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Virgin Atlantic opening a Clubhouse lounge at Manchester Airport

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Whilst the entire airline industry was publicly expressing its sadness at the collapse of Thomas Cook last week, the truth is that the failure of the airline division opens up a lot of new opportunities.

In regional short-haul, Ryanair, Jet2 and easyJet will be keen to pick up the additional business.

At London Gatwick, British Airways has already said that it will be bidding for the Thomas Cook slots.  I would also expect Virgin Atlantic to be interested.

The real opportunity for Virgin Atlantic, however, is at Manchester.

Manchester Airport new Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse

There was, amongst Virgin Atlantic staff, a feeling that Manchester was only big enough for one long-haul hub carrier.  With Thomas Cook out of the picture, and neither British Airways or Norwegian looking suitable candidates to buy the long-haul slots, Virgin Atlantic is looking in good shape to capitalise.

This was Thomas Cook’s long-haul network in Summer 2019:

  • Cancun – Glasgow, Gatwick, Manchester
  • Cayo Coco (Cuba) – Gatwick, Manchester
  • Holguin – Gatwick, Manchester
  • Las Vegas – Manchester
  • Los Angeles – Manchester
  • Montego Bay – Manchester
  • New York JFK – Manchester
  • Orlando – Glasgow, Gatwick, Manchester
  • Punta Cana – Manchester
  • San Francisco – Manchester
  • Seattle – Manchester
  • Varadero – Manchester

As you can see, there is a lot of potential here for Virgin Atlantic to pick up additional routes from Manchester.  The snag is that only 38% of Thomas Cook flights were sold as ‘seat only’ – the rest were sold as packages, mainly via Thomas Cook itself, and that business may well be gone forever unless Virgin Holidays ramps up its operations considerably.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Manchester Terminal 2 extension

Back to that new Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in Manchester …..

The point of the discussion above was to allow you to set the Virgin Atlantic announcement on Friday in context.

This is what the airline promised:

Allocating a Boeing 747 to the majority of Manchester to New York JFK flights, leading to a substantial increase in seating capacity

Adding a 3rd weekly service to Barbados for the Winter 2019 season

Announcing the long planned opening of a Clubhouse in the new pier at Manchester Terminal 2 (image above), which is due to open in “Spring 2020”

Refurbishing the Virgin Atlantic V-Room, the lounge used by Virgin Holidays customers

There was also, for Gatwick customers, the announcement of two additional weekly flights to Barbados this Winter, taking the total to nine.

We don’t know much about the new Clubhouse except:

“In order to provide an unrivalled travel experience, Virgin Atlantic will bring its iconic Clubhouse lounge to Manchester for the first time from Spring 2020.  Upper Class customers and Gold Card members can take advantage of the exclusive space before their flight, which will include a la carte dinning and a full service bar, quiet working spaces and a spa, allowing passengers to relax and rejuvenate before they depart.”

Given how appalling all of the existing lounges are at Manchester Terminal 2, this will be a massive improvement for Virgin’s Upper Class customers.  I am keen to take a look next Spring.

Looking forward, this statement is clearly a response to the demise of Thomas Cook:

“The airline is now reviewing options to add further flights and new destinations to its Winter 2019 / Summer 2020 schedule. A greater number of flights from both Gatwick and Manchester to Orlando will come into effect during peak travel periods, with further details to be announced shortly.”

Seats for the new Manchester / Gatwick to Barbados services will go on sale tomorrow, although I do not yet know what dates they are operating.  It may be an opportunity to pick up a Winter break to Barbados with your Virgin Flying Club miles ……

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (January 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 points bonus 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.

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel 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 sign-up 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 (33)

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

  • Oh Matron! says:

    This could work very well for VS… Especially with FlyBe too. I was at a conference last month in Vegas and some of my Dutch counterparts flew via MAN from AMS due to the partnership. This can only get better.

    Regarding a proper Clubhouse: a roadside caravan serving hotdogs would be an improvement….!

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      Indeed, – the current abysmal lounge situation (all T2 – not just Virgin) probably drives away considerable premium traffic that can choose to go through either Manchester or London (basically the whole of the Midlands). A decent Clubhouse could make quite a few MAN routes a lot more Upper-heavy and therefore profitable.

      • Steve says:

        Great to have a VS Clubhouse at last. Wonder what the other premium carriers have in store for lounges at T2? I can’t imagine SQ, QR and CX passengers find the lounge options appealing compared to what’s available at LHR on those same carriers.

        Will we see SQ contract the VS Clubhouse for its MAN-SIN/IAH premium paxs? I think SQ still partner/codeshare with VS so makes some sense.

        I hear that domestic will be added to what is T2, allowing BA to move over, and perhaps a new BA lounge could then cater for the other OW carriers. I assume AA, AY and IB will move to new T2 if BA moves and once T1 is demolished.

        Is T3 going to be the LCC terminal once the terminal transformations are done?

  • ADS says:

    the irony that just over a month ago VS announced that they were shifting a plane from MAN to LGW

    • Steve says:

      I think shifting a VS aircraft off the 3 times weekly MAN-BOS A330 service, for DL to pick it up as a daily 757 service on their metal neutral JV.

      Be interesting to see if VS/DL pick up slots to run SFO and SEA now that TCX is off those routes, on DL metal until VS have spare aircraft in their fleet capacity. Interesting times for MAN.

  • Jim says:

    Re: Virgin redemptions on ANA, why does nobody sort redemptions according to taxes. I could pay just 10,000 miles for a round the world trip but I don’t care if I have to pay the same amount of cash as a normal flight. Apart from ANA, what are the sweet spot redemptions PRICE-WISE for Virgin miles?

    • Rob says:

      Because ANA flies from loads of European cities to Tokyo and the taxes should match a cash ticket.

  • Gareth brain says:

    Has there been any news on the extra flight from Manchester to Barbados this winter? Looking at availability in March for rewards and it’s still 0 in premium for Feb and Mar outbound?

  • Anne says:

    Flew Virgin to Boston from Manchester this week and MAN – JFK in May. The facilities at terminal 2 in Manchester are appalling. If only there was even a Prêt à Manger! Lounges like Butlins. The Virgin Clubhouse will serve very few and T2 is still sh—-

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

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