Virgin Atlantic has announced a flurry of improvements to Virgin Flying Club this morning.
The good news is that they are all genuine improvements. None of them are revolutionary, and not all of them with benefit everyone, but all members should come out of it better off in some way.
You could now earn Gold status with as few as two Upper Class return flights if the tickets were flexible.
Let’s run through the changes in detail.
It’s now easier to earn status in Virgin Flying Club
From April, you will find it easier to earn Silver or Gold status in Virgin Flying Club.
The new thresholds will be, from April 2022:
- Silver status will require just 300 tier points in a rolling 12 month period, down from 400
- Gold status will require just 800 tier points in a rolling 12 month period, down from 1,000
I was originally told that these changes were permanent. However, Virgin Atlantic has now followed up to say that they will only last for 12 months. The normal thresholds will return in April 2023.
The key benefits of Silver 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.
The key benefits of Gold 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.
How many tier points do you earn per flight?
Remember that Virgin Atlantic awards tier points on redemption flights, as long as you redeem on Virgin Atlantic and not a partner, making status even easier to achieve. For clarity, this only applies if you redeem Virgin Points – you don’t get tier points if you use, say, Delta SkyMiles to book a Virgin Atlantic reward flight.
You can learn about tier points on this page of the Virgin Atlantic website.
On cash bookings, you earn, depending on the ticket type booked:
- Economy: 25 – 50 tier points each way
- Premium: 50 – 100 tier points each way
- Upper Class: 100 – 200 tier points each way
On redemption flights, you earn:
- Economy: 25 tier points each way
- Premium: 50 tier points each way
- Upper Class: 100 tier points each way
Silver members can now have a household account
One big disadvantage of Virgin Flying Club versus British Airways Executive Club is the lack of household accounts.
Virgin’s call centre operators have a lot of flexibility to work around this, including taking points from multiple accounts to make one booking, as long as each account holder is travelling. It is fiddly, however, and with no published rules you could never be certain that you would be able to do what you wanted.
Gold members have always been able to have a household account as a perk.
Silver members of Virgin Flying Club will now be allowed to open a household account too with up to nine members.
Frankly, whilst a step in the right direction, Virgin Atlantic should open this up to everyone. If nothing else, it would encourage more credit card sales as a couple could have a card each in the knowledge that their miles were being pooled.
The Clubhouse passes for Silver members are finally on the way
Every Silver member of Virgin Flying Club will receive a one-off Clubhouse voucher for themselves and a guest.
This was promised as a perk to people who did the Virgin Atlantic status match from British Airways Executive Club earlier in the year, but it has taken longer than expected to put into place. It was always intended that vouchers would be given to all Silver members and not just those who matched from BA.
You will earn tier points when you book with Virgin Atlantic Holidays
This is a smart move, integrating the holiday business with the airline and rewarding people who spend large sums on package holidays.
For bookings made from 9th November, you will earn 20 tier points for every £500 you spend with Virgin Atlantic Holidays.
This is on top of the tier points you will earn from your Virgin Atlantic flight.
There is a cap of 400 tier points per booking.
The tier points go to the lead booker based on the total package value. If both you and your partner are Flying Club members you will need to think about whose name is listed first and so receives the tier points.
You will earn more Virgin Points when you book with Virgin Atlantic Holidays
Virgin Atlantic is increasing the number of Virgin Points you earn when you book with Virgin Atlantic Holidays.
The new earning rates, which I assume are effective immediately, are:
- Red (base) member: 2 points per £1 spent
- Silver member: 3 points per £1 spent
- Gold member: 4 points per £1 spent
Earn 20,000 bonus Virgin Points
Finally, Virgin Atlantic is offering a special bonus to all Flying Club members.
If you take two return flights in either Premium or Upper Class between 9th November and 31st March 2022, you will receive 20,000 bonus Virgin Points.
Here are the relevant parts of the small print with some comments:
- “Applicable for bookings made through virginatlantic.com, virginholidays.co.uk or via our contact centre” (not sure about this, I doubt they are blocking bookings made by corporate travel agents)
- “Qualifying flights can be any combination of Upper or Premium flights. Qualifying booking classes are: Upper (J, C, D, I, Z) and Premium (W, S, H, K). Multiple sectors flown on a single ticket do not qualify for the bonus, eg TLV-LHR-JFK, JFK-LHR-TLV will count as one round trip.” (quite impressed Virgin thought of this loophole!)
- “All Virgin Atlantic routes are eligible. Flights must be both operated by Virgin Atlantic and marketed by Virgin Atlantic (flight number starts with VS) to be applicable for the bonus. Codeshare flights are excluded from this offer.” (good to have this clarification because the press release I received tied it in to the US reopening, but it actually applies to all routes)
As you can see, there is a lot happening here, but all of it is positive.
My only grumble is that I wish household accounts were open to all members. For a start, it isn’t clear what happens to a houshold account if a Silver is demoted to Red.
As with the vouchers that come with the Virgin Atlantic credit cards, the airline is willing to sacrifice simplicity at the altar of offering more perks to elites, and this is not a good thing.
All in all though, Virgin Flying Club just got more attractive, especially as Gold status can now be obtained with as few as TWO fully flexible Upper Class return flights.
How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (December 2022)
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):
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.
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.
Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into 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.)