Major Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Changes – In Easy Summary Form

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Yesterday afternoon Virgin Atlantic put though a series of major changes to its Flying Club rewards program that not many of us saw coming. The changes are widespread and affect all aspects of the Flying Club program including; how many miles are earned, how many miles are needed for award flights, what bonuses elite flyers are awarded and how many tier points flyers can earn.

I’m in the middle of a manic trip right now so, rather than dissect the changes and critique each one individually, I’ve put together some summary and comparison tables together with some bullet points that will hopefully illustrate what’s changing and when.

  • The changes to how may miles and tier points are earned come into effect from 13 November 2016
  • The changes to how many miles award flights will cost come into effect from 16 January 2017
  • The changes to how many miles upgrades will cost come into effect from 16 January 2017

Changes To Tier Points Earning

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  • Virgin is multiplying all Flying Club members’ Tier Points balances by 25 to bring them in line with how the new tier points system will work.
  • To allow for easy comparison I’ve multiplied the number of tier points each fare class used to earn by 25

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Changes To Mileage Earning

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*Per the Virgin Atlantic website, between 19 March 2015 and 31 May 2016, booking classes J, C or D earned 300% of base flown miles instead of the usual 200%.

Changes To Award Flight Costs

Virgin is going down a similar route to British Airways and introducing the concept of seasons.

For 2017 the seasons will be as follows:

Standard Season (Off-Peak):

  • 16 January – 30 March 30 2017
  • 19 April – 21 June 2017
  • 7 September – 12 December 2017

Peak-Season:

  • 31 March to 18 April 2017
  • 22 June to 6 September 2017
  • 13 December to 31 December 2017

Old roundtrip award prices vs New off-peak awards:

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Old roundtrip award prices vs New peak season awards:

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REMEMBER: Virgin Atlantic, like British Airways, charges high carrier fees on award tickets so there will be a substantial cash payment to be made alongside the miles outlay.

Changes To Upgrade Costs

Flying Club members will now have to pay 50% the cost of an award ticket to upgrade to the next cabin of service and pay 75% of an award ticket to upgrade from Economy to Upper Class (Business Class)

Note that N, O and V Economy fares and K Premium Economy fares are not upgradable.

Old roundtrip upgrade prices vs New upgrade costs during off-peak season:

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Old roundtrip upgrade prices vs New upgrade costs during peak season:

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Other Changes To Virgin Flying Club

  • Elite Bonuses (when earning redeemable miles) have been reduced:
    • Flying Club Gold – 60% (from 100%)
    • Flying Club Silver – 30% (from 50%)
  • Virgin Flying Club membership numbers will no longer change as you change tiers.
  • Children under 12 years of age will be allowed a Flying Club account
  • Flying Club Gold members will be able to pool family miles together into one account
  • Option to book “miles + money” fares is being introduced – for every 3,000 Flying Club miles you spend you’ll get an £19/$22 discount on the fare while still earning miles and tier points

Bottom Line

The numbers say it all – some of these changes look positive while others are clearly a big devaluation.

  • Passengers not flying in Upper Class will find it harder to earn status
  • Passengers booked into discount Economy fares will find it a lot harder to earn Flying Club miles
  • Most Upper Class Awards are increasing in cost
  • Premium Economy award look like they could offer some excellent value…especially considering Virgin’s PE cabin gets a lot of plaudits (I’ve reviewed this cabin on the A330).
  • Economy Class award may look attractive in the off-peak season but the carrier imposed fees will still make them unattractive most of the time.
  • Upgrades are a bloodbath.

Apologies in advance if I’ve missed anything out of if I’ve mistyped a number – I’ve tried hard not to but I’m working on next to zero sleep in the last 48 hours!