Mistake or madness? Virgin Flying Club adds £200+ to USA Upper Class flight surcharges

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Either something has gone wrong with the Virgin Atlantic pricing computer, or someone at Virgin Atlantic has been smoking something dodgy this week.

Whichever reason it is, pricing for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class redemptions to the US – and only the US, and only if you fly with Virgin Atlantic – has gone crazy.

The taxes and charges figure for ALL Virgin Atlantic Upper Class redemptions to the US from Heathrow is now showing as £764 return.  From Gatwick it is £732.

Take a look, Heathrow to Atlanta (click to enlarge):

Virgin Atlantic increases tax sharply

As you can see …. £764 of taxes and charges.

This could be a mistake of some sort …. hopefully.  Here’s why.

This screenshot shows the same route, Heathrow to Atlanta, but flying with Virgin’s partner and main shareholder Delta:

Virgin Atlantic increases miles taxes

With Delta, you pay just £464 in taxes and charges.  It is exactly £300 cheaper, to the penny, reflecting the additional £300 of charges that Virgin is adding to its own flights for some reason.

This is only happening with Virgin Atlantic routes to the US.

Here is a screenshot to Shanghai:

Virgin Atlantic increases taxes

The taxes and charges are the same as they always were – £557.

Johannesburg is unchanged at £573.  Barbados is unchanged at £533.  The same goes for all other non-US routes that I checked.

So …. what is happening here?  Has a gremlin got into the Virgin Atlantic pricing computer?  Does it really want you to stop redeeming for US routes in Upper Class?  Does it really want you to start flying Delta on routes where the two airlines share the flights (Atlanta, Boston, New York etc)?

It is all very, very odd.

How to earn Virgin Atlantic miles from UK credit cards

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Flying Club miles from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Flying Club miles.  That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles?  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.)

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  1. Yep I noticed that, just as I am looking to make a booking, anything to do with them announcing a huge loss? Very suspicious

  2. Freddy says:

    Don’t understand why virgin weren’t approached to clarify in order to complete the article.

  3. TigerTanaka says:

    Interesting story just like the Amex Platinum insurance “change” last week.

    However, HFP is now a very grown up website and should surely be contacting Virgin/Amex before publication to give them the opportunity to explain why things have changed. Speculation is fine but we just end up with 100s of comments/opinions, a few more data points and no one knows why things have happened.

    • I’m sure Virgin will be happy to provide a well-crafted quote with lots of corporate comms speak – similar to those they supplied to Rob for the New York flight competition dressed as survey (or vice versa)

  4. Would be interesting to have a direct quote from Virgin Head of Loyalty on this.
    As it stands, this has moved VFC miles from a marginal benefit to noncompetitive and hence VFC is a losing proposition.
    To add £200 to UC redemption costs at a time with a miles sale and milesboost bonus is doubly strange. Thankfully, there is a 14 day cooling off for people who’ve made those purchases which they’d be well advised to use and refund those purchases.
    Part of Virgin’s appeal is they are quirky and have the ability to do first and think second (Dream Suite for example), and correct the mistakes. Fine. This naked money-grab steps outside that brand. And that worries me as to what’s next. Will watch this one closely.

  5. I paid £638 recently for a VS UC redemption to the USA from Manchester and just assumed that was the standard taxes/fees/carrier surcharge that they charged! I paid £525.97 in 2017 on a at trip.

    What did VS have to say? I’m wondering if they’re mistakenly forgetting to charge it in DL redemptions rather than charging something extra on their own!

    • PS just checked ITA for my booking and DL about £120 cheaper than VS, however this is due to underlying fare difference. Carrier surcharge showing as £500 on both.

  6. Matthew says:

    Vote with your feet. I never fly long haul with airlines that charge crazy YQ. Only ever fly BA as RFS and done one UC VS flight ex HKG. The rest are with airlines like SQ with Krisflyer, CX with AA miles or Etihad via AA miles (no YQ) which offers way better value than Avios even with 2 for 1 voucher.

  7. Mark Roscoe says:

    I now have enough miles for an upper class reward flight from Man to Las Vegas. I had always assumed that I could only use Virgin rewards on a Virgin flight, is this correct? If my rewards can be used on Delta, how do I go about making the booking?

    • Virgin website shows Delta options as well as Virgin options.

      • Gareth Morgan says:

        Can the Virgin credit card companion voucher be used on non Virgin metal?

    • Lady London says:

      And just for info Virgin miles can be used on some other interesting partner airlines.

      Lots of people also are waiting for the expected ability to earn and burn VS miles on KLM and Air France and/or Flying Blue airlines in general. However I will wait till I see this as except for special offers those Airlines seem to require an outageously Hugh number of miles for any redemption flight at all.

  8. Lsr161 says:

    That’s funny you should bring this up this morning as I bought 2 miles tickets to Miami to go out P/ec and back upper on Thursday and I had an upgrade and the tax was £564. I queried it as it was the the same price with or without the upgrade and the agent said it was the same ! I bought he same ticket in January and paid £417.00. Maybe I should have paid the part of the journey ?? I love virgin but that price hike is a bit excessive and the site kept telling me that you could not redeem miles seats on that route didn’t matter when you were trying to fly in the year so I think they may have a glitch !
    Any thoughts

  9. Hardik Makkar says:

    Good airline but the most terrible reward scheme in the whole world. Highest taxes n lowest availability

  10. Rob – thanks for addressing the significant Miles devaluation. (Because lets call it out for what it is.)

    YQ surcharges on redemptions have been rising over the years with no justification, they cannot link it to > $100 Oil for instance. How much is YQ on a cash fare ?

    I’d appreciate a further in depth look at this poor attempt at a stealth increase and include BA in that aswell.

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