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Forums Frequent flyer programs Virgin Flying Club No Upper Class return flights released MLE – LHR?

  • DJP31 96 posts

    Don’t forget it is 4am from this Sunday until Easter Saturday as clocks go forward in the US this Sunday.

    That’s a helpful reminder, thank you.

    I also had several fall-back options lined up in case I was unsuccessful. With 3 flights/week in both cases at peak demand time they really are like gold dust. That may be a little more tricky from Male but a connection to Bengaluru or Chennai and flight back from there may work and offer the option to see somewhere else on your trip.

    My fall back option, which I’ve primed Mrs DJP31 for, is the indignity of travelling back PE!

    marks7389 425 posts

    Thinking about, it will only be 4am if the seats are released at midnight ET, adjusted for daylight saving. I’m not sure whether they do adjust for daylight saving.

    I know BA doesn’t which is why seats are released at 1am during the Summer.

    It could be 4am or 5am UK time from Sunday, band then either 5am or 6am from Easter Sunday depending on the answer.

    Does anyone know?

    AL 580 posts

    VS385 from MLE-LHR on 30th January 2025 is showing 4 seats taken in Upper Class. At this stage those are almost certainly redemption bookings.

    How do we know that? I would imagine MLE is a popular honeymoon place, for example, and people book those ages in advance.

    jj 529 posts


    Not sure if the call centre can put a hold on seats whilst payment is taken and they immediately disappear from view, but if they can that could conceivably have happened before you even saw them….
    ”’

    That’s exactly what the agents do. Last time I called to book a redemption flight using a voucher, the super-helpful agent had put the seats on hold within a few seconds of starting the call. He then said that we could relax and take our time with no risk of another customer usurping me.

    marks7389 425 posts

    VS385 from MLE-LHR on 30th January 2025 is showing 4 seats taken in Upper Class. At this stage those are almost certainly redemption bookings.

    How do we know that? I would imagine MLE is a popular honeymoon place, for example, and people book those ages in advance.

    Unlikely on the day they are released though. And if anyone is they are almost certainly paying over the odds.

    DJP31 96 posts

    An update on my experience. Firstly, and as mentioned by others the Reward Seat Availablity Chart is virtually useless for the most popular destinations. It is updated literally hours and hours ater the seats are released and explains why there never appears to be any availability. It shows as “none available” and by the time they have been released and the webiste updated there are indeed “none available” – they’ve been snapped up in the meantime.

    Secondly, the seats become available at 5AM except now when it’s 4AM and will be until our clocks in the UK go forward. I got the two I was after at 4:04AM as the operator was explaning to me they wouldn’t be available until 5AM – until there they were. She imemdiately reserved them which takes the pressure off.

    Thirdly, the agents don’t seem to know how many points are needed when using a c/card reward voucher, whether you class it as an updgrade or a compananion voucher. I got there in the end but it wasn’t easy. As a Red member the compananion goes for 25% of the points price on the companion chart each way. So for MLE-LHR it’s 67,400 points, so I paid 16,850 plus the 67,500 for me (and the same outbound). The tax and surchages were a total of £1.6k but the seats are free to reserve which they aren’t on BA. I have no idea whether this is companion pricing or upgrade pricing and to be hoenst I don’t care anymore!

    Will I bother continuing with Virgin in addition to BA? Don’t know. I’ve never flown Virgin so the experience might make up for the drama of securing the seats in the first place. The routes are limitied in number but we are tending to travel to the Caribbean annually so could probably use one there, which would free up an Amex or Bcys voucher.

    I’m pleased the booking experience is over though!

    NorthernLass 7,985 posts

    Well done for getting through that and bagging your seats! I thought you needed 50% points for a companion in UC but might be remembering that wrongly. I’m hoping that I can use my voucher to upgrade 2 of us to UC on MAN-ATL when they are released in a few weeks, as this would only cost 2 x the PE points, but it sounds like it depends on the agent you get. If I can’t do that I might settle for 241 in PE, though that would leave me with half a companion voucher unused.

    DJP31 96 posts

    Well done for getting through that and bagging your seats! I thought you needed 50% points for a companion in UC but might be remembering that wrongly. I’m hoping that I can use my voucher to upgrade 2 of us to UC on MAN-ATL when they are released in a few weeks, as this would only cost 2 x the PE points, but it sounds like it depends on the agent you get. If I can’t do that I might settle for 241 in PE, though that would leave me with half a companion voucher unused.

    The agent I spoke to had years of experience but still got it wrong until she doubled checked with someone else at my insistence. The one booking the outbound didn’t have the faintest idea and it took a long time to get it right. It probably didn’t help that I’m not familiar with the Virgin set up so my terminlogy might have confused too.

    I think if you are experienced and know how it’s supposed to work you should get there with less early morning stress than I did. It didn’t help that when I booked the outbound a little over a week again the standard/peak season chart was wrong and had the Indian Ocean as stanadrd not peak for January.

    NorthernLass 7,985 posts

    By the end of January it shouldn’t be peak pricing any more, surely?

    DJP31 96 posts

    By the end of January it shouldn’t be peak pricing any more, surely?

    Caribbean & Indian Ocean peak season:

    7 December 2024 – 2 March 2025

    NorthernLass 7,985 posts

    That’s insane! At least BA sticks to the school holidays, and even then has 1 or 2 off-peak days per week. I shall remember that for any future Maldives trip.

    marks7389 425 posts

    Yes, it’s complicated and the extended winter peak dates on Caribbean and Maldives flights may well make BA a more attractive redemption option in some cases outside of school holidays (not to mention BA has more flights and releases more Club seats).

    This scenario is one of the few cases where it makes sense for a Red status member to use a single credit card voucher as a companion voucher.

    In many cases, using it as an upgrade voucher to pay the Premium points rate for one leg and Upper Class for the other is better, unless it’s one of the minority cases where Premium costs more than half the UC points. That’s worth noting if, for example, your looking at Caribbean flights in the future.

    DonLee 229 posts

    An update on my experience. Firstly, and as mentioned by others the Reward Seat Availablity Chart is virtually useless for the most popular destinations. It is updated literally hours and hours ater the seats are released and explains why there never appears to be any availability. It shows as “none available” and by the time they have been released and the webiste updated there are indeed “none available” – they’ve been snapped up in the meantime.

    Secondly, the seats become available at 5AM except now when it’s 4AM and will be until our clocks in the UK go forward. I got the two I was after at 4:04AM as the operator was explaning to me they wouldn’t be available until 5AM – until there they were. She imemdiately reserved them which takes the pressure off.

    Thirdly, the agents don’t seem to know how many points are needed when using a c/card reward voucher, whether you class it as an updgrade or a compananion voucher. I got there in the end but it wasn’t easy. As a Red member the compananion goes for 25% of the points price on the companion chart each way. So for MLE-LHR it’s 67,400 points, so I paid 16,850 plus the 67,500 for me (and the same outbound). The tax and surchages were a total of £1.6k but the seats are free to reserve which they aren’t on BA. I have no idea whether this is companion pricing or upgrade pricing and to be hoenst I don’t care anymore!

    Will I bother continuing with Virgin in addition to BA? Don’t know. I’ve never flown Virgin so the experience might make up for the drama of securing the seats in the first place. The routes are limitied in number but we are tending to travel to the Caribbean annually so could probably use one there, which would free up an Amex or Bcys voucher.

    I’m pleased the booking experience is over though!

    Hi @DJP31, may I ask which number did you used to call at 5am? Thanks

    NigelHamilton 218 posts

    I managed to pick up the two available MLE-LHR upper class seats for 14 March 2025 relatively painlessly. I called at 7am UK time (happened to be in Berlin, but sure that made no difference) on 00443442092722. There was an option to select an UC dedicated line in one of the menus.

    Thought the Virgin agents were very good, put the outbound PE seats on hold one day(I was too late for UC), the UC the next whilst waiting for my points transfer. Couldn’t use my 241 voucher as it was about to expire (tried hard!)

    I did notice that the seat availability was showing the evening before on the website even though not possible to book then. The agent confirmed the date was one day too early and advised me to call at 8am UK the next day. Called at 7 and got straight through.

    The experience would have been totally painless had I not forgotten there was an AMEX offer on the platinum card and hence I’m (potentially) £250 worse off than I could have been!

    NorthernLass 7,985 posts

    Great result. I imagine I’m going to be kissing my December-expiring voucher goodbye then, but at least I have a newer one! Plan is to get 2 x UC NAS-LHR early next April, I just hope they don’t try to charge me extra points for upgrading rather than using the voucher as a 241.

    DJP31 96 posts

    An update on my experience. Firstly, and as mentioned by others the Reward Seat Availablity Chart is virtually useless for the most popular destinations. It is updated literally hours and hours ater the seats are released and explains why there never appears to be any availability. It shows as “none available” and by the time they have been released and the webiste updated there are indeed “none available” – they’ve been snapped up in the meantime.

    Secondly, the seats become available at 5AM except now when it’s 4AM and will be until our clocks in the UK go forward. I got the two I was after at 4:04AM as the operator was explaning to me they wouldn’t be available until 5AM – until there they were. She imemdiately reserved them which takes the pressure off.

    Thirdly, the agents don’t seem to know how many points are needed when using a c/card reward voucher, whether you class it as an updgrade or a compananion voucher. I got there in the end but it wasn’t easy. As a Red member the compananion goes for 25% of the points price on the companion chart each way. So for MLE-LHR it’s 67,400 points, so I paid 16,850 plus the 67,500 for me (and the same outbound). The tax and surchages were a total of £1.6k but the seats are free to reserve which they aren’t on BA. I have no idea whether this is companion pricing or upgrade pricing and to be hoenst I don’t care anymore!

    Will I bother continuing with Virgin in addition to BA? Don’t know. I’ve never flown Virgin so the experience might make up for the drama of securing the seats in the first place. The routes are limitied in number but we are tending to travel to the Caribbean annually so could probably use one there, which would free up an Amex or Bcys voucher.

    I’m pleased the booking experience is over though!

    Hi @DJP31, may I ask which number did you used to call at 5am? Thanks

    0800 862 8621

    Guernsey Globetrotter 602 posts

    Data point confirming that
    (1) @DJP31 ‘s phone number above worked for me too. I called this morning at about 4.50am, took about 10 mins for line to be answered. I also had the Gold line ringing on another phone, which I called a few minutes after going on hold as a back-up plan, but the regular number was picked up first. Total call time 30 mins to complete booking and payment process.
    (2) Having grabbed the outbound when a SeatSpy alert for availability was randomly triggered in the middle of a Sunday afternoon at day count +331, today bagged the 2 UC reward seats for March 29 return (full 331 days out again).
    At time of writing there is still no hint of any availability in ANY cabin on the 29th in Virgin’s reward flight checker or Seatspy, so you can’t always rely on that tech, sometimes you just have to go for it!
    10 days at the Conrad Rangali here we come 😀

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