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Fantastic Cape Town Upper Class reward availability for Winter (inc Christmas) with Virgin Atlantic

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Unlike British Airways, Virgin Atlantic does not guarantee to make a minimum number of seats available for redemption on each flight.

This means that reward seat availability can be patchy or even non existent. Virgin Atlantic has come under a lot of pressure recently for its failure to release Upper Class reward seats. Shai Weiss, the CEO, told me last month that changes were coming, but we’ve not seen anything yet.

However, good availability to Cape Town has appeared if you fancy a trip to South Africa this winter.

Virgin Atlantic cape town reward flights

Here are some screenshots from SeatSpy, which is our preferred route for searching reward availability.

Importantly, I was searching for FOUR Upper Class seats. If you want to go as a couple or with just one child, you’ll find even more options.

Note that we published this article at 10am on Friday so if you are reading this via email on Saturday morning, a lot of the availability may have gone.

London to Cape Town for FOUR people in Upper Class:

The left table is for outbound, the right is for return.

Flights are on the Boeing 787, so you are getting the older Upper Class seat we last reviewed in 2016.

Cape Town VS reward 4 seats

There is slightly more availability when you search for TWO people:

Cape Town VS reward 2 seats

This still isn’t cheap, of course. You are looking (unless you have a Virgin Atlantic credit card 2-4-1 or upgrade voucher) at 115,000 Virgin Points per person plus a silly ~ £867 of taxes and charges.

British Airways does not have any dates where you can get 4 x Club World seats out and back during the Christmas school holidays, unsurprisingly.

To give you an example of how tight South African availability usually is, Virgin Atlantic does not have a single Upper Class reward seat to Johannesburg – not a single one – between 8th June 2022 and the end of the current booking period in May 2023.


How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

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

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus 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 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.

SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on Amex Gold is increased from 20,000 Membership Rewards points to 30,000 Membership Rewards points until 19th July 2022. This card is free for the first year.

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 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.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points 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 (40)

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

  • Joe says:

    The taxes and fees just make this incredibly unattractive. If you value a point at a penny, you’re basically paying near 2k for each ticket

    • qrfan says:

      But you can’t get to Cape town even exEU indirect for less than £2k, so that’s still good value? Direct flights are well over £3k. Even the route via the Middle East to Joburg (which is a considerably worse option) was £2k on the article the other day?

      • Harry T says:

        I’m flying to and from Cape Town in November for £1250 per person NCL-LHR-CPT-LHR-NCL with two weeks of car hire (BA holiday). That’s in business class with BA.

        • SamG says:

          That is a very good deal! Did you book last year? Can’t imagine you can get anything like that now (car hire alone could be 1200 quid based on some prices I’ve seen for this summer in Europe….)

          • Harry T says:

            Booked for Jan 2021 originally (747 sale) and has made a few journeys forward in time due to cancellations! Sadly the car hire component has crept up over time. Still a good deal. I think we will see better fares again when the initial rebound fades.

        • qrfan says:

          That’s not booking now for xmas though is it. I’ve done similar deals in the past from AMS, but they aren’t comparable with this availability.

      • SamG says:

        Agree. South Africa is a destination where points are good value vs cash prices for biz. even Ex-EU or indirect is often stubbonly expensive and it’s a long flight. It’s a much better option than redeeming for say USA where often cash deals can be found

        Of course if you wouldn’t be paying those prices for a flight anyway then it’s not going to look attractive

      • Joe says:

        You definitely can get to Cape Town exEU and indirect for less than 2k. Just had a look for October. Can do ex-Paris on BA for 1.7k in biz or 870 in WTP (can then upgrade using points + earn Avios/TP!)

        • optomdad says:

          Please don’t compare apples with pears. Ex-EU on a non refundable ticket is not the same as ex-UK on a fully refundable points ticket less £30 charges. What is the cost of getting to Paris? What is the cost of getting back from Paris? What is the cost of needing to change the ticket? What is the cost of missing the connection?

          • Joe says:

            I was specifically responding to the reply which stated you can’t get an indirect exEU less than 2k on this route… I agree these are not the same thing.

            Everyone will want to put their own wait on the time/cost/complexity benefit of doing an exEU. I tend to prefer direct these days, too. Although I really don’t think there’s much if any risk involved if done competently.

    • modestpointscollector says:

      If you want to pay cash at Xmas you’re looking at 10K for a return for 2 in Upper – If that’s your other option that’s a great use of points?

      • Joe says:

        Fair. If you must fly like December 21, 22, 23 and come back Jan 2 or something very specific then it’s probably a reasonable deal.

  • Jim Utd says:

    Booked this morning using a credit card voucher for February. Surcharges are now £600 per person plus tax! Worth the seat spy subscription though. Cash fares were £3-4k

  • Mark says:

    Many years ago I did CPT (or was it JNB?) to LHR in BA F on a daytime flight. Never been so bored/eager to get off a plane in my life after 11 hours. There’s a reason the SA flights are best overnight!

    • Mike says:

      I think after 11 hours in F you would have to pour me off the flight !

  • Josh says:

    Seems SeatSpy isn’t sending out updates/alerts…….unfortunately only just seen this article and the dates I was after are no longer available (I had an alert set up but nothing came thru from SeatSpy – pretty disappointing as they are still showing the seats available now on SS, but they are not there on the virgin app)

    • Mark says:

      I have also had some very odd issue with SeatSpy, including showing phantom availability on the Where Can I Go function.

  • Zoe says:

    Thanks HFP I’d been looking for somewhere to use my upgrade voucher before April 2023. Just got my partner and I upper class outbound seats and premium inbound seats for £714.06 taxes and 95000 points 27/12-05/01. It’ll be my first time flying business and I’m so excited!!

  • cinereus says:

    Completely pointless with that level of fees.

    • Rob says:

      Yes, definitely a bad deal vs £5,451 for a cash fare in Upper over Christmas ….

  • James says:

    I’m guessing those using vouchers have no choice but to phone virgin. How long are the wait times these days?

  • Doc says:

    I don’t know if anyone else is having the same trouble as I am with the old BA/Amex vouchers- it is pretty much impossible to find availability from November onwards. We have 8 vouchers to use! We have one new one and it’s a bit easier. It makes me think they just haven’t opened up inventory from around September onwards. Any thoughts….?

    • JDB says:

      CPT is a very popular route so you are leaving it quite late for November, but I just booked with a voucher for my wife & son for April next year, well inside T-355 and when I looked and posted yesterday, there was surprisingly plenty of availability in Feb-May next year in both directions. At some point they may reintroduce the second flight on some days which may give you an opportunity if you set up an alert.

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