Filling the gap left by South African Airways move to drop one of its two daily Jo’burg to Heathrow services from late April, Virgin Atlantic has announced that it is doubling its Johannesburg services from Winter 2018.
Launching on 28th October, the service will use a new Boeing 787-9, assuming Virgin Atlantic still has one that is working properly.
Flying daily, it will leave Heathrow at 16.45 and land in South Africa at 5.40. This makes it the first Heathrow service of the day to arrive. Unfortunately for Virgin, the $200m aircraft will then sit on the ground earning nothing for the next 17 hours as the return flight to Heathrow does not leave until 22.20. It arrives back in Heathrow at 7.30am.
Seats will be bookable from 24th March. Whilst Virgin does not guarantee to make a certain number of reward seats available per flight, you may have a decent chance of finding something for Christmas or New Year with your Flying Club miles if you jump in early.
To maximise your miles when paying, your best bet is one of the two Virgin Atlantic Reward credit cards. These earn double miles (3 per £1 on the paid card or 1.5 per £1 on the free card) when you book at virginatlantic.com or via Virgin Holidays. Another option is American Express Preferred Rewards Gold which offers double points – 2 per £1 – when you book flight tickets directly with an airline.
PS. If you are wondering what has happened to the 2nd South African Airways landing slot, it has been leased to British Airways for five years. It is not clear what BA will do with it, but you would imagine that a valuable early morning Heathrow landing slot would end up being used for a North American or Asian service.
How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (September 2023)
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, the Reward+ card has a bonus of 15,000 Virgin Points):
SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard is doubled to 30,000 Virgin Points if you apply by 2nd October. You receive 15,000 Virgin Points with your first purchase and a further 15,000 points if you spend £3,000 within 90 days. Apply here.
You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points.
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.
Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into 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.)