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Virgin news: the new A350 Upper Class tray table, 50% bonus buying Flying Club miles

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Here are some exclusive pictures of the new Virgin Atlantic A350 tray table!

There is a lot to like about the new Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Suite which launched on the A350 last year.  Here is our review of the new Upper Class Suite if you haven’t seen it yet.

Two issues quickly became apparent, however.  The first was the lack of at-seat storage, although there is plenty of space in the overhead lockers.  The second and (literally) more pressing issue was the tray table.

I have to admit that I sat in the mock-up cabin in Crawley pre-launch and did not spot this, but then I have a 34 inch waist.  For anyone who is pregnant or who does not share my svelte figure, the new Upper Class tray table was problematic.  It only had two positions – stored or fully out – and when fully out it was a very cosy fit against your stomach.

The first aircraft with the redesigned tray table is now in service and the remainder will be retrofitted.  As you can see from the photos below, sent by a reader (thanks!), the table can now fold out and expand, depending on how you want to use it.

See here:

New Virgin Atlantic upper class tray table

which opens into this.  I still haven’t tried the A350 in the air yet but hopefully I can see it in action before too long.

New Virgin Atlantic upper class tray table

Get up to 50% bonus when you buy Virgin Flying Club miles

Tomorrow (Thursday) is the day when we should discover how much it will cost to redeem Virgin Flying Club miles for Air France and KLM flights.

If it is attractive – and I honestly don’t know because we haven’t seen the numbers yet either – you may be interested to know that Virgin Flying Club is running a short ‘flash sale’ when you buy miles.

The maximum bonus is 50%.  We have not seen a 50% bonus for a LONG time – I couldn’t find any HFP article from the archive where the deal was so generous.

The link to buy miles is here.

The closing date for the bonus is Sunday 16th February.  The bonus is staggered:

  • 15% bonus when you buy 5,000 – 9,000 miles
  • 20% bonus when you buy 10,000 – 29,000 miles
  • 30% bonus when you buy 30,000 – 69,000 miles
  • 40% bonus when you buy 70,000 – 100,000 miles
  • 50% bonus when you buy 101,000 – 150,000 miles

At the top end, 150,000 Flying Club miles, which comes to 225,000 miles with the bonus, will cost you £2,250.  This works out at exactly 1p per mile.

As usual with these deals, it is difficult to recommend buying miles unless you plan to make an immediate redemption.  1p per mile IS good but I would want to know for certain that I would be using them in a profitable way.

Remember that, until 28th February you receive 25,000 Virgin Flying Club miles with the £160 Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card.  This is a better deal than buying 25,000 miles for £315!  Full details of the offer are in this article.

The link to buy miles is here.

Virgin Atlantic buy miles bonus

Will the Government take an equity stake in Flybe?

Talks are continuing over the terms of a Government loan to Flybe, soon to be rebranded as Virgin Connect.

The BBC reported yesterday that the Government may ask for equity warrants.  This would allow it to receive discounted shares in Connect Airways, the Flybe holding company, as part of the loan.  The price of these shares would be set so that it made no sense to buy them at the moment, but the guaranteed price would allow a profit to be made if the value of the company rose.

One problem here, of course, is that Connect Airways is a private company.  Exercising a warrant would leave the Government holding shares which could not easily be sold, given that they are not quoted on any stock exchange.  There would also be minimal demand from elsewhere for a minority stake with no real power.

I am not saying that the Government should not make a loan, because there are broader economic reasons for keeping niche air routes and regional airports open.  Trying to dress it up as a ‘commercial’ loan, however, is never going to wash.

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.)

Comments (96)

  • The_real_a says:

    Prices are already loaded. For example

    MAN to AMS. 4000 plus £28.54
    HUY to AMS. 4000 plus £44.38

    No sign of RFS equivalent.

    • The_real_a says:

      Oh dear. Points seem to be dynamically altered based on demand. Points up to 8000 one way on certain dates. Need a calandar view to make any sense of it. Hopefully desktop version allows this.

      • Sandgrounder says:

        Have you got an example date for 8k MAN-AMS in economy? I can only find 8k for business.

      • BJ says:

        Stated from the outset that most were too optimistic. Just couldn’t ever see AF/KLM letting Virgin sell business seats on an AF plane for 75k to compete with BA where Flying Blue members were expected to pay 104,000+ for a premium economy seat on the same plane. How could that ever work? Even if the regions to AMS/CDG prong is comparable to Flying Blue which it looks like it might be then it rarely makes sense as the total easyjet fare can be less or comparable to award fees/taxes. If Virgin prices are fully dynamic like Flying Blue then all the excitement has been for nothing.

        • Marcw says:

          It can’t be fully dynamic. Virgin will only have access to redemption fare buckets (X in economy, ? in business, Don’t know either for premium economy). Flying Blue can be dynamic on AF and KLM metal, because each seat on the plane can be bought with miles – that’s why, once redemptions are sold out, mile value jumps crazily.

          • LewisB says:

            Where are you getting these figures? Virgin won’t let me look it simply says not available yet.

