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Virgin Atlantic confirms Clubhouse lounge re-opening dates and change of management

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Following our earlier article today about potential changes to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge network in the United States and South Africa, we now have full details from the airline.

This includes confirmation of the change of management and dates for the reopening of the US and Johannesburg lounges.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse JFK entrance

As a reminder, when Virgin Atlantic handed over the running of its Clubhouses to Plaza Premium, joining SkyTeam wasn’t on the table. The lounges in the United States were empty for much of the day when no Virgin Atlantic flights were operating. By letting Plaza Premium manage the spaces, they could be monetised as third party lounges during the quiet hours.

However, once Virgin Atlantic decided to join SkyTeam, the game changed in two ways:

  • anyone flying with any SkyTeam airline would be able to enter a Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, which meant that there would no longer be any ‘quiet hours’ for Plaza Premium to monetise
  • there are some airports with multiple lounges run by SkyTeam airlines, and there could be the potential to rationalise these

Sodexo confirmed as new manager of the international Clubhouses

Virgin Atlantic told us this morning:

“We worked in partnership with Plaza Premium Group (PPG) from August 2021 to deliver our signature Clubhouse experience for customers outside the UK, as travel restrictions eased and our international lounges reopened. With passenger demand returning strongly and our network strengthened, we’re pleased to appoint Sodexo Live! for the day-to-day running and management of our Clubhouses in New York-JFK, Boston, San Francisco, Washington and Johannesburg.

We thank PPG and their teams for their dedication and the hospitality shown to our customers, and look forward to delighting many more customers in our renowned and much-loved Clubhouses, with distinctive Virgin Atlantic flair. In order to support the necessary changes behind the scenes, our Boston, San Francisco, Washington and Johannesburg Clubhouses will be subject to short temporary closures and we’re grateful for our customers’ patience during this time. Alternative lounge access will be provided for eligible customers so they can continue to rest and recharge before their journeys.”

Virgin Atlantic New York Clubhouse lounge

When are the lounges re-opening and what is the alternative?

Washington DC

The Clubhouse will close from 1st – 3rd March. Customers can use the Turkish Airlines Lounge during the closure.

Johannesburg

The Clubhouse will close from 1st – 13th March. Customers can use the SLOW lounge during the closure.

San Francisco

The Clubhouse will close from 1st – 25th March. Customers can use the China Airlines Lounge during the closure.

Boston

The Clubhouse will close from 1st March – 14th April. Customers can use the Delta Sky Club Express during the closure.

The New York JFK Clubhouse is operating as normal.

As you can see, all of the Clubhouses will re-open and there is no immediate plan to migrate to alternative SkyTeam-operated lounges instead.


How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

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

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus 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.

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable 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.

Until 30th March 2023, the sign up bonus on American Express Business Platinum is increased to 120,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. The bonus on American Express Business Gold is increased to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. T&C apply, see the application forms for details.

American Express Business Platinum

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American Express Business Gold

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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 (18)

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

  • gumshoe says:

    Sodexo already runs the LHR Clubhouse I believe?

    So hopefully not bad news.

    • AL says:

      Does it? There’s another third party in there usually, known more for their ability to run a good event than a lounge.

      • AL says:

        They’re certainly also supplemented by VS staff

      • Lady London says:

        ‘annualised hours contract’ part tim3

        requiring flexible hours changing from day to day from early morning to late evening…

        So although it’s described as part time, you’d not be able to supplement with other employment.

        On the other hand, British Airways cabin crew would need to be getting very high extras to equal this. As on pure base salary, Virgin ground based catering staff based at Heathrow are getting nearly 50% more than British Airways cabin crew.

  • Chris says:

    The same Sodexo that ruined cathay’s lounges I assume? Lets hope history doesn’t repeat itself

    • Lady London says:

      I’ve come across Sodexo more in industrial lower-end catering but they probably share with Do & Co the fact that the quality they provide is limited by the budget given by the client.

      • Bagoly says:

        Which suggests that to maintain their reputation, such companies would do well to have minimum budgets below which they will not work.

  • Littlefish says:

    Thanks for the two stories today and the quick update. Really good this has at least been clarified (and I can get back to thinking of booking Virgin Atlantic again!). I really quite liked the JNB clubhouse, last year, and am hoping it won’t be ruined. Nothing really needs much updating / upgrading.
    On the other side of the coin; I miss not having an LAX Clubhouse and a shame this isn’t at least a tease for coming back given Delta’s big new space between T2&T3 has, arguably, left the ex-Clubhouse available should flights revert to T2 at some point.
    I really worry for the JFK Clubhouse, I’m avoiding any connections through JFK until I’m confident the JFK Clubhouse gets less busy and more to pre-pandemic quality. I’m not confident! Such a shame as the AA/BA debacle with their T8 lounges seemed to have provided an open goal … seems not going to be taken.

    • AL says:

      I really like the *A lounge they put you up in, instead. If they move VS away from TBIT to T3, then the Sky Club makes perfect sense to use, but it wouldn’t have any Virgin flair about it.

      • Alan says:

        Agree *A lounge at LAX is excellent – massive space, lots of different areas including ah outdoor terrace with firepits. Far better than the BOS Clubhouse!

  • The Original David says:

    Does Sodexo “Live!” rhyme with give or hive? Sounds like the branding for either a hospital or a concert, strange choice for marketing a catering business…

  • BuildBackBetter says:

    Whats going on with Plaza Premium Group?
    Closed all Heathrow arrivals lounges and neither reopened nor sub-leased to another operator or retail business.
    Closed all lounges they operated in India, with new competitors picking up those spaces.
    Now lost contracts for these Virgin lounges.

    • Rob says:

      They are currently looking at potential alternative concepts for the arrivals lounges at Heathrow. T4 was arguably too big and in the wrong place, but the T2 one always looked like a goldmine – and of course the investment was a sunk cost now.

  • BJ says:

    OT; Virgin Red app currently offering refer a friend, up to 10 friends at 2000 points per friend through end of March. Friend gets the points too. A year to trigger the bonus with qualifying earning activity. Points purchases and transfers are not qualifying activities.

  • Jonathan says:

    Oh.. I’m currently in Johannesburg so will miss out on the clubhouse on the way back :/

  • Luke says:

    Sodexo. Now that’s a word to chill the bones

    • John says:

      If Sodexo is paid enough they can do well.

      • Rob says:

        Indeed – the idea that Sodexo is incapable of producing above average diner food if given a sufficient budget is clearly nonsense. The Cathay First private dining restaurant may, admittedly, be a step too far for them (which is unfortunate as they now run it) but this is an outstation Clubhouse we’re talking about.

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