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Do you know that you earn status tier points on Virgin Atlantic redemption flights?

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Back in September 2020 – so it was easy to miss at the heart of the pandemic – Virgin Atlantic become the first airline in the world to give you tier points when you booked a redemption flight using your air miles.

This allows you to earn elite status in Virgin Flying Club without necessarily ever purchasing a cash ticket! This could, in theory, be possible if you earned all your Virgin Points from credit cards or other non-flying partners.

Virgin Atlantic to offer tier points on redemption miles flights

This was a genuine shake up for the industry. Virgin Atlantic said at the time that it wanted to ‘ensure members are rewarded every single time they choose to fly with Virgin’. I’m a little surprised that British Airways has not yet followed.

How do you earn tier points on Virgin Atlantic flight redemptions?

This is how it works:

  • You only earn tier points when you redeem on Virgin Atlantic flights. It does NOT apply for redemption flights on partner airlines, even when those flights are codeshares with Delta, Air France or KLM.
  • You do NOT earn tier points if you redeem miles from other programmes for Virgin Atlantic flights. You cannot book a Virgin Atlantic ticket using Flying Blue or Delta SkyMiles and earn tier points. Only tickets booked with Virgin Points count.
  • The tier points you earn are based on the lowest amount offered for that ticket class. For example, if you book a cash ticket in Economy on Virgin Atlantic, you would earn between 25 and 50 tier points each way. On a redemption, you earn 25 tier points each way.
  • You do not earn redeemable Virgin Points when you fly on a reward ticket. You only earn tier points.

How many tier points will I earn?

You can learn about tier points on this page of the Virgin Atlantic website.

On redemption flights, you will earn the following:

  • Economy: 25 tier points each way
  • Premium: 50 tier points each way
  • Upper Class: 100 tier points each way
Virgin Atlantic to offer tier points on air miles free flights

How many tier points do I need for Virgin Atlantic status?

There are two elite tiers in the Virgin Atlantic programme:

Silver status

Silver requires 400 tier points in a rolling 12 month period.

The key benefits 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.

You can see full details of Silver status on the Virgin Atlantic website here.

Gold status

Gold requires 1,000 tier points in a rolling 12 month period.

The key benefits are access to Clubhouses and the Heathrow Revivals lounge, use of Upper Class check-in, use of the Upper Class drive-thru wing in Heathrow Terminal 3, additional luggage allowance and 60% bonus miles on cash flights.

You can see full details of Gold status here.

Note that, unlike British Airways Executive Club, Virgin Atlantic status is initially earned on a rolling 12 month basis. There is no defined ‘year end’. Instead, each time you earn tier points, Virgin looks back at the previous 12 months and if your tier point total takes you above the tier threshold, you are promoted.

Once you earn Silver status, you move to a fixed year and have 12 months to earn enough tier points to renew. If you don’t, you drop back to the base level and back onto the rolling basis.

Virgin Atlantic to offer tier points on redemption miles flights

Is this a good deal?

Yes. You can’t argue that this is an excellent opportunity to earn Virgin Atlantic status.

Realistically, I doubt many people would redeem enough miles on Virgin Atlantic to be able to progress beyond Silver status if they had no cash flights as well.

Of course, once you have earned some tier points using ‘non flying’ miles, you may well be tempted to buy some cash tickets to push you over the next status tier.

For people who already fly Virgin Atlantic for cash and manage 400 to 600 tier points per year, Gold status could now be within reach. It would only take a couple of Upper Class redemptions within a 12 month period.

Why is Virgin Atlantic doing this? Perhaps they are nice people. Perhaps they want to encourage redemptions on Virgin Atlantic, rather than via SkyTeam partner airlines or into wine or Hilton or IHG hotel points.

You can find out more on the Virgin Atlantic website here.

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (June 2024)

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 18,000 Virgin Points and the free card has a bonus of 3,000 Virgin Points):

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

18,000 bonus points and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

3,000 bonus points, no fee and 1 point for every £1 you spend 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 – 30,000 points (TO 16TH JULY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 40,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 40,000 Virgin Points.

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable 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.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit 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 (38)

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

  • Panda Mick says:

    “You can’t argue that this is an excellent opportunity to earn Virgin Atlantic status.”

    Not had coffee yet, but surely you need a double negative in here?

    So, you can’t argue that this ISN’T an excellent op…

    • Panda Mick says:

      Speaking of coffee, if you’ve not tried Rosslyn, just a short walk north of HFP towers up Moorgate, you really should.

      • Luca says:

        My weekly treat, they eat my money.

        • Stu_N says:

          +1 – excellent coffee, it’s my treat when I am in the City. The Queen Victoria Street branch makes it worth walking from Bank to office in w of square mile.

  • dougzz99 says:

    Given Virgin’s fees and charges it’s a cash ticket.

  • Ron says:

    I don’t understand the “earning tier points using ‘non flying miles’” part. Can someone explain that, please?

    • Rob says:

      If you earn all your Virgin Points from ‘non flying’ activity (eg credit card spend) because you never fly Virgin for cash, you will (de facto) have zero tier points. If you then do 2 Upper Class flights booked on Virgin Points you’ll have 400 tier points – and so Silver status – without ever having paid cash for a Virgin Atlantic flight.

  • Bavsax says:

    When booking a VS points reward flight + Companion Voucher flight, is the Companion Voucher flight treated as reward flight attracting the TP also?

    • Rob says:

      No-one has ever said it doesn’t, put it that way.

      • The Original Nick says:

        I flew LHR – BOM in February. Paid for Premium economy return but used my Virgin upgrade voucher to fly UC return. Paid around £800. It was quite a good experience to be fair. Good flight times too. I think I used around 30,000 VS points. I got 200 tier points for the return. I completely forgot about the tier points that I’d get added but realised when they hit after AW notification. Not Sure if I’ll fit any more flights in to get to Gold as I’m concentrating on renewing BA Gold.

  • QFFlyer says:

    Not quite the first, since Qantas started giving Status Credits on classic reward flights in April 2020…

  • pigeon says:

    This is a big feature at Delta – and it works basically identically.

    The restrictions on use (eg partner redemptions excluded) seem designed for the Delta use case. For the example, there’s a loophole where you use Virgin points instead of Delta miles for transatlantic Delta One for a massive discount. But now you lose the MQM and MQD (deltas version of tier points). I wonder if they used Virgin to test the systems out?

  • Stu_N says:

    I’ve never understood why all hotels give you nights/ stays toward status on redemption stays but airlines – with rate exceptions – don’t give tier points or equivalent.

    Unless you’re generating vast quantities of miles through non-flying means you’re unlikely to get airline status from redemptions alone. You’d need minimum 150k miles to get enough TPs for BA Silver for example (15 domestic CE singles) for example.

    • Rob says:

      It’s only in recent years that the hotels have done this – one started and then the rest felt obliged to follow. BA clearly thinks that it doesn’t need to follow what Virgin does.

      To be fair its also lower impact for the hotels. Marriott Platinum is 50 nights, of which I reckon I’ll get 8 max via redemptions this year. Virgin Silver is 400 TP and I’m getting half of that in one US redemption in October.

  • LittleNick says:

    I think we could all wager a theory as to why BA doesn’t do this, they know their lounges are at capacity and having additional status members from points redemptions is probably not something they want right now.

    • Sean says:

      Let’s imagine a scenario where the lounges aren’t at “capacity” – what do imagine the BA beancounters will do?

      • Rob says:

        Historically BA seems to have a target number of elites it wants, and if the number drops due to recession etc you suddenly see double tier point promos, random extensions given to members who fall short etc.

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