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Virgin Flying Club miles splitting from the airline to create a Virgin-wide loyalty scheme

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Virgin Group, Virgin Atlantic and Delta Airlines have announced their intention to launch a brand new pan-Virgin loyalty programme with reward opportunities across all Virgin brands.

You can find out more here on the Virgin Atlantic website.

This is a further attempt by Virgin Group to bring all of its brands closer together, something which has been challenging in the past because each business has separate ownership and different shareholders.  Virgin Trains, for example, is owned by Virgin Group and Stagecoach whilst Virgin Atlantic is owned by Delta, KLM, Air France and Virgin Group (now just 20%).  Virgin Money is a PLC although it is in the process of being taken over by the parent of Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank.

Back in 2015 Virgin Group launched Virgin Red, an app which lets users earn points and prizes through quizzes, challenges and reverse auctions. By ‘getting to know’ the user, the app enables relevant Virgin products to be promoted. Virgin Red will be integrated into the new company.

An interesting ownership structure

Virgin Group and Delta Air Lines have founded a new entity, Virgin Group Loyalty Company (VGLC), which will own and manage the new loyalty scheme.

What is interesting is that Virgin Atlantic is not a shareholder.  The airline has effectively sold its loyalty scheme to the new company, although it is not known if any money changed hands.  Some deal must have been done to keep KLM and Air France happy, as they presumably invested in Virgin Atlantic assuming they would also be owning a profitable loyalty programme.

In general, moves like this are often done when an airline is in serious financial trouble.  You may remember how Etihad bought the Air Berlin loyalty programme, topbonus, at an inflated price – this was a backdoor way of injecting money into the airline without breaking EU rules on foreign investment.  There is no indication that this is being done for the same reason.

Who is running Virgin Group Loyalty Company?

VGLC will be launched in 2019 and headed up by Andrew Swaffield.  Swaffield is the well regarded former CEO of Avios Group (he was replaced by Gavin Halliday, who left to run Etihad Guest and Etihad Holidays, and who was replaced by the current CEO Drew Crawley).  VGLC will hopefully be a happier job than the one he left Avios Group to do – become CEO of Monarch Airlines ……

Andrew Swaffield said about the new programme:

“Virgin is one of the most admired brands in the UK and across the world, serving 53 million customers each year across 60 companies. Customers expect to be rewarded for their loyalty to Virgin and we want to ensure Virgin customers get the very best rewards possible. Our ambition is to bring the Virgin companies together and combine their appeal to customers, working together to create a truly outstanding offer”

Virgin Atlantic has said that there will be no changes to Virgin Flying Club for now, and that in the future members will have an expanded range of ways to earn and spend miles via the new Virgin loyalty programme.

Oli Byers, SVP Global Sales and Customer Loyalty, Virgin Atlantic, said:

“Today Flying Club offers Virgin Atlantic’s customers compelling and valuable rewards for flying on Virgin Atlantic, Delta and a range of Flying Club partners. This will continue to be the case, but at the same time we’re excited to work collaboratively with Virgin Group to build a stronger loyalty programme and unleash the power of our shared brand to reward customers for their loyalty to Virgin. We’ll be giving customers more reasons to join Flying Club and fly with Virgin Atlantic and our airline partners.”

It is important to note that Virgin Flying Club miles will be the ‘currency’ of the new scheme.

My initial concern here is how the relationship between Flying Club and Virgin Atlantic will work.  As they will soon be totally separate companies, the airline will effectively be selling reward flights to the loyalty programme.  It is fair to say that Avios Group and BA already work like this, but at the end of the day both companies are owned by the same parent and should be pushing in the same direction.  That is not necessarily the case here.

My other worry is that Virgin Flying Club moves towards revenue-based redemption once it is legally separate from the airline.  After all, it is highly likely that all of the other redemption options with Virgin Trains, Virgin Active, Virgin Media etc will be revenue-based at around 0.5p per mile.

I am also intrigued as to why Delta Air Lines is a shareholder in Virgin Group Loyalty Company but Virgin Atlantic (49% Delta owned) is not.  It is worth noting that we do not know the exact split of ownership between Virgin Group and Delta.

It will also be interesting to see how the arrival in 2019 of KLM and Air France as Virgin Flying Club earning and redeeming partners is impacted by this.

With Virgin Group as a shareholder, I am confident that VGLC will be a success.  Virgin Group will be able to put pressure on Virgin-branded businesses to sign up, and it could become a contractual requirement for new partners.

We will keep you updated as we find out more …..

The Virgin Atlantic website has the full statement here.

