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Mistake fixed or backtracking? Virgin Atlantic cuts £100 from Upper Class flight taxes

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Last weekend we ran an article showing how pricing for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class redemptions to the US – and only the US, and only if you fly with Virgin Atlantic – had gone crazy.

The taxes and charges figure for ALL Virgin Atlantic Upper Class redemptions to the US from Heathrow had risen to £764 return.

For example, Heathrow to Atlanta (click to enlarge):

Virgin Atlantic increases tax sharply

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

This has now changed.

If you do the same search today, you will get this (click to enlarge):

Virgin USA taxes and charges

The taxes and charges figure has dropped to ‘only’ £664 return.  This is a drop of exactly £100.

Here is a Boston flight, showing the same price of £664:

Virgin Boston taxes and charges

Of course, you can still save a lot of money flying with Virgin’s partner and main shareholder Delta, on routes which the two airlines share:

Virgin Atlantic increases miles taxes

With Delta, you still pay just £464 in taxes and charges.  The gap with Virgin is now ‘just’ £200 rather than £300 as it was last weekend.

Other non-US routes remain unchanged.  Heathrow to Shanghai, for example, remains at £557 return despite a flight time almost twice as long as Boston.

£664 is, perhaps unsurprisingly, identical to what British Airways asks following its recent hike in surcharges.  Here is a Club World return from Heathrow to Boston:

BA reward pricing

…. which comes out at £667 in taxes and charges.

This makes me think that we aren’t going to see any further reductions from Virgin Atlantic.

If you have booked an Upper Class redemption on Virgin Atlantic in the last 10 days or so, you may want to see if you can get a refund.  Cancelling and rebooking is an option but, of course, you will be paying the cancellation fee which reduces your saving – and definitely do not do this unless there are other redemption seats showing for the same dates.  There is no guarantee that the seats you cancel will go back into reward inventory.

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (June 2024)

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 18,000 Virgin Points and the free card has a bonus of 3,000 Virgin Points):

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Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

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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.

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

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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 (52)

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

  • NigelC says:

    Asked for a £100 refund on a UC redemption flight I booked to Las Vegas last week (and I had read the article first). The response was if the taxes were to rise they don’t contact customers to ask for the extra money. Sounds like a cop-out.

    Could cancel and rebook, but they claim the flight is full and there is no guarantee I would definitely get the tickets again.

    • Mark S says:

      I phoned Customer Services and didn’t get anywhere on a refund of £100 – they said the charges change frequently(!) and it was just bad luck for me!! They advised sending an email to Customer Relations – which I have just done. I’ll update when I get a response. (I made my UC booking last Thursday)

    • Doug M says:

      Did they call them taxes or did you? Because a person saying that is one thing, Virgin passing them of as “the taxes” is quite different.

      • Lady London says:

        Really, really time soneone took these airlines to court over what they are calling “taxes”.
        (1) British Airways (2) Virgin (3) Lufthansa

        • TripRep says:


          I’d love HMRC to do an undercover investigation, ie a few mock telephone bookings to hear how ignorant CS staff claim that Carrier Imposed Surcharge costs are actually Government taxes.

          Imagine them suing VS, BA, etc.

        • meta says:

          I suspect this will be the next on the agenda for EU Commission. There has already been some lobbying.

        • callum says:

          Airlines don’t call them “taxes”. Rob does, they don’t. I’m also not sure HMRC would care that call centre agents occasionally use “taxes” as shorthand for the whole lot (I can’t remember them doing so with me – is it really the norm?). Surely the worst thing they’d do is tell them to stop?

    • Mikee says:

      I’ve found Virgin very poor when it comes to transparency and increasing surcharges on award tickets. About 18 months ago, they changed the charges using miles on Delta One (on the same routes as Virgin fly) from approx £100 to £350…to bring Delta “in alignment” with Virgin. No communication to customers and no mention on their website.

      Premium Economy charges have also increased lately, again with no warning to customers. Call Centre staff I spoke to said the “taxes” had increased and the extra money was going straight into Mr Trump’s pocket. Complete BS as checking the fares on ITA Matrix showed no change in taxes but an increase in the airline surcharge of $100 over the previous fare.

      Unfortunately, most customers are oblivious and just pay-up but more should be done to challenge when these increases are made as it effectively devalues the miles people have earned.

  • Alex says:

    I’ve got 2 Virgin vouchers, one from the free card and one from the Virgin+. I don’t have status. Could I use them in conjunction, one of them as a 2-4-1 in Economy and the other to upgrade to Premium?

  • Frenske says:

    Just shows that taxes are set to an arbitrary level and some of the taxes is actually part of the ticket despite paying x miles for it.

  • WBenson says:

    Makes me so angry that airlines are allowed to call them taxes. They aren’t taxes unless they go to the Treasury, which we all know they don’t. It is a surcharge, pocketed by the airline.

    • Bonglim says:

      To be fair, most of the time they call them taxes and surcharges.
      Still ridiculous, but I think they are quite careful with their wording on the website. There might still be a case if Someone takes them on. Budget airlines and other suppliers got slammed for credit card surcharges which are not related to the cost of processing the card. These charges are not related to the cost of anything either.

      • Boobaholic says:

        Good point.
        How much are taxes in reality ?

        • Lady London says:

          Tiny. The UK government is the worst actually. They have APD which is an open honest and frank tax of the UK government on the wallet of anyone who dares to depart on a flight out of the UK. Other than that, there are some airport fees and some other government fees for things like immigration at airports in many places however mostly these are low. Heathrow Airport, now owned by the Spanish i believe, has exceptionally high passenger handling fees which airlines pass on to cost of tickets under the tax heading.

          I am not up on the figures but if British Airways says they want nearly £800 for a business class return ticket to the USA, in addition to miles, then uk government gets less than £200 of that in APD tax, there are a few other genuine taxes and charges on the ticket mostly at the UK end, but prob true tax, government charges and other airport charges would make things that are reasonable to call taxes and airport/government charges well under £300 per ticket. And yet British Airways is demanding nearly £800.

          Noting that doing it this way they have also taken something like £500 out of any commission they had to pay travel agents. As it’s not ticket price, it’s taxes innit. Of which British Airways has trousered nearly £500/

          Take a look at any fare breakdown in ita matrix and you will see the extent of the lying misleading and obfuscating. The above is only a theoretical example.

  • TripRep says:

    Still no word on when single ticket redemptions with FlyBE connections will be possible?

    I wager o/w upper class to US could be possible for around £250+47.5k miles from Inverness via Manchester. That would rival BA & LHR.

  • Boobaholic says:


  • Boobaholic says:

    Iberia will be next 🙁

    85k Avios + £157 to JNB vs BA’s 150k Avios plus £600 !!!

  • BJ says:

    You’re all comparing apples to pears. Virgin and others can charge what they like, up to you whether you want to buy or not. Even if it were £1000 it’s hardly scandalous because you’re getting a flexible ticket. If you want nonflexible nonrefundable tickets to the States stop moaning and just buy one for £1100 in business since they’re not that hard to find, and collect and use your miles for something that makes more sense.

    • Mark2 says:


    • Will says:

      Flexible tickets for a very restricted set of dates, I do agree with what you’re getting at but there comes a point when you’re paying a lot of money to potentially travel on an inconvenient date.

      Perhaps if they made more seats available and throttled the cash element based on demand that could make sense.

      • Ricatti says:

        Well the whole country is squeezed into this Virgin and BA availability to the US.

        Virgin regarded as classy one.

        Once “allocated” reward space finished, it does not make sense for the airline to offer it to you for £200 extra (to original miles & surcharge) when they can sell the same seat for £3-4k.

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