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Victory? Virgin Atlantic reverses its £200 increase in Upper Class reward seat surcharges

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As we covered yesterday, Virgin Atlantic had increased the ‘carrier imposed surcharge’ (which it pockets) to £900 on transatlantic redemptions in Upper Class.

This took the total ‘taxes and charges’ figure to a crazy £1,196 on Upper Class flights between Heathrow and New York JFK, or indeed anywhere else in the United States.

Our article yesterday generated a huge push back with over 200 comments. It also gave us one of our largest ever daily page view totals.

Last night, the £200 increase in surcharges was reversed.

Virgin Atlantic reverses its £200 increase in surcharges

This is what the Virgin Atlantic website was showing last night for a London Heathrow to New York JFK flight in Upper Class:

Virgin Atlantic reverses its £200 increase in surcharges

The ‘carrier imposed surcharge’ has dropped from £900 to £700. Hopefully this will stick.

British Airways has NOT reduced its equivalent £900 surcharge. However, because BA uses fixed fees for standard redemptions, the surcharge was only an issue if you were upgrading a cash ticket.

How much are Upper Class surcharges across the Virgin Atlantic network?

I thought we’d take a look at the charges added to Upper Class redemptions across the full Virgin Atlantic network.

If nothing else, it means we have a full record for future reference ….

Whilst surcharges are high, availability is rarely an issue as long as you are happy to pay. Virgin Atlantic now guarantees that 12 seats are opened for redemption on every flight – two in Upper Class, two in Premium and eight in Economy Classic.

It’s also worth remembering that, unlike almost any other airline, redemptions on Virgin Atlantic earn you tier points. On redemption flights, you will usually earn the following:

  • Economy: 25 tier points each way
  • Premium: 50 tier points each way
  • Upper Class: 100 tier points each way

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

Take a look at the table below. You can find peak and off-peak dates on this page of the Virgin Atlantic website. Tel Aviv is suspended until at least September 2024. I have ignored routes which start outside London.

Three things jump out:

  • all routes to the US have identical surcharges of £996 return in Upper Class (this is back to the position before last weekend when it jumped to £1,196)
  • other routes tend to be £800-£900 (these routes did not change last weekend)
  • Tel Aviv is the cheapest Upper Class redemption at £354 return, Shanghai is the cheapest long(er) haul redemption at £581 return
Return pricesStandard Upper ClassPeak Upper ClassTaxes and charges
Cape Town115,000135,000£883
Las Vegas135,000155,000£996
Los Angeles135,000155,000£996
Maldives (Male)115,000135,000£948
New York95,000115,000£996
San Francisco135,000155,000£996
St Lucia115,000135,000£841
St Vincent115,000135,000£794
Tel Aviv56,00066,000£354
The Bahamas115,000135,000£927
Turks & Caicos115,000135,000£920
Washington DC95,000115,000£996

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (April 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 15,000 Virgin Points):

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 bonus points 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 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 (123)

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

  • supergraeme says:

    Actually, further to my ‘HfP sway’ wifi request above, I think the collective should lean on Virgin to provide proper amenity kits. Those paper things are an embarrassment and clearly just a money-saver rather than an environment-saver.

    • Rhys says:

      I’ve told them!

      • Rob says:

        ….. but they were genuinely done for environmental reasons. We went to Crawley once and they had a room containing everything – literally – that was brought onto an aircraft. It was there so they could see how many items they had to work on to be more sustainable.

        Personally I would scrap them and do an Emirates, putting drawers in the loos where you can take what you want. On a return family holiday we get 8 amenity kits.

        • supergraeme says:

          Perhaps, but is it just a happy coincidence that it must save a fair amount of money? For me (NHS staff who doesn’t fly for work, so like it to be ‘special’) it makes the experience quite a lot less premium. When you look at what other airlines do it just feels more…. LCC.

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

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