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (December 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):

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 bonus points 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.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. 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 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

Crazy 100,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY) and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee 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 an annual £200 Amex Travel credit 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 (83)

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

  • Colin JE says:

    Virgin will have to put its house in order to make this scheme work. Here’s a warning if you are applying for the Virgin Atlantic Mastercard. My wife got an offer in the post with extra miles if you spend over a certain amount for the first few months. For the Reward+ card, in addition to 15k miles on the first purchase, the offer said you get: ” – 6,000 miles a month in your first 3 months, when you spend a minimum of £1,000 each month.” I’d already had the Reward+ card for a month so when I called them they said the offer would apply to me too even though I’d not spent enough, I upped my spending. But the offer is misleading. It turns out that you have to spend £1k in each and every month after the card is issued, otherwise you get nothing! Calls to Virgin Money CS have been equally misleading, with the first agent saying I’d still be eligible even though I’d missed the target in my first full statement month, then the second agent said it was based on calendar months and I should get payment in September, then her supervisor told me I’d not get anything. He kindly (!) offered to escalate it as a complaint, as CS couldn’t award points. We’ll see.

    • Neil Spellings says:

      Not sure why you felt you were mislead..the small print in the email offering you the bonus points clearly state there are three “qualifying periods”; the first beginning June 18th and lasting until your next full statement period. The next two periods are based on your next two statement periods. There is no mention of calendar months so the agent you spoke to was incorrect. There is also no mention of having to reach the spending limit in every period, so if you missed the bonus in the first one, you should still get the bonus miles from the second and third. Note that the miles seem to be posted a month in arrears, so I doubt many will have actually received them yet.

      • Roberto says:

        The 18th of june was an example date. Its of no relevance except if your first billing cycle started on the 18th of June.

        Its not relevent to every body. You need to spend the £1000 ( or what ever your target is ) durring your first 3 billing cycles to qualify for the bonuses.. simples

        • Rob says:

          Actually, just realised that I have messed up now. I applied for my wife and the card would have arrived on Saturday. Unfortunately we’re not back home for 2 weeks. This means the first £1500 will need to be done in a 2 week period …

      • Jon Arnold says:

        I’ve met the spend required in the 1st period and received my statement with no mention of the 6000 bonus miles. It seems they add it to the next statement (clause 4) so let’s hope…..

    • Relaxo says:

      As Neil says, the periods were very clearly described in the fine print. I’m in the similar position that I got the card before receiving the promo email, so hoping they can retroactively apply the offer to me. Have sent them a secure msg about it but havent heard back yet.

      • Memesweeper says:

        Count yourselves lucky to get the damn card! I’ve applied, declined, appealed and declined again. Every other lender sends me plastic at the drop of a hat… but this is the card and these are the points I want!

    • Mr dee says:

      It’s going to be statement periods not Calender months

  • Chris says:

    I haven’t signed up to Virgin Red. Do you have an invite code, Rob? It promises both extra points if I use one.

  • Rash says:

    Slightly OT: Did anyone get the 10,000 points from a Virgin life insurance policy yet? Im referring to the offer on the 21st of June, I was accepted but no direct debits have been taken yet…

    • Mr. K says:

      I’ve had 2 direct debits taken already. I assume the points after 6 months or something like that (those were the original rules if I recall correctly). I’d be worried about no direct debits if I were you, though. Call them!

    • Munch says:

      I have not received my points but two payments taken so far – July and Aug.
      I believe the offer stated 6 payments and then points are paid 60 days later so not expecting the points until Feb 2019.

  • The Original Nick says:

    Slightly OT, I’m trying to link up my girlfriends Amex MR points transfer to the VS account. There’s 10 digits showing as her VS account. Do I need to add zero’s in front to add her account to her Amex account to be able to transfer and be verified?

    • Peter K says:

      Ring Amex customer services and they can sort it. Not sure if that helps if your girlfriend won’t at least chat to give permission to talk to you though.

  • Tracey says:

    The virgin red app gives you chances to win Virgin miles if nothing else.
    50 bonus points (for you and me) if you add the code UXWFNR. To do this click the picture of yourself top right, then the settings wheel top left and choose ‘invite friends’.

  • Colin JE says:

    It turns out that the Virgin Atlantic Rewards+ card must be the most generous intro offer out there. The complaints team came back to me within a couple of days and they are applying a first qualifying period that is even more generous than the example in their Ts&Cs: 18 June – 17 August i.e. the first two statement periods and about 7 weeks after actually receiving the card. Rob, you should find you’re okay. It turns out that the CS staff’s knowledge of how this offer works is a bit mixed. My first CS agent said I’d missed the first qualifying period (wrong) but would be ok for the next two (right). The second said I’d met it in the first period but I’d have to wait a month before I got the miles (correct), but I was in my third period (wrong), then her supervisor said I’d have to spend the full amount every month, which I’d missed the first month so I could not qualify at all (completely wrong). The complaints team have written to me to confirm how the scheme works and what I’ll get (and have given me £50 for my trouble). Seeing as it means I’ll get another 18k miles so long as I spend enough for the next 2 months I’m a happy bunny.
    Moral: If you think the bonus rules aren’t being implemented right it’s worth complaining. And the T&C page is quite right.

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