Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Virgin Atlantic follows British Airways in increasing reward surcharges – and how to beat them

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Yesterday we ran an article on the additional £100 added to British Airways surcharges on Avios redemptions in Business Class.

Virgin Atlantic has also increased its surcharges. Oddly, Virgin Atlantic is charging the ‘unadjusted’ surcharges quoted by the British Airways website, which are incorrect and which drop sharply once you actually try to pay.

Here’s what I mean.

Virgin Atlantic is now charging a ludicrous £988 return on an Upper Class redemption from Heathrow to New York JFK. £700 of this is Virgin’s ‘carrier surcharge’.

Virgin Atlantic carrier surcharges

British Airways pretends to be charging the same amount:

British Airways carrier surcharges

…. but when you click through to pay it adjusts to the actual figure of ‘only’ £842:

For those not keen to pay such amounts, let me point you towards using Avios for Madrid to New York in Iberia’s Business Class.

You will pay just 68,000 Avios return on off-peak dates plus just £205 of taxes and charges:

If you’ve never been to Helsinki, it may be a good time to check out Finnair’s fantastic new terminal and lounges, as well as taking a look at the city.

You’ll pay just £318 to use your Avios for a Business Class trip to New York on Finnair:

Finnair carrier surcharges

In theory you can also use Avios for low cost New York flights in business class on Aer Lingus, from Manchester, Dublin or Shannon. Availability in business class appears to be zero, however.

Moving away from Avios, you could use Emirates Skywards miles (potentially from American Express Membership Rewards) to fly direct from London to New York on JetBlue in their funky ‘Mint’ business class seat:

Jetblue carrier surcharges

There is some good news from Virgin Atlantic

On the positive side, I had a quiet word with Virgin’s CEO Shai Weiss about Upper Class reward availability – or more exactly, the lack of it on routes except New York – on Tuesday when we were both at the same event.

Shai implied that he is aware of the issue and that changes were coming. Reading between the lines, Virgin Atlantic may be planning to follow British Airways and guarantee a fixed number of reward seats per flight. Let’s see what happens.

In other positive Virgin Atlantic news, the new $4.1 billion Airbus A330-900neo fleet is on track for delivery, starting later this year. We even have tentative dates for the launch party in the Summer. Watch this space …..

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (May 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, one has a bonus of 30,000 points until 6th June 2022):

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 points bonus (SPECIAL OFFER) and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Rewards credit card

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 Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two 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 has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 60,000 Virgin Points, if you apply by 1st June 2022.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER) and an unbeatable set of 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.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits 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 (63)

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

  • lumma says:

    It seems a bit silly for VS to copy BA completely on this and not try to differentiate themselves, especially when you don’t have the benefit of cheap short haul options with VS points (KLM or Air France will require a change of plane and the taxes can be high), far fewer airline partners or cashing out to Nectar.

    ANA is a good option but is a bit limited.

    • Alan says:

      Agree re high taxes but flying KLM and changing in Schiphol is no worse than flying BA and changing in LHR (arguably nicer!) if you don’t live in London.

  • Colin MacKinnon says:

    Never happier that I converted my Virgin points to Hilton!

    (and the route I would have used them on – ANA first to Japan – now has its own cancellation problems, with seemingly no help from Virgin)

  • Peter says:

    What is the point in paying £750 to fly from Madrid for a 6 hour flight? Unless you want to visit Madrid, I would just fly direct in economy for £300-£400.

  • Zain says:

    Thought this was an article on how to beat VS increases while still using VS miles. A bit pointless to talk about IB or AY in an article about VS.

    • Peter K says:


    • marcw says:

      Read the title again.

      • Zain says:

        Read it again at your request and it still doesn’t make any sense – the title implies how to beat ‘VS reward surcharges’ so my point stands, not sure what your comment accomplished at all. All this talk about AY and IB should’ve been posted under the BA post.

  • Max says:

    Is the only value using avios now with last-minute RFS short-haul trips then?

    • Rob says:

      Have you looked up cash prices recently? You may decide the value is still there.

      Looking at £3800 each for cash Business for a New York trip I have lined up for July.

  • safetycard says:

    Any sense of when Virgin might be implementing this? Back in Jan and Feb they released lots of availability for the coming month on most flights in all classes, but now looking ahead at a few flights I’ve got over the next 6 months there is not a single UC available.

  • Lawrence says:

    ‘On the positive side, I had a quiet word with Virgin’s CEO Shai Weiss about Upper Class reward availability – or more exactly, the lack of it on routes except New York – …
    Shai implied that he is aware of the issue and that changes were coming.’

    Of course he’s aware of their deliberate policy of sabotaging points holders and he could change it immediately if he really wanted to.
    Shai says, ‘blah, blah blah’!

  • Jmac says:

    Any way to beat this and use a Virgin 241 voucher?

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