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How to upgrade your Virgin Atlantic flight with Virgin Points (Virgin Redemption University #6)

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How can you use Virgin Points to upgrade your next Virgin Atlantic flight?

This article is Part 6 of our new ‘Virgin Redemption University’ series to run alongside our existing ‘Avios Redemption University’ – which itself will get a much-needed update next month.

If you want to earn more Virgin Points, our review of the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard credit card is here (15,000 bonus points) and our review of the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard credit card is here.

How to upgrade a Virgin Atlantic flight

Here are the other 12 articles in the series:

How to upgrade flights using Virgin Points

The official upgrade page on the Virgin Atlantic website is here.

Upgrading using Virgin Points is a relatively painless exercise and, following a recent change, the pricing is now more logical.

How do Virgin Atlantic upgrades differ from British Airways upgrades?

There are three key features which separate British Airways from Virgin Atlantic when it comes to upgrading flights:

  • GOOD NEWS – Virgin Atlantic allows you to upgrade by TWO cabins if you wish, moving directly from Economy (if your ticket qualifies) to Upper Class. British Airways only lets you upgrade by one cabin.
  • GOOD NEWS – whilst Economy Light tickets cannot be upgraded, Economy Classic and Economy Delights seats can. These are often only marginally more expensive than Economy Light. By contrast, British Airways does not allow cheaper Economy tickets to be upgraded and you are far higher up the price ladder before you can upgrade.
  • BAD NEWS – you cannot book and upgrade during the same online transaction. You need to make your Economy Classic, Economy Delight or Premium booking first and then call Flying Club to upgrade. British Airways allows you to book and upgrade online in one transaction – although you can be sold a higher cash fare than necessary.

What airlines can be upgraded?

You can only use Virgin Points to upgrade flights operated by Virgin Atlantic with a VS flight number.

You cannot upgrade flights on partner airlines, even if they have a VS flight number.

How to upgrade your Virgin Atlantic flight with Virgin Points

What tickets can be upgraded?

Virgin Atlantic lets you upgrade into any cabin.

As Virgin Atlantic only operates three classes – Economy, Premium and Upper Class – the maximum you can upgrade is by two cabins, from Economy all the way to Upper Class.

There is one limitation on which tickets can be upgraded. Only Economy Classic or Economy Delight tickets can be upgraded: the cheapest Economy Light tickets are not eligible.

Can you still upgrade if you used ‘Points and Miles’ to part-pay with Virgin Points?

Yes.

Do you need redemption availability in the higher class to upgrade?

Yes.

In order to upgrade your ticket there must be a Virgin Points redemption seat available in the cabin you wish to upgrade to. This is the same availability that is required for a ‘standard’ redemption booking. You can easily check for a reward seat via the Virgin Atlantic website.

How do you upgrade?

To upgrade your flight using points you must contact the Virgin Atlantic call centre on 0344 209 2722. There is no online tool.

Elite members may see a different contact number on the website after logging in.

Comments below suggest that the airport check-in desks can process a points upgrade if space opened up at the last minute.

Do all passengers on a booking need to upgrade?

Yes. The way around this is to ask the call centre to split the booking so that the person to be upgraded is on a different booking reference.

How to upgrade your Virgin Atlantic flight with Virgin Points

Can you upgrade just one leg of a return flight?

Yes.

How much does it cost to upgrade flights with Virgin Points?

The cost of an upgrade is the difference in points required between the cabin you booked and the cabin you upgrade to.

Until a few months ago the cost was approximately the difference, with some upgrades costing more and others less. Virgin Atlantic has now tidied things up.

Here are peak season upgrade costs (return, halve for one way flights):

Virgin Atlantic upgrade costs

Here is off-peak pricing (return, halve for a one way flight):

Virgin Atlantic upgrade pricing

Peak and off-peak dates can be found on the Virgin Atlantic website here.

The full Virgin Atlantic reward chart, and the peak and off-peak dates, can be found in Part 2 of this series of articles here.

Can you upgrade a lap infant?

Lap infants can be upgraded for a nominal fee:

  • Economy to Premium – 1,000 points per sector
  • Premium to Upper Class – 2,500 points per sector
  • Economy to Upper Class – 3,500 points per sector

Lap infants are babies under 2 years old at time of travel. They must travel on your lap – they do not get their own seat. To book a lap infant, call the Virgin Atlantic contact centre.

