Odd things happening with Virgin Atlantic’s US Clubhouses – new management? mergers?
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Something seems to be ‘up’ with the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse network in the United States.
This seems to be linked to Virgin Atlantic’s membership of SkyTeam, which is expected to go live this week, and the contract that Plaza Premium signed a couple of years ago to manage all of the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses outside Heathrow.
Here is a guess at what is going on.
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
What do we know so far?
A rival lounge operator is advertising for Virgin lounge staff
Sodexo, the catering group, is advertising for staff to work at various Virgin Atlantic lounges in the Unted States. This adds credibility to the idea that Plaza Premium has lost its management contract.
Three of the four US Clubhouses are closed or closing
Several Virgin Atlantic lounges are closed or are closing (see the Clubhouse page of the Virgin Atlantic website):
- San Francisco is already ‘temporarily closed’
- Washington DC will be ‘temporarily closed’ from 28th February
- Boston will be ‘temporarily closed’ from 28th February
- Johannesburg will be ‘temporarily closed’ from 28th February
The New York JFK Clubhouse is operating as normal.
Plaza Premium’s website says that it is no longer runnning New York JFK
Whilst the Plaza Premium website is still selling passes for the Virgin Clubhouse at New York JFK (photo above), it states that “This lounge is owned and managed by a third party“.
There are not similar comments against the other US lounges, but these lounges will be closed from Tuesday anyway.
The SkyTeam website shows other closures at Virgin Atlantic airports
If you look at the SkyTeam lounge directory:
- San Francisco – the Delta Sky Club and the Air France lounge are ‘temporarily closed’
- Washington DC – no changes, the Air France lounge is open
- Boston – the Air France lounge is ‘temporarily closed’
Well, what can we conclude?
It seems fairly clear that Sodexo is taking over management from Plaza Premium – potentially when they reopen – but it isn’t clear if we will see lounge mergers amongst Virgin Atlantic and the other SkyTeam airlines at Washington DC, Boston and San Francisco.
The Johannesburg Clubhouse should be safe because there is no existing SkyTeam lounge there – SkyTeam airlines seem to use third party lounges.
Let’s see what the week brings, given that Virgin Atlantic should be a SkyTeam member by Friday.
Big hat-tip to V-Flyer forum members who dug out much of information above – I have simply pulled it all together.
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.)