay for No1 Traveller lounge access, is that right?

    • Rob says:

      Do you? It didn’t say that on the website but, to be honest, this isn’t a benefit I know much about.

      • Paul says:

        From the VS/No1 joint website: its for all members of FC

        EARN

        350 miles per booking

        ENTRY FEE

        £22.50 – Birmingham and Edinburgh
        £25.00 – Gatwick and Heathrow

      • Chris C says:

        It says it in your article at the end of the ‘change 4’ section!

        ” A Silver can only access No 1 Traveller lounges in the UK.”

        • Rob says:

          Yes, I know, it says that on the Virgin website. But the poster above suggested that Silvers have to PAY to get in.

  • Liz says:

    Do you get access to the LHR Clubhouse with an UC reward ticket with no status?

    • Simon says:

      Yes, UC ticket will get you in, plus fast track through the dedicated security channel.

  • the real harry says:

    Kids a/cs: might as well open your kids an a/c – the rules on pooling could easily change a few years down the line. I’d have thought keeping such a/cs live is relatively straightforward for HFP readers. Even if you can’t pool them, you can hand them over to your kids with a few thousand free miles in when they are older.

  • James A says:

    The virgin changes aren’t as bad as I feared to be honest. In general, if you earn miles primarily through non flying (like most of us) you will be fine.

    • Nick says:

      The changes are pretty bad if you want to redeem for Upper Class but not so bad in the Middle Class and Lower Class cabins. For most places an extra 15% to fly Upper Class off peak and 35% peak. LA, San Francisco and Las Vegas are worse requiring an extra 55% in peak periods. Off peak to Dubai has got cheaper in UC so yields must be poor and wouldn’t be surprised to see VS pull the plug on that route.

      • James A says:

        You’re right, I only looked at the routes relevant to me (Dubai, east coast) and the increases in UC were modest at worst (when compared to the usual hack and slash devaluations).

  • Andy S says:

    Shame they got rid of Little Red – that was a very easy way to gain miles and tier points!

    • Alan says:

      Plus made it way easier to connect into their longhaul services! Now has to be on separate unlinked BA tickets with big gap in between 🙁

    • Oh! Matron! says:

      Shame Singapore Airlines closed down yet another gold run (the original being KUL-SIN, the newer being MAN-MUC).

      If partner airline tier points earnings (sorry, lack of coffee) haven’t changed, I’ll have to search out a new route…

      Saying that, the one time I DID do MAN-MUC in 1st, it was amazing 🙂 Only two of us in the 1st class cabin 🙂