Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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)

  • Marc says:

    OT: I am quite new to this game and after a bit of advice. I have balances in both my avios and BA accounts, and would like to consolidate them in my BA account (must be my OCD!).

    Is there any reason why I should hold off on doing this? Is there ever a % bonus offered when transferring avios between accounts?

    • Simmo says:

      Never seen a bonus between Avios/BA.
      However they do quite often have different offers on BA/Avios/Iberia sites so always worth keep accounts active.

      Last month(s) it was 50% of Iberia/Iberia express flights via avios.com

    • Genghis says:

      Hi Marc. Welcome to the world of points collecting. I always consolidate avios into my BAEC account, I guess as large numbers look better than small numbers. Anyway – as avios in avios.com and BAEC are essentially the same currency, there’s never a bonus for transferring between them. There are only ever bonuses for transferring between different currencies – e.g. from Tesco clubcard to avios or from Membership Rewards to avios etc. Hope this helps.

  • Scottydogg says:

    I need 205 virgin points for a 40,000 redemption , anyone have an easy way of getting these points ?
    I have Amex reward points but think the minium is 1000 points transfer , seems like a waste of 795 points as I intend to use this redemption and then not use Virgin again

    • M B rown says:

      Can you not just buy a few (not sure what the minimum amount is).

    • fbrj says:

      You can download a VS shopping toolbar for 250mls

      Follow links from here

      https://headforpoints.com/2015/03/22/250-free-virgin-flying-club-miles-for-installing-their-shopping-toolbar/

      I used it quite recently to keep an old VS account live

      • Scottydogg says:

        Thanks , will look into this tonight as that would work out well

    • John says:

      £103 of virgin train tickets may be the most reliable way to get them quickly.

      E-rewards gives 500 miles signup bonus per virgin account if you haven’t taken it already and can find the right signup link.

      • Genghis says:

        And with non-refundable advance tickets you get the points very quickly, up to 5 days after you take the trip.

        With refundable tickets however, IIRC you have to wait up to 65 days for the points to post (but then if there is a problem you can only claim journeys within 90 days, meaning only a 25 day claim window).

  • M B rown says:

    Its not as bad as it could have been, but the main annoyance from my point of view is that I was saving up for 2 x summer 2018 upper class redemptions to the US west coast for our honeymoon, we may have to go PE for one leg now as it will be over 100k extra between us!

    I think even if I could reach that many I think would rather use them for 2 x PE tickets to somewhere like NY during the ‘off peak’ periods.

    • GS says:

      Exactly the same here – I was so close to two UC West coast redemptions, which are now completely out of reach. Really gutted… Its a way of catching up with BA’s 3x Avios for Business.

    • Jake says:

      Dont forget that you can still upgrade cash fares with points, so could pay cash for Premium and upgrade with points to Upper (or even economy to upper). I did this on my Vegas-Manchester flight earlier in the year and it was still amazing value, saving loads of points in the process.

  • Ben says:

    I wonder what will happen to companion flights and rewards like upgrade vouchers earned with the MBNA VAA Black Credit Card. I did not found a new companion table for example on the micro site.

  • nonsoloinglese says:

    Not being able to pool the miles (unless you are Gold) for a child is absolute bollocks on a number of levels:

    1 – kids don’t fly as much as adults
    2 – likelyhood is that they fly Y or at a push PE on a family holiday.
    3 – Very few ways of earning miles via 3rd parties.
    4 – You will end up with a load of orphan miles..

  • sprout7 says:

    How does Virgin’s PE offer compare with that by BA?
    Rightly or wrongly, I have in mind that it sits between BA PE and Business. (Need to persuade mrs sprout that it might not be such a bad option!).
    Any thoughts appreciated.

    • james says:

      In all fairness the products are almost like to like. 2 – 4 – 2 seating, slightly better food, a bit more attentive service, smaller number of pax in the cabin. I have flown both and they are almost identical.

  • Simmo says:

    Seems the availability of redemption’s to the westcoast US have taken a massive hit on this news, I cant find many at all in Upper compared to last week!

  • Bob says:

    VAA has become a lot less attractive unless they can conjure up a BAPP-style 241 offer through a credit card to go with it…