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.
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
How many tier points do I need for Virgin Atlantic status?
There are two elite tiers in the Virgin Atlantic programme:
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 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.
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 (September 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):
SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard is doubled to 30,000 Virgin Points if you apply by 2nd October. You receive 15,000 Virgin Points with your first purchase and a further 15,000 points if you spend £3,000 within 90 days. Apply here.
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.
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.
Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into 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.)