Virgin Atlantic delays Sao Paulo flights, launches a change waiver and announces cost cutting measures

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Virgin Atlantic made a number of coronavirus-related announcements yesterday:

Sao Paulo flight launch delayed until October

Virgin Atlantic was supposed to be launching its first route to South America later this month. We were scheduled to be on the inaugural flight on the 29th March with Sir Richard Branson.

Virgin Atlantic has decided to delay the route due to ongoing coronavirus concerns. The flight has been pulled entirely until 5th October, the amended launch date.

This is an interesting decision, not least because Brazil is not particularly affected by the outbreak so far. Whilst British Airways has been dumping capacity on flights to North America and Africa, Virgin Atlantic appears to be taking a different tack and is attempting to reduce its cost base in the short term.  Since most new routes are loss making in their first year, Virgin clearly decided it did not want to shoulder that burden during an already difficult time.

Passengers affected by the delayed introduction of the route can choose between being rebooked on another airline, a refund or a rebooking from October.

Virgin Atlantic Tel Aviv Richard Branson

Virgin Atlantic launches a change waiver for new bookings

Virgin Atlantic has, unsurprisingly, copied British Airways and introduced a change waiver.

Ticket booked from yesterday (4th March) until the end of March for travel until the end of September, on any Virgin Atlantic route, can have their date changed for free.

This is, unfortunately, as pointless as the British Airways waiver:

you are on the hook for any increase in fare, and

you cannot get a refund, which means that the waiver has no benefit if you are travelling for a specific purpose

There is also no support for anyone who made a booking prior to 4th March.

Further cost cutting measures

Virgin Atlantic is making additional cost-cutting measures in order to weather out the storm. Unlike British Airways / IAG, Virgin Atlantic has thinner margins and will be more severely affected by travel restrictions.

This is especially true given that, proportionally, the revenue from the now-cancelled Shanghai and part-cancelled Hong Kong routes is a much larger piece of the pie than it is for British Airways, which has a much larger network.

CEO Shai Weiss will be taking a symbolic 20% pay cut from April until July with the remaining executive leadership team agreeing to 15%.

In addition, there will be a company wide recruitment freeze and a restriction on all non-essential staff travel and training.

There is also a proposed deferral of annual pay increases for employees, from March until August, as well as the opportunity for ground-based staff to take one to two weeks of unpaid leave before 31st July.

Virgin Atlantic is well and truly battening down the hatches.

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. OT: Can someone confirm if I upgrade Blue BA card before £10k spend and the go over it whilst on the Premium card that I will get the 241 voucher? Thanks!

    • yes

    • Yes.

    • Moreover, even if you hit 10K spend and then upgrade to black card (still within your membership year) – you will get your voucher! This is what happened to me last year

      • AndyW says:

        Reports are that sometimes you end up with a one year expiry though, so not advisable. Upgrade before you hit the 10k

        • Agreed.

        • Simon says:

          I get this every year and have to call Amex to get them to contact BA and change the expiration from one year to two.

          I guess the reason is that I have both the black Premium Plus card and the, now defunct, silver Premium card?

  2. JamesR says:

    Just got off the phone to Virgin. I asked about changing carrier regarding the Sao Paulo route and they said they are working on options for it at the moment so to call back in a couple days. I hope the sort it with BA because it’s only half an hours difference in schedule. Not that I’m particularly interested in flying club world. But at least it would be direct.

  3. Nick_C says:

    OT. Just catching up on yesterday’s PMQ’s. Tory backbencher Paul Maynard raised the issue of slot filling and asked BJ to seek a derogation from international rules while Covid19 continues. BJ said no one has raised this with him until now, but he will look at it.

    Odd that Caroline Lucas didn’t go with this, or a key opposition Member. Think it rather shows how out of touch MPs are with green issues.

    I think someone posted on here a few days ago, one thing that would make a significant difference to airline emissions would be to end stacking of flights waiting to land at Heathrow.

    Privatising LHR and LGW was a strategic mistake. The Government should be able to direct more traffic to LGW, but would be interfering in private companies profitability if it tried to do so.

    • luckyjim says:

      You’re in the wrong forum Nick. This forum is for people who enjoy flying long haul in extreme comfort several times a year. I think Extinction Rebellion have their own site.

      I do try to be be green, though. I never accept plastic cutlery when I’m flying. Only sterling silver.

      • Nick_C says:

        I’m one of them Jim. But I think we should try to make flying greener. We are of course with better fuel economy. But circling Greenwich for 20 minutes while waiting for a landing slot, or sitting on the taxiway for half an hour with the engines running makes no sense environmentally.

        LGW has a great location, good transport links, and could cheaply provide the extra runaway we need for London. The Government should be able to say LHR is exceeding capacity and direct traffic to LGW. Selling off those assets has made that difficult.

