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WORLD FIRST: Earn tier points towards status on Virgin Atlantic redemption flights

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Virgin Atlantic will become the first airline in the world, I think, to let you earn tier points when you book a redemption flight on the airline using your air miles.

This will allow you to earn elite status in Virgin Flying Club without necessarily ever purchasing a cash ticket! This is possible if you earn all your miles from credit cards or other non-flying partners.

There are a number of improvements – genuine improvements – to Virgin Flying Club announced today,, so I have split them into three articles:

Full details of the changes can be found on the Virgin Atlantic website here.

Virgin Atlantic to offer tier points on redemption flights

This is the standout change in my mind, although the credit card changes will probably have a greater impact on more people.

From 1st September, Virgin Atlantic will offer tier points when you take a flight booked with Virgin Flying Club miles.

This is a genuine shake up for the industry. Virgin says that it wants to ‘ensure members are rewarded every single time they choose to fly with Virgin’.

Virgin Atlantic to offer tier points on redemption miles flights

This is how it will work:

You will only earn tier points when you redeem on Virgin Atlantic flights. It does NOT apply for redemption flights on partner airlines, even when those flights are codeshares with Delta, Air France or KLM.

You will NOT earn tier points if you redeem miles from other programmes for Virgin Atlantic flights. You cannot book a Virgin ticket using Flying Blue or Delta SkyMiles and earn tier points.

The tier points you earn are based on the lowest amount offered for that ticket class. For example, if you book a cash ticket in Economy on Virgin Atlantic, you would earn between 25 and 50 tier points each way. On a redemption, you earn 25 tier points each way.

You will not earn redeemable miles when you fly on a reward ticket. You only earn tier points.

How many tier points will I earn?

You can learn about tier points on this page of the Virgin Atlantic website.

On redemption flights, you will earn the following:

  • Economy: 25 tier points each way
  • Premium: 50 tier points each way
  • Upper Class: 100 tier points each way
Virgin Atlantic to offer tier points on air miles free flights

How many tier points do I need for Virgin Atlantic status?

There are two elite tiers in the Virgin Atlantic programme:

Silver requires 400 tier points in a rolling 12 month period. The key benefits are free seat selection in Economy Light, use of premium check-in and 30% bonus miles on cash flights. You do NOT get lounge access.

Gold requires 1,000 tier points in a rolling 12 month period. The key benefits are access to Clubhouses and the Heathrow Revivals lounge, use of Upper Class check-in, additional luggage allowance and 60% bonus miles on cash flights.

You can see full details of Silver status on the Virgin Atlantic website here.

You can see full details of Gold status here.

Is this a good deal?

Yes. You can’t argue that this is an excellent opportunity to earn Virgin Atlantic status.

Realistically, I doubt many people would redeem enough miles on Virgin Atlantic to be able to progress beyond Silver status if they had no cash flights as well.

Of course, once you have earned some tier points using ‘non flying’ miles, you may well be tempted to buy some cash tickets to push you over the next status tier.

For people who already fly Virgin Atlantic for cash and manage 400 to 600 tier points per year, Gold status could now be within reach. It would only take a couple of Upper Class redemptions within a 12 month period.

Why is Virgin Atlantic doing this? Perhaps they are nice people. Perhaps they want to encourage redemptions on Virgin Atlantic, rather than via partner airlines or into wine or Hilton or IHG hotel points. Whatever the reason, it will be interesting to watch how it works – and whether British Airways follows suit.

You can find out more on the Virgin Atlantic website here.

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

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

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ card is doubled to 30,000 Virgin Points. Apply here.

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 points bonus (to 13th June) 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.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points (worth 60,000 Virgin Points) – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! 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 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 (37)

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

  • TGLoyalty says:

    I’ve always thought it made no sense for any airline not to give to TP on redemptions. You aren’t rewarded for your loyalty for choosing to use your points with the airline.

    Well done Virgin!

  • Tom1 says:

    If you use one of the credit card vouchers as an upgrade, so pay miles of economy, and voucher to upgrade to premium, will you get the tier points of prem or economy do you think?

    Although really seems to be UC is the only way to get to silver/gold unless flying a lot.

  • FCP says:

    At last an airline to break the mold. I lost BA gold status a number of times, because i missed the renewal due to spending the miles i had earned on reward flights!
    I suggested to them many times that it was crazy i was being penalized for using the rewards they had given me.

  • guesswho2000 says:

    Not quite a World first – QF give Status Credits on redemptions to Points Club/PC Plus members (those who earn 150k/350k QF points on the ground).

    • Rob says:

      Thanks. I knew there would be an exception somewhere!

      • BJ says:

        I am not sure if this remains the case but you could also earn status miles on the cash element of Delta awards but that’s not quite the same thing.

  • insider says:

    Will this not just water down the benefits for people who earn status based on buying normal tickets?

    • Rhys says:

      As Rob says in the article, it’s unlikely you’ll get very far from flying JUST reward sectors.

      • insider says:

        i guess my point is that it will push a heap of people who weren’t otherwise Silver / Gold into that bracket. That means busier lounges, competing for seats / priority boarding (although tbh, i don’t know the tier benefits that well on Virgin)

        • Rob says:

          Compared to what happened when Delta moved to T3 and started using the Clubhouse I doubt it moves the needle.

  • Lady London says:

    Great. More lounges crowded out with fat cat credit card holders who don’t actually do the BIS flying and need the rest in lounges on transits etc.
    A very American step cos that’s what seems to be the denizens of US lounges…peoplr who dont fly much using them as drinking clubs.

  • Peter says:

    With Norwegian you already earn reward status via redemptions. Every flight counts towards gaining new rewards. Slightly different programme structure, but nonetheless.

  • Waddle says:

    They need to bring the feature of the American VS card to the UK. The earning rate is very similar, voucher @$25k but it has 25 tier points per $2,500 spend, 50 tier points max per month.

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