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Virgin Atlantic to end all flights to Dubai next year

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Virgin Atlantic has announced that it is cancelling all flights to Dubai from 31st March 2019.

As a regular traveller on the route, I always struggled with Virgin. 

Virgin Atlantic to drop Dubai route

The outbound flight from the UK is overnight which, whilst it may suit some business travellers (albeit you are heading straight into work after 2-3 hours sleep at most), didn’t work for the leisure market.  Arriving in Dubai at 8am with no hotel room to check into and sleep-deprived kids is not fun.

The British Airways options are not great either, with the first Heathrow service leaving at 12.55 which gets you in very late.  The sweet spot is taking the 9-ish services on Emirates or Etihad (to Abu Dhabi, a short taxi ride away) which land around 8pm.

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (June 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: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ card is doubled to 30,000 Virgin Points. Apply here.

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 points bonus (to 13th June) and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

A generous earning rate for a free card at 0.75 points per £1 Read our full review

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.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points (worth 60,000 Virgin Points) – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! Read our full review

Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into Virgin Points.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

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 (105)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Ben says:

    OT virgin related – What would be the best UC seats on the 787 in people options?
    Its going to be my first time in UC so want to get the best seats possible.

  • ahop says:

    OT but also Virgin related. Rob, do you know when the final Virgin offers for bonus points on the new cards are going out? I have marketing turned on (always have) but haven’t received any correspondence yet.

  • the real harry1 says:


    British Airways’ parent company, IAG, has astonished the aviation market by launching a new Vienna-based subsidiary airline with less than three weeks’ notice before flights begin.

    IAG’s new operation is called Anisec. It will be branded as Level – the same as the group’s existing long-haul budget operation.

    • the real harry1 says:

      evel’s short-haul flights begin on Tuesday 17 July. On that day flights between Gatwick and Vienna are available at £23 each way. Services start on the same day between Vienna and Palma de Mallorca.

      Over the subsequent four weeks, flights from Vienna will be launched to six Spanish destinations and three cities in Italy, as well as Paris, Dubrovnik and Larnaca in Cyprus. The latter two routes offer connection opportunities for British travellers from Gatwick via Vienna.

      The new airline uses Airbus A321 jets – bigger planes than other low-cost carriers. They seat 210 passengers, compared with a maximum of 186 on easyJet and 189 on Ryanair.

      Willie Walsh, IAG’s chief executive, said: “We are launching this new short-haul subsidiary to provide Austrian consumers with more flight choices across Europe.

      “These flights will be branded as Level to build upon the huge success of our new long haul low-cost operation.”

      IAG already has a low-cost short-haul airline, Vueling, which is based in Barcelona. Initially bookings for Level are being made through the Vueling website.

      With so many holidaymakers already booked for the summer, to launch an airline with just 19 days’ notice is most unusual. But a spokesperson for IAG said: “We’re so confident that the new operation will be a success, that tickets will fly off the shelves like hot cakes.”

    • marcw says:

      It’s been a rumour since may. Cheap flights to Vienna this summer though.

    • Jeff says:

      This is presumably trying to replicate what they would have got had they been able to buy Lauda

  • Jon says:

    Abu Dhabi airport to Dubai is a “short taxi ride”???

    78 miles. For comparison that’s more than the “shorter still” taxi ride from Heathrow to Southampton….

    • the real harry1 says:

      60-odd mins, it’s also a cheapish £40 taxi ride – whereas what would you pay LHR to Southampton, £200?

    • Rob says:

      It took us 65 minutes to Madinat Jumeirah last time and a £40 fare. From DXB it is 25 mins. You get some of the extra 40 mins back via quicker immigration too.

    • Alan says:

      Thanks for posting that. Its been 30 years since I was last in the UAE but my memory of it was that it was much more than a “Short taxi ride” between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Not losing my marbles as quickly as I’d feared!

      • Rob says:

        It is now direct motorway from the airport into Dubai – that is what has changed in the last 30 years!

        • Nick says:

          Yeah, i’ve done the taxi ride to abu from dubai many time given the better flight times (i.e. overnight!).

  • RIccatti says:


    Seems the redemption rate for Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis brands are through the roof. I remember Rob saying SPG high end hotels being expensive (on points) as they are. Even more so under the new program. Keeps hotel owners happy, I suppose.

    • RIccatti says:

      Mostly up for Ritz, and only slightly down like -5000 Marriott for St Regis. Some relative sweetspots like St Regis Rome and W Fort Lauderdale — up significantly.

  • RIccatti says:

    Point 2. Seems that plenty of crappy, convenience airport Sheraton hotels also went up.

  • New Card says:

    Domes of Elounda goes from 45k to 85k – crazy devaluation.

  • Antonio Lulic says:

    The new Intercon doesn’t appear to be bookable with the Ambassador Free Weekend Cert. What are the criteria for a hotel being bookable with that?

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