Hello everyone! When flying to the states I’ve generally favoured Virgin Atlantic as my airline of choice where all prices are equal or close. It’s always been an airline I’ve had good service from and I just like the fact the brand has a bit of a unique character and style. Over the years I’ve made extensive use of the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club loyalty scheme, so I’m writing a review of the scheme today
How does Virgin Atlantic Flying Club work?
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is essentially a classic Air Miles scheme, where you’ll get a certain about of Virgin Points (formerly flying club miles) each time you travel. The amount of miles you get depend on a variety of factors – where you’re going, what class you’re flying in and what Virgin Atlantic Flying Club tier you’re in. (With both of these last two, being higher equates to earning more).
One of the nice things about the scheme is the fact you’re earning Virgin Points rather than Air Miles which gives you options. I’ve usually used mine as classic airmiles and treated myself to an upgraded flight on a holiday, but you can also use them for other products in the Virgin group, such as a Virgin Trains journey or something from Virgin Experience Days.
How many Virgin Points will I earn through Flying Club for a trip?
Virgin make it very easy to find out exactly how many Virgin Points you’ll earn from each route with a great calculator on their website – simply put in your destination and the tier you’re flying in (more on this below) and you’ll be told the lowest number of points you’ll earn.
An example picture of the calculator is below – demonstrating how many points you’ll earn on a Premium Economy flight to New York.
Another option is to start the process of booking a flight on the Virgin Atlantic Website – you’ll have to go through to the “Review and Pay” step of the process but the specifics of how many miles you’ll earn can be found right at the bottom of the page.
You can find detail on the Flying Club Earning Calculator at the Virgin Atlantic website here.
What is the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Tier system?
On top of earning Virgin Points for each flight, you’ll also earn Tier points as well.
This is Virgin Atlantic‘s way of rewarding those who are flying frequently to keep them using the brand – realistically you need to be flying multiple times a year to move up the ranks. If you are in this position (such as if you’re flying for business travel) then you’ll secure some extra benefits.
How many Virgin Flying Club Tier points will I earn per flight?
This gets a little bit complex. In a broad sense you’ll earn additional tier points the higher the class you’re flying in, but the amount you earn is also determined by what loyalty tier you’re in of Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
What are the Virgin Flying Club Tiers?
Red – any member joining Virgin Flying Club will be in the Red Tier – this is just standard membership.
If you earn 400 Flying Club Tier Points in a year you’ll be upgraded to:
Silver – This has a few nice perks. The biggest benefit by far is the fact you’ll earn Virgin Points at an increased earnings rate of +30%. You can also use the Premium Economy check in desks as a Silver Flying Club member, and get priority boarding.
The serious benefits come at the next level, but you have to fly a lot to get there – earning 1000 Flying Club Tier Points.
Gold – At this point you’re getting a really nice increased Virgin Points earnings rate of an additional +60%. The real benefit of being here though is the access to both the excellent Virgin lounge (known as clubhouses) and arrival lounges where available. This also applies when you fly with Delta owing to the tie-up between the two airlines. You can also take an extra piece of hold and hand luggage, regardless of which class you’re flying in.
Does Virgin Atlantic Tier Status Expire?
Yes, your Virgin Atlantic Tier Points will expire after 12 months and if you haven’t maintained the required amount of Tier Points your status will drop to the next level down.
How many Virgin Points do I need to spend for a trip?
Just as Virgin Atlantic have introduced a helpful calculator to calculate how many Virgin Points you’ll earn from each flight, they also have a similar calculator for how much you’ll need to spend to take a flight.
To spend two factors are taking into account. One is the class of flight as you’d expect, but there are also “peak” and “non-peak” seasons where miles cost is more or less expensive depending or not if it’s a busy season for flights or not.
You can find detail on the Flying Club Spending Calculator at the Virgin Atlantic website here.
Do I still pay taxes and charges when buying a reward flight with Virgin Atlantic?
Yes, unfortunately you do. So put aside any expectations of reward flights being entirely free! The exact taxes and charges you have to pay depends what airports you’re flying to and from.
This can often be bigger that you expect, as the UK charges quite a substantial amount in air taxes.
What are Virgin Points?
The Virgin Brand has made changes in the last couple of years as part of a plan to try and improve the overall brand value to switch up all loyalty schemes into being “Virgin Points” which can be spent with various Virgin Brands like Virgin Experience Days or Virgin Wines as well as Virgin Atlantic.
This provides a bit more flexibility and value to the miles, although frequent flyers are still likely to spend them with Virgin Atlantic.
How much are Virgin Points worth?
This is a very difficult question to answer as it depends how you spend your Virgin Points.
The versatility of the scheme is great in terms of how many ways you can spend the points, but different redemption can have different benefits from a range of approximately 0.5p per point to as much as 2p per point.
The better value redemptions do tend to be on the premium end of flights – the 2p per point value is achieved on using your Virgin Points to buy a long-haul flight in Upper Class, however you’ll need a lot of miles in order to get there!
The lower end 0.5p is found when redeeming a shorter-distance economy flight – as you’ll still pay fees and taxes, you’re not actually saving that much by cashing in your miles.
Is Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Free?
Yes absolutely, it’s completely free to join and you can earn Virgin Points as soon as you’re signed up.
Do Virgin Points Expire?
Virgin Points will expire if there is no activity in your account within 36 months. This can be from any source, so you don’t have to earn them through taking a flight with Virgin Atlantic.
One hack is that if you’re in a position where your Flying Club miles are expiring soon, you can make a small purchase going through the Shops Away shopping portal via the Virgin Atlantic website (this acts the same way as a cashback site, only you get Flying Club miles).
What are the best ways to earn Virgin Points?
Flying is consistently the fastest way to earn Virgin Points, however if you’re a regular flyer with Virgin it also might be worth considering the Virgin Atlantic Credit Cards, which earn Virgin Points at a good rate when spending and have the added bonus of at reward thresholds providing you with a voucher for a companion fare, upgrade voucher or clubhouse pass.
We like the Virgin Credit Cards – as long as you’ll use the reward from them (and always pay off the credit card in full) the earning rate is very strong – see our full review in our article on the best rewards credit cards in the UK.
Can I use Virgin Points for anything other than flights?
We had a question from a reader on if you could use your Virgin Points earned via Virgin Atlantic Flying Club on anything other than flights.
The answer is yes – but it takes a bit of extra effort.
To use Virgin points for other things, you’ll need to sign up for Virgin Red (which is the Virgin Group’s central loyalty hub) and link your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club account number.
There’s a referral link for Virgin Red here (which can net us both 2,000 points with a qualifying earn)
Virgin Red essentially lets you spend points across the Virgin Group or with other third parties. The best value redemption are those within the