How to upgrade your Virgin Atlantic flight with Virgin Points

Don’t forget about ‘taxes and charges’

In addition to paying for the upgrade using Virgin Points, you’ll also have to pay the difference in taxes and charges. This can be a substantial jump.

Very roughly ….

  • upgrading from Economy to Premium will cost around £250
  • upgrading from Premium to Upper Class will cost around £450
  • upgrading from Economy to Upper Class will cost around £700

This varies substantially by route. You can work out the exact number by doing a dummy Virgin Points redemption for the class you are booked into and a second dummy booking for the class you want to fly in. The difference is what you pay.

Upgrading a one-way flight will not necessarily cost half of the amount above because of the impact of UK Air Passenger Duty on flights from the UK.

Do you still earn tier points and Virgin Points?

Upgraded tickets are still eligible to earn Virgin Points and Flying Club tier points.

These will be calculated based on the original fare you paid, and not the higher class you upgraded to.

According to two different comments below, you also have the option of asking Virgin Atlantic to treat your upgraded flight as a redemption ticket. This means that you would receive zero Virgin Points BUT you would receive tier points based on the cabin in which you actually flew. If you are chasing Virgin Atlantic status you may prefer this.

What is the cancellation policy on upgraded tickets?

Whilst ‘100% points’ reward tickets are fully refundable, this is not the case when you use Virgin Points to upgrade.

Your upgraded ticket retains the same cancellation policy as your original cash ticket, which is very likely to be non refundable.

There are other ways to upgrade ….

Don’t forget that using points is not the only way you can upgrade your cabin class. There are two other ways to do so

One option is to pay for an upgrade using cash. Virgin Atlantic will often offer upgrades when you check in and – on quiet flights – will email you before departure allowing you to bid for an upgrade.

The second option is to use a Virgin Atlantic credit card voucher to upgrade. Using the voucher wipes the points required to upgrade, although you do have to pay the additional taxes and charges. We will look at this in more detail in a future article in this series.


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 (24)

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

  • pigeon says:

    I generally find it easier to do the whole booking by phone when upgrading – last time took under 10 mins.

    There used to be a requirement that the ticket be a 932 or 006 issued ticket, not sure if this is still the case.

    And as mentioned above, understand you can ask for the ticket to be treated as a redemption for frequent flyer accrual. Not attempted this myself though.

  • Thomas says:

    Slightly related question. Does a Virgin CC companion voucher require a virgin CC when using? In a similar way to the BA vouchers needing an Amex of some description (I believe). Coming to end of my paid Virgin CC year and wondering if I can straight up cancel (voucher applies to my virgin account) or need to downgrade to the free card.

  • Jonathan says:

    Given that VS routes are all long haul, and the cost difference between Light and Classic isn’t too much at all, you ask yourself ‘who buys these seat options ?!’

    Whenever I fly VS Economy, it’s always Delight, more points, but seat options !

    • Jonathan says:

      *better, not but

    • Mike says:

      I can tell you one anecdote on who buys them. A young lad at work was booking his holiday with me, and stated that his gf in the USA had booked flights on Virgin Atlantic for him to fly over. I mentioned that Virgin had these terrible tickets with no luggage allowance and to check. He was there must be luggage yada yada. Turned out it was the no luggage… So the audience is probably people who are inexperienced and don’t notice. Though there may be hard core hand luggage travellers.

      • Luma says:

        I can do hand luggage only no problem. I often do it on business long haul flights. It’s turning being stuck in a middle seat in economy that I don’t want

        • Mike says:

          I overpack and fly business with two suitcase and a large backpack. Simply because the only time I need to push the suitcases is in the way to-from-thru’ the airport. The rest of the time luggage sits the hotel. The only attraction to me for travelling light (expect very short trips) is not waiting for baggage.

  • JandeW says:

    Perfect timing, Rob. Thks. Just upgraded our BOS-LHR return tonight from PE to UC, but cost today was (as Bahrain Lad suggested above) 30k points pp (+ £320 tax pp). Cash alternative was £849.00 pp.

    • Rob says:

      Yes, it’s weird. Not sure what is going on with the website chart.

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

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