          • BJ says:

            I understand but I figured the joint venture might mean that there was sufficient integration/sharing data to allow them to do so if they wished? In any case, if Virgin only have access to standard award availability then the pricing on AF/KLM means there are going to be a lot of extremely frustrated people looking for availability on popular routes. It might look good in the short term due to Coronavirus as we see with BA but that is not going to last forever.

        • koroleon says:

          Your comparison of Flying Blue and Flying Club redemption rates does not make sense. You can already spend Delta Skymiles for AF/KL flights at more favourable rates than FB.

          • BJ says:

            There are other factors to consider here for AF/KLM, not least they could lose a lot of FB members to FC were the latter much more generous. Anyway you will know shortly and I’m still betting the optimists will be disappointed.

            • Rob says:

              With no 241 it can’t compare with BA direct anyway. Lower taxes ex AMS would be a factor too.

              Having done a dummy booking, Dubai is 107k offpeak and 127k peak from AMS plus £250 of taxes. This compares with 100k/120k plus £550 on BA.

          • marcw says:

            I feel the 241 is slowly becoming irrelevant with all these Business sales, unless you need flexibility of redemptions. First, it´s not a 241 – the amount of fees BA charges is (fill in whatever you feel).

            I wonder how the situation would be if ba 241 with redemption fees vs X airline 2x required (vs BA) miles but ZERO redemption fees (just taxes).

      • koroleon says:

        One-way business class AMS-HKG on KLM:
        June 19th: 112k + 196E
        June 20th: 122k + 196E

        Also AMS-LHR-HKG on KLM + Virgin is 67.5k on some dates and 76.5k on others. So it’s either peak/off-peak pricing or dynamic in general.

        • jc says:

          That’s peak/off peak. Precisely mirrors VS redemptions which also rise by 10,000 points from 20 June – 6 Sept and a couple of other periods. Other than that it’s fixed

    • The_real_a says:

      AMS to HKG {biz} 120k plus 194euro
      AMS to LAX {economy} 19k plus 209euro
      AMS to TLV {biz) 40k plus 131euro

      Seems like the airport codes have not been loaded for the wider network yet.

    • Marcw says:

      Not unexpected. Virgin was not going to subsidise shirt haul redemptions.

    • Gulz says:

      Not sure if anyone noticed yet, but VS website doesn’t (yet) let book connecting flights via AMS/CDG. I tried LCY -> DEL it showed no availability. I tried Multi City LCY -> AMS and AMS -> DEL on the same day (lands in AMS at 10AM, departs from AMS at 14:25) – still showed no availability.
      But when I tried Multi City on different days, it does seem to work.
      Shame connections at AMS/CDY will require separate booking and re-checking of luggage.

  • Mr(s) Entitled says:

    To dress it up as a commercial loan it simply needs a commercial rate. No need to over complicate matters other than to generate fees for vested parties.

  • Graham says:

    OT

    Amex Gold renewal coming up this week. 10000 points bonus within 60 days of renewal. If I were to renew, wait for the points and then close the card soon after would they claw it back?

    Don’t want any drama so will just close it if the above will cause any issues with Amex.

  • SG says:

    Good morning all
    Looking for a bit of advice please
    Couple of days before decided to put a couple of inbound reward seats on hold with Virgin Atlantic(booked the outbound about 10 days ago and waiting for inbound to be loaded-330 days)
    It was frankly at the agent suggestion in waiting for more seats loading(I actually wanted seats for the days before the date I put on hold)
    Was given a reference number after I double checked the details with the agent who admitted that had a long day at work)
    Last night I decided I will go ahead and book the seats and discovered with horror that he seats he put on hold were for the outbound which I already had seats for
    The supervisor I was out through with had sort of redress fir the situation and offered no options,as it was only a hold with no payment taken they take no responsibility
    Terrible dissapoined with VS,an airline never flown or dealt with their CS before ti the point I am ready to cancel our VS accounts and credit cards(one VS Reward +)
    I have decided I will write a formal complain as they need t take responsibility for their mistake and offer a solution for the disappointment caused(marriage anniversary holiday)

    Please advise what are my options
    Many thanks

    • Anna says:

      You can lodge a formal complaint, ask for recordings of the original call etc, but there’s no guarantee that the outcome would be that your seats on hold would be honoured.

    • Doug M says:

      To ask again nicely. To emphasise that agent chose wrong flight, ask them to listen to recording. Ultimately to suck it up and move on. Virgin and customer service is a myth they promote, they’re hard nosed businesses like any other.

      Interesting you out this on the buy points article. So many sites promote the buy points offer and conclude they’re not worth it, except in very niche circumstances. Yet again and again these articles run. I still think anyone exchanging money for points is taking a big risk, and without specific immediate costed use is just wrong.

      • Harry T says:

        @Doug M
        You only have to look at the incoming Marriott devaluation to appreciate the folly of buying and holding points.

        I can see the value of buying and using immediately if the circumstances are appropriate – for instance, I purchased 80,000 IHG miles, when their sale was on, to redeem for the new HIX in Melbourne when it was only 20,000 a night. Paid the equivalent of £75 per night when cash prices were £200, as it is the race day week and weekend! And that is by far the cheapest hotel near Albert Park. The redemption price is now 40,000 a night and cash prices keep shooting up.

        • BJ says:

          Golden rule is earn and burn, but what if the cost of buying points or miles goes up and/or the incentives to purchase goes down? There has been a lot of incentives over the last two years admitedly but things can change. You need to see points and miles as money and then it comes down to individual attitudes to risk. If my stash of avios substantially decreases and I was certain I would continue to redeem them for premium cabins over Xmas and New Year, and I continued to value flexibility, then I would have no hesitation to purchase despite the risk of devaluation as I would remain confident of coming out comfortably ahead.

      • Rob says:

        Which is what we say …

        I just bought a big slug of Hilton because it slashes my hotel costs at the ITB travel show in Berlin next month. Did the same with Hyatt in Hamburg last year. It works well if you know what you’re doing.

        • Anna says:

          A very fancy-looking Curio “wellness resort” is currently being constructed in Grand Cayman. It’s safe to say that cash rates will be very high so I am stockpiling Hilton points with a view to a 5 night redemption (hopefully!) next year. I am fairly confident that topping up my account with purchased points when bonus offers are on make sense in this case also!

          • Anna says:

            They were breaking ground when I was there last August, so it’ll be interesting to see how far along they are when we go back at Easter.

    • Yorkieflyer says:

      How could you have had seats put on hold for flights that hadn’t been released yet? Sorry to say but I think you’ve misunderstood what is possible and clearly there was a breakdown in communication between you and the agent

      • SG says:

        Thanks Ana and all others
        Yorkieflyer,You misunderstood,seats were available,obviously you can hold them for 72 hours.

        • DB2020 says:

          When I had an issue with an error made by one of Virgin Atlantic’s telephone agents, I complained about it. They retrieved the recording of the conversation, listened to it, then came back to me to confirm that the error was indeed theirs. Not only did they correct it, but also gave me 10000 FC miles, which I had not asked for or expected.

          So perhaps you could raise a formal complaint and see what happens.

          • SG says:

            Hi DB2020
            Thanks for sharing your experience
            This is what I intend doing
            They need to accept liability for the agent’s mistake in the course of his employment and offer a solution.
            What I found unacceptable is that instead of offering to listen to recordings they have tried to fobb me off!

  • Henry says:

    To be honest the agent is only human and mistakes can and do happen.
    You parted with no money so i don’t see why you are so angyry-entitled-upset?
    Canceling your card would be cutting your nose off to spite your face.

  • Doug M says:

    Gov financially supporting Flybe is crazy. What guarantees would they ever have that the UK specific routes would be maintained. The same ones that Kraft gave over Cadbury production no doubt.

    • Lady London says:

      + 1. It’s nuts.

      The clear indicator is that there is no word of Virgin stepping up. So why should the UK government?

  • Waddle says:

    Does buying miles from Virgin also code as points.com?

      • BJ says:

        Why do most use points.com, are they being paid by them? Shouldn’t be difficult to sell their own miles on their own web pages if they wanted too.

        • Rob says:

          I must admit that I have never got my head around this myself. It clearly isn’t a difficult bit of IT to implement, and points.com must take a decent percentage.

          • BJ says:

            Yes, they must be. I thought it might be the other way round and points.com paid the airlines and made their money from ads. Just went directly to their homepage for the first time in years, and found it has no ads.

        • Lady London says:

          Guessing it works for the airlines because points.com is an external party. Remember issuing points and selling them for money is basically a cash printing machine. So the airlines can afford to share a deep % of the money taken. Almost all of the incoming cash from points.com will flow straight to the bottom line. This is very cash positive as compared to crediting miles for flights. But the same low valuation of the liability for miles issued will barely touch the balance sheet in both cases.

          To cap it all it would not surprise me if points.com would be owned by entities that are effectively owned by the same interests that own the airlines.

          • Rob says:

            No, points.com is a quoted Canadian business.

            I was told, and I have no reason to believe this in untrue, that someone involved in the US frequent flyer scene took shares in points.com when it lanuched in lieu of payment in return for plugging it. Those shares were worth $60m when it floated.

            If I’d taken 0.1% of Curve when we started working together instead of cash (they had about 6 staff at that time) I could have cashed it out for $250k in the last funding round …

    • Travel Strong says:

      Just for info, when the Miles Booster promotions are running, the transactions charge as a virgin purchase (not points.com) gaining extra miles when using a virgin credit card … and booster promotions are usually around half the cost compared to buying miles in this offer.

  • Eli says:

    For anyone that took a virgin flight or has one booked, the booster option works out better value for money that buying points, (even with the current 50% promotion and even without the booster offer)
    Just saying

    Can’t wait for tomorrow, but highly doubt it’ll all work properly online. I did notice last week already that (on desktop) you can select airports used by KLM & AF on the virgin website, with no availability though.