        • Riccatti says:

          That makes no sense.

          LGW has no real 15 min link to Central London and its only great location to SE travellers, not if coming from Midlands or West. LGW has no bus station that serves all directions, and travelwise is a hell hole. Arrival during a day time is fine, but the only way out is overcrowded train. It is an old airport with old infrastructure and inconvenient layouts throughout. In 20 years the buildings will become to crumble and the entire place will have to be re-planned and re-built from scratch.

          Building a runway at Gatwick doesn’t make it any greener. Landing often depends on weather/wind, and no modern plane is sitting an hour on runway with full thrust engines.

          • Nick_C says:

            Charing Cross to Gatwick, 45 to 50 minutes by rail. Charing Cross to Heathrow, 47 minutes to an hour. Heathrow is obviously good if you live in Paddington or West London.

            I’m 30 miles north of London. My local station to Gatwick is 1hr 43m, direct train (1hr 35 if I change). Terminal 5 is 1hr 59m, changing once, or 1 hr 46 if I change twice and use Heathrow Express.

            Gatwick has great connections, not just for people South of London (of which of course there are a great many). What it’s lacking now is the fantastic route network that it used to have before airlines migrated to Heathrow.

          • Mr(s) Entitled says:

            £1bn investment, 2 runways, good airport access by road, rail, and tram and only xx from London on HS2. Let’s hear it for Manchester.

      • You’d be surprised how many frequent fliers agree with him – and not you!

  4. OT but no bits. Going to Paris at New Year courtesy of IC Ambassador and Air France have a decent business class offer from MAN which would give us lounge access and checked luggage for all the French goodies I like to bring back. However on their website it says they use the 1903 lounge at MAN – is this not adults only? My son will be 15 then and is tall for his age but presumably they check ages on entry?

  5. BA oneworld partner S7 just went a mile further and introduced fully refundable* fares for bookings between March 5 and April 10. This seems to be becoming a new industry trend

    * subject to £12 admin charge

  6. OT: Just suffered the ignominy of a £1000 credit limit on my first application for a creation IHG card. Any ideas on how best to make use of that? My thinking is just bank the 20k bonus and spend on it regularly to prime them for a premium card application (hopefully with increased bonus) at a later date. Doesn’t seem worth the hassle or a good idea to repeatedly settling the balance to get more value out of it, or would it be, how would Creation see that?

    • Genghis says:

      I wouldn’t even bother spending on the white to be honest. I’ve now got the bonus and the card is in the drawer ready to be cancelled in 6 months’ time (to keep to the clawback terms).

      I’d apply for the black in a few months’ time.

      • Thanks Genghis, glad I posted now as I didn’t even know about the 6 month issue. I have switched back to E.on so hopefully they will prove to be a real nuisance with the smart meters 🙂

        • Genghis says:

          Good luck. A relatively “easy” £100.

          • rams1981 says:

            interesting they keep messaging me. What’s the easiest way to get the £100? Do i need to call or email?

          • Genghis says:

            Call them and make a formal complaint. They’ll offer £30 or so at first. I then got their final response and then went to the Ombudsman; we then settled before Ombudsman made decision.

    • Genghis says:

      I pay off Creation mid month and cycle the credit limit no problem. I’ve big bills to pay.

  7. Shoestring says:

    @BJ – I just got 2x £100 Amazon giftcards confirmed (MSM direct, life ins for wife & self) – letter delivery of vouchers within 28 days

    my son’s one should turn up in a few weeks as I did it later

    • Shoestring says:

      so with 1 more to come that’s going to be 6x £2.50 for myself, less for my wife, surprisingly slightly more for my son

      the idea is to use Amazon credit for cheap Melia points on Black Friday

    • Thanks, good stuff, I’ll revisit MSM then 🙂

  8. Leigh says:

    OT: I applied for an IHG premium card last year and noted a credit search by CREATION FINANCIAL SERVICES LTD on my credit file; which is normal. However, the same search is also shown on my husband’s credit file under his name! I didn’t provide his name in the application (he is not an additional card holder), so where did they get the info and what triggered the search? I recently applied for a free card and noted that same thing happened again. Worse this time, in that there are two searches on his credit file (just one on mine). Anyone has any ideas why this has happened? Should we call Creation to complain, or dispute with the credit report agent?

    • Probably sonething to do with linked addresses which appears as a separate section on your credit report IIRC.

    • stevenhp1987 says:

      Is it an associate search?

      Any good financial company will check everyone who’s linked to your on your credit report in addition to yourself. If you were financially sound, but your other half was snowed under a mountain of debts, it would alarm them and most likely cause a rejection.

      The search won’t affect them as it’ll be a soft search.

      • Leigh says:

        Many thanks for both replies.
        Could be an associate search, which is new to me. Have applied for many cards in the past years 🙂 but never noted any associate searches.

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