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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)

  • Ian says:

    As someone who has managed to let thousands of points expire not once but twice I think I will avoid lol

    I’ll stick with one world.

  • the real harry says:

    not forgetting Edinburgh Waverley miles 🙂

    all got those now? I needed to send chasing emails but they arrived promptly after that

  • Chris C says:

    re kids accounts. They could use the 3k miles = £18 off the fare option.

    I think this is a good benefit for people with relatively small amounts of miles who won’t ever get enough for an upgrade or full reward.

  • Chris C says:

    A child can have a child ISA (lower limit of £ you can have in it). This is HMRC rule.

    But does V Money offer one and if they do do they make the same miles offer to open one?

  • Stewart says:

    Just a thought, will we still be able to redeem one way flights?

    10k points plus a nominal tax fee in economy from the USA is pretty stonking value if you start your journey elsewhere or have an open jaw/multi flight.

    • Sarah says:

      It says in the new spending table to halve the miles required for one way flights, so I assume so

    • Choons says:

      That nominal tax fee at the moment is USD156.90 in economy for US to London, unless you are talking about something else

      • Stewart says:

        Yes didn’t have my weetabix this morning and not thinking clearly! Confused myself by looking at the US redemptions on BA earlier – Miami to Berlin is £3 I believe!

        For VA I believe one of the sweet spots is Hong Kong to London circa £10-£20

  • DM says:

    As an american living in UK, the 100% miles earning on lowest economy fares was something that kept me flying with Virgin, even when there have been cheaper options available (particularly with Norwegian), as I could then store these up and use during peak times. Probably will be less incentive to do so now.

  • sineawavves says:

    Slightly OT:

    Does anyone earn Virgin Miles through business, as in is there a legitimate business card option? Or more generally what do most people do with their business spend if they run their own company? Any thoughts very welcome.

    Thanks!

    • David says:

      Amex MR points convert into VS, so you could look at the business Amex cards for a start.

      • sineawavves says:

        Thanks, yeah I think that’s the way I’m going to go. Was just curious if there were any other business cards out there for points collectors.

    • Rob says:

      Use a personal credit card.

      I use my Amex Plat exclusively for HFP spend which allows me to charge the £450 fee as a business expense.

      • EvilGazebo says:

        Never thought of that! I switched from personal Plat to the small biz plat but ditched it in the end as not worth it (no guest on PP etc).Might go back to the personal. Out of interest do you pay the bills direct from company account or claim all spend as expenses and then pay from personal?

        • Rob says:

          It doesn’t matter in my case because HFP is run on a sole trader basis, but I usually pay it via the company bank account.

  • JP says:

    There are some big reductions in miles needed for off peak flights and some peak are cheaper as well in economy or premium economy. ie Caribbean has gone from 45K to 20K off peak and 45K to 40K peak return. Prem econ 70K to 35K off peak and 70K to 50K peak.

    Most routes have very little change for peak rates from the current amount some are a little cheaper, some a little more, and some the same. Most off peak are around half the amount of miles with the longer US routes about a 1/3 less.

    If you don’t need to travel in the peak period this has made the flights a lot cheaper in the number of miles needed, and they have still left the 1 week half terms off peak unlike BA.