Virgin Atlantic’s frequent flyer program matters because it’s easy to earn their points as a US member, and not just for travel to London and beyond.
- They’re a transfer partner of American Express, Chase, and Citibank.
- I used to rack up my points at 1000 per one day rental with Avis and have a bunch there.
- And their US credit card frequently offers up to 90,000 bonus miles.
Virgin Atlantic announced changes to earning of miles and elite status points effective November 13, and redemption changes effective January 15, 2017.
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Most customers will earn fewer miles by flying. Their elite status is among the least rewarding, now it will take more and more expensive flying to get there. None of this is surprising considering that they are 49% owned by Delta and their major competitor is British Airways.
But many customers who would earn points via credit card won’t much mind this at all.
- Fewer miles on cheaper fares, more miles for business class and full fare premium economy
- Lower elite bonuses — Golds dropping from 100% to 60% and Silvers from $50% to 30%
- More difficult to earn elite tier points via flying, which is strange considering the limited benefits of Virgin Atlantic status
- Fewer miles required for some awards
- Kids under 12 can join.
- Gold members get family pooling.
- No more idiotic changing of account numbers when your status changes
- Ability to buy down paid fare with miles (cash and points, starting at 3000 miles)
Earning Elite Status
Virgin’s elite status levels are relatively weak.
Silver status gets you:
- Premium Economy checkin, priority standby
- Access to No.1 Traveller Lounges
- Free economy seat assignments 14 days prior to departure
Gold status gets you:
- Lounge access (with 1 guest traveling with you) when flying Virgin Atlantic and one free spa treatment in the Heathrow lounge and a 10% discount on paid treatments as well as London arrivals lounge access (no guests).
- Extra baggage allowance plus premium checkin, boarding, and security (at London Heathrow and Gatwick) and similar when flying Delta.
- 2,000 miles on your birthday, gifting silver to a household member, one companion ticket, no date change fees on awards, and free seat assignments.
You used to need 15 tier points for Silver and 40 for Gold. They now have a much higher scale: 400 points for Silver and 1000 for Gold, and they’re multiplying existing tier points in accounts by 25.
And here’s how tier points will be earned going forward:
Earning Miles By Flying
Earning from flights will be based on distance and fare class.
- The lowest economy fares (E, Q, V, N, O) earn 50% of flown miles.
- Mid-tier economy (L, U, M) and discount premium economy (H, K) earn 100% of flown miles
- Full fare economy (Y, B, R) earns 150% of flown miles
- Full fare premium economy (W, S) and discount business (I, Z) earn 200% of flown miles
- Full fare business (J, C, D) earn 400% of flown miles
Redemptions on Virgin Atlantic
Effective January 16, Virgin Atlantic is introducing low and high season for redemptions. Currently roundtrip economy betwene the East Coast and London costs 35,000 miles. Low season will drop to just 20,000 miles and high season will increase to 40,000 miles.
- Off-peak: January 16, 2017 – March 30, 2017; April 19 – June 21, 2017; September 7 – December 12, 2017
- Peak: March 31 – April 18, 2017; June 22 – September 06, 2017; December 13 – January 3, 2018.
Business class awards are going up, for instance New York – London will be 95,000 miles roundtrip off-peak and 115,000 miles peak (plus fuel surcharges and UK departure tax of course).
A sweet spot is off-peak premium economy at 35,000 miles roundtrip East Coast – London (the old year-round economy price).
Mileage upgrades are changing, too — you pay half the cost of an award ticket to upgrade one class of service and you pay 75% of an award to upgrade from economy to business (bypassing premium economy). N, O and V economy fares and K premium economy fares are ineligible.
(HT: Head for Points)