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I’m finding it very hard to get excited about Virgin Atlantic’s latest “amazing” promotion


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Through 7 November, Virgin Atlantic is offering Flying Club members a 50% rebate on select award bookings made for travel taken by 25 March 2023 but as hard as I try, I don’t seem to be able to muster up the excitement that a few others appear to have for this promotion.

The promotion

  • Book by 7 November 2022
  • Travel by 25 March 2023
  • Get 50% of the Virgin Atlantic Points that you spend back as a rebate
  • Valid for routes to/from the US and Caribbean for UK members
  • Valid on routes to/from the UK for US members

Note: This offer is not valid for Gold Reward Seat bookings.

Key terms

  • To be eligible for this offer, members must book a new flight through virginatlantic.com or Virgin Atlantic contact centre.​
  • You must be a resident of the United Kingdom or the United States and a member of Virgin Red and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and have linked your accounts before booking. Virgin Points will be credited to your Virgin Red account.​
  • 50% points back is applicable on all new bookings made for Reward flights and points upgrades on the following Virgin Atlantic routes:​
    • UK members: US and Caribbean routes to/from the UK​
    • US members: UK routes to and from the US ​
  • Valid for new ticketed flight reward seats and upgrades for travel booked using Virgin Points between: 00:01 28-Oct-22 and 23:59 07-Nov-22 AND travelled prior to: 23:59 on 25th-Mar-23 .​
  • Valid on Virgin Atlantic marketed and operated flights only (flight number starts with VS). Partner airline and codeshare flights are not eligible.  ​
  • Points plus Money redemptions are excluded.
  • Not valid on Gold Reward Seats (reward seats booked with double points).​
  • Upgrade Rewards and Companion Rewards, including those earned on Virgin Atlantic Credit Cards, are eligible for this offer.​
  • 50% of the Virgin Points redeemed will be returned to the original lead booking member for all reward seats on that booking. Points will be credited to the member’s Virgin Red account within 28 days after the original final flight within the booking has completed. ​
  • Standard Tier Points will be awarded.​
  • Full taxes, fees and carrier-imposed surcharges apply and vary according to choice of cabin, departure airport, destination and date(s) of travel. The 50% back offer only applies to points, not any cash element (taxes, fees and carrier-imposed surcharges) of the flight price. ​

Full terms and conditions can be found on the promotion page.

Thoughts

I’ve seen quite a bit of excitement for this promotion in some quarters but I’m struggling to see how this is as “amazing” or “fantastic” as some are claiming, and it’s certainly not the “redemption deal of the year” that one amoral site is calling it.

Firstly, Virgin Atlantic isn’t offering a 50% discount, it’s offering a 50% rebate (which will appear in the lead booker’s account within 28 days of completing travel), so anyone without a decent number of Virgin Points already sitting in their account won’t be able to make much use of this promotion.

Yes, those short of points for a booking can currently buy Virgin Points with a 70% bonus (here) but promotions should be about saving money not spending more.

US-based members could also transfer points into Flying Club from Amex, Chase, Capital One, and Citi but as those points can be put to considerably better use elsewhere, that’s not something that I’m comfortable recommending.

Secondly, this promotion only applies to flights marketed and operated by Virgin Atlantic, and not only does that seriously limit the routes on which this promotion can be used, but it also means that travelers are beholden to Virgin Atlantic award availability which, although better than before, is far from plentiful.

Thirdly, Virgin Atlantic’s ridiculous surcharges still have to be taken into account.

Yes, valid bookings will see a 50% points rebate being handed out but the fact remains that the biggest issue with Virgin Atlantic awards isn’t the number of points that they require. It’s the surcharges.

On a one-way London – New York Business Class award, Virgin Atlantic will add ~£630/~$725 to a booking…

…and on a one-way Los Angeles – London Business Class award, Virgin Atlantic will add $875 to the booking.

Incredibly, a roundtrip award on this route would see a staggering $2,041 added in taxes, fees, and surcharges.

That isn’t so much a “deal” as it is a colossal rip-off.

I’ll concede that on Economy Class bookings originating in the UK (where surcharges are lower and award bookings include a checked baggage allowance) there will be times when this promotion will have its uses.

A roundtrip Economy award between London and LA, for example, will cost 15,000 points and ~£285/~$330 in fees during “standard season” (after the 50% rebate has been factored in) and assuming that you don’t value Virgin Points at more than 0.85p/1.00c, that can be a decent deal.

It’s not, however, an amazing or fantastic deal by any stretch of the imagination.

If you’re originating in the US, the “deal” is considerably worse as although the points requirement remains the same, the surcharges added to a LA – London roundtrip Economy Class booking are ~$475.

Bottom line

Virgin Atlantic is offering  Flying Club members a 50% points rebate on select awards booked by the end of the day (UK time) on 7 November but contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, this isn’t a particularly fantastic deal.

Yes, it has its uses and yes, it may save some people a little money but as this deal does nothing to reduce the horrendous and outrageous surcharges that Virgin Atlantic likes to charge on award bookings, it’s not a deal that everyone should be getting overly excited about.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Totally agree. That’s one significant reason I’m skipping it. The other is the requirement for travel to be completed before March 25. The holiday periods already have very limited available to/from London. So you’re basically down to low season for Virgin everywhere unless flying to South Africa, Tel Aviv or Hong Kong (which if you’re in the US makes it a very long trip that can be had for less miles elsewhere). It’s a great promotion for Virgin and proving so given all the noise being made about it, and it fits right in with their marketing as a counter-culture airline. But the cost to Virgin is near zero and it will fill some seats in low season. There’s almost no benefit for anyone in the US wanting to use it unless you were planning an off-season trip anyway

  2. Good call TfM!!
    Watching the Points Doosh fall all over himself on this deal is embarrassing. Dude is the biggest shill in the travel blog universe. And not allowing comments is so cowardly.

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