Posted by William Charles on October 31, 2016
Airline Rewards

Published on October 31st, 2016 | by William Charles

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Virgin Atlantic Changes To Loyalty Program, Side By Side Comparison To Current Program

Virgin Atlantic have announced changes to their loyalty program, these new changes will go into effect on November 13th, 2016 (new flights will be bookable from January 16th, 2017). Here is a quick overview of what is changing:

  • They’ve added off peak and peak seasons for award flights
  • Miles earned will change, premium cabins will earn more points and economy cabins will earn less points.
  • Tier points for elite status will be changing
  • Changes to the amount of miles required for seat upgrades

virgin-atlantic-flying-club

Earning Miles

The number of miles you earn is changing, you can view the full list of what you’ll earn below (add an additional 30% for Silver and 60% for Gold).

new-earning-chart

Virgin Atlantic have provided you with a handy tool so you can compare directly to how many miles you would have previously earned. Basically economy cabins will earn less and premium economy will earn around the same and upper class will earn more.

Tier/Elite Status

Currently Virgin Atlantic has three status levels, this will be staying the same but the number of the tier points required will be changing:

 Old ProgramNew Program
RedNoneNone
Silver15 Tier Points400 Tier Points
Gold40 Tier Points1,000 Tier Points

Now obviously that’s too big so any flights you’ve already booked or taken will be given a multiple of 25 points. If we put that multiple into the above chart, we are given:

 Old ProgramNew Program
RedNoneNone
Silver375 Tier Points400 Tier Points
Gold1,000 Tier Points1,000 Tier Points

As you can see the number of points required is increasingly slightly for Silver staying the same for gold. Virgin are also making changes to how you earn these tier points. Under the previous system the amount of points you earned was as follows:

london-to-all-destinations

And under the new program it’s as follows:

new-system

 Old ProgramNew Program
RedNoneNone
Silver375 Tier Points400 Tier Points
Gold1,000 Tier Points1,000 Tier Points

As you can see you earn slightly more points when flying upper class (apart from Z), the same or less tier points for premium economy and less tier points for economy flights. Keep in mind the number of tier points required is also increasing for silver.

Off-Peak/Peak Award Flights

Virgin Atlantic are distinguishing between two types of award flights depending on when you want to fly

  • Standard (off-peak), these start at 20,000 miles plus taxes and fees
  • Peak, these start at 40,000 miles plus taxes and fees (they also claim that there will be more award availability for these flights)

The new award chart looks as follows:

new-virgin-atlantic-award-chart

Now let’s compare this to the old award charts:

Standard (Off Peak)

Cabin ClassOld ProgramNew Program
J,C, D150200
I125200
Z125100
W,S100100
H,K7550
Y,B,R,L,U,M7550
V,E,Q,X,N,O5025

Peak

 Old  New  
 EconomyPremium EconomyUpper ClassEconomyPremium EconomyUpper Class
India & UAE38500-4250060000-7000080000-100000400005500095000
US – Northeast3500055000800004000055000115000
Carribean45000700001000004000055000135000
US – Midwest and South & Mexico3500055000800004500065000115000
Africa & China38500-5000060000-7500080000-1000004500065000135000
US – West42500700001000005000075000155000

As you can see the peak flights are significantly more expensive and the off peak flights are less expensive.

Peak Dates

Our standard reward flights are available all year round, except for School Holidays, Christmas and Easter. Our peak reward flights are for travel during: March 31 to April 18, 2017, June 22 to September 6, 2017, December 13 to December 31, 2017

Reward Upgrades

If you’d like to upgrade cabins, they’ve simplified the amount of points needed.

  • Single cabin upgrades will cost 50% of the miles of a reward seat
  • Two cabin upgrades will cost 75% of he cost of a reward seat

Currently they use this table:

seat-upgrades

Here is London to New York (keep in mind I used the old award prices to work out what it would cost to keep things simple).

 Old ProgramNew Program
Upgrade Economy to Premium1500013750
Upgrade Premium to Upper2000013750
Upgrade Economy to Upper3500030000

This looks great, but keep in mind that if you want to do the same upgrades in peak season then you need to add an additional  you’ll need an extra 10,000 miles for Economy to Premium Economy and Premium Economy to Upper Class, or an extra 15,000 miles for an Economy to Upper Class upgrade. If we add those surcharges to the above chart then we get:

 Old ProgramNew Program
Upgrade Economy to Premium1500013750
Upgrade Premium to Upper2000013750
Upgrade Economy to Upper3500030000

Significantly more expensive.

Our Verdict

There are a couple of other changes being made, such as miles + cash redemption, not getting a new loyalty number when you change loyalty tier and accounts available for those under 12 (and the ability to pool miles if you have gold status). Overall these changes are horrible, it’s getting more difficult to earn elite status unless you’re flying in the most expensive cabins and the cost of award flights in peak periods are increasingly dramatically.

If you fly off peak and in premium cabins, you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank. Otherwise you’ll most likely be disappointed with these changes.

P.S. it would be great to get some feedback on this post, it’s the first time I’ve tried something like this and am wondering if it’s worth the effort involved or if people would just prefer a brief overview of the changes without the side by side comparison. If you did enjoy it, make sure you share it on social media so I am encouraged to do more of this style of post!



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rob
rob

thanks for covering this. I definitely appreciate it.

I don’t plan on redeeming VS on VS though. Too much YQ. Instead I redeem on VX

Alex
Alex

Thanks William, it’s a good comparison and certainly appreciated effort. Most people, of course, don’t credit to VS and don’t redeem on VS due to the YQ.

The questions that I have are
1. I heard they’re going to do family pooling. This could be a huge positive for certain awards. Wonder about the details.
2. How will BofA adjust Tier Point earning on the VS CC. If they simply multiply by 25, it’s as good as it was.

tassojunior
tassojunior

Does this mean roundtrips only now? One of the sweetspots has always been the very-available 1-ways to London with low fees, often lowered to 12K miles and $75.

Quinn
Quinn

Love the post and the level of detail!

Jonathan
Jonathan

Personally for most of your posts i skip the details and jump straight to the verdict. The fact that you said these changes make the program suck more made me not even to bother to read the rest (which I think is good and I appreciate that part most about your post… You save me valuable time). If you had mentioned key points on why it was a great changr it may have made me read more details.

Robert F
Robert F

For me, the table (and your commentary) comparing the old/new upgrade costs were of great value.

Mountain Man
Mountain Man

“Virgin America are distinguishing between two types of award flights depending on when you want to fly”
You mean VA, not VX. Any mention of changing award charts for their partners such as VX and Delta, etc. ?

Matthew
Matthew

I appreciate you making posts like this!

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