Virgin Atlantic has announced a big change to its frequent flyer programme, allowing members to earn status credits on redemption bookings.

Virgin’s latest status extension comes with a big surprise

Virgin Atlantic just changed the rules of airline loyalty. Before, you could earn airline status by flying (and spending) lots - though you’d get no status credits for booking flights with your miles.

That all changed with the news that Virgin Atlantic is to become the first airline to offer tier points for redemption flights. In the words of Oli Byers, senior VP of data and customer loyalty at the airline:

“We’re making bold changes to deliver a programme which puts the needs of our members first. The introduction of tier points for redemption flights is an industry-leading move that will help customers progress to Silver or Gold membership more quickly and, in turn, enjoy even more rewards with their membership.”

Up until now, tier points were only awarded for flights paid for with cash (or Miles Plus Money) - the change means members will be rewarded every time they fly with Virgin Atlantic.

Any Flying Club member that books a flight from September 1, 2020 with miles, or flies on a service which was purchased using miles, will receive the same tier points as if they were booking with money, which equates to:

  • 25 tier points for Economy (A class) redemptions
  • 50 tier points for Premium economy (P class) redemptions
  • 100 tier points for Upper Class (G class) redemptions will earn

As a reminder, 400 tier points are required for Silver status while 1,000 tier points are needed for Gold.

The new deal creates great opportunities for passengers flying between India and the US (via London) to earn a stack of Virgin Atlantic tier points when they redeem, as such a trip would involve four flights.

Another status extension

Virgin Atlantic was the first UK airline to automatically extend loyalty status (back in March this year) and is now offering Flying Club Gold and Silver members an additional six month extension, meaning all members will have had an extra year to hold on to their tier status.

A new membership card will not be sent but a digital membership card can be viewed online and downloaded via the Virgin Atlantic app. Flying Club accounts will be updated soon so that members can login online and see how many tier points they have, as well as the new end date of their membership year.

Virgin’s vouchers just became more valuable

The good news doesn’t end there, because Virgin Atlantic is also making its frequent flyer vouchers more valuable. First up, the airline is extending the validity of the following vouchers by six months:

  • Gold member Companion reward for Gold status renewal
  • One cabin upgrade for Gold member 2000 tier point reward
  • Clubhouse passes for Gold member 1500 tier point reward
  • Companion reward (credit card vouchers)
  • Premium upgrades (credit card vouchers)
  • Clubhouse passes (Credit card vouchers)

Not only that - the terms and conditions for Companion, Upgrade and Clubhouse vouchers have been reworked to make them simpler and more rewarding, with a single set of rules for each of the three voucher types (regardless of whether they’ve been awarded through a Virgin Atlantic credit card or Gold tier status).

Companion vouchers can now be used in conjunction with a ticket in any booking class and can be used in any cabin of travel, regardless of the member’s tier status.

Gold and Silver members can book their companion into any cabin for zero miles while Red members can book their companion into Economy and Premium for zero miles, or Upper Class (check out our review here) at a 50% miles discount. Taxes and fees apply.

Upgrade vouchers can now be used in conjunction with a ticket in any booking class, for a one cabin upgrade for a return flight (excludes original bookings made in Economy Light).

For more information on all the changes announced, visit the Virgin Atlantic website.

Virgin Atlantic lounge access at Heathrow Terminal 2

London Heathrow Terminal 3 - home of Virgin Atlantic’s world-famous Clubhouse lounge, pictured below and reviewed here - is currently closed, meaning all Virgin flights go from Terminal 2 at the moment.

As a result, Virgin is offering its top passengers access to the Plaza Premium Lounge at T2, where there’s complimentary hot and cold food and beverages plus an exclusive premium drinks package for Virgin Atlantic customers, including champagne.

Summing up

Virgin Atlantic is fighting hard for survival and is introducing a series of passenger-friendly measures, including another status extension and more flexible ways to use its vouchers.

Most eye-catching is its ground-breaking policy of awarding tier points for redemption bookings - a first for the industry.

Virgin Atlantic resumed a limited schedule of passenger flights in July 2020 and says it plans to return to Delhi and Mumbai this autumn.

Will other airlines follow Virgin Atlantic’s lead and offer status credits for flights booked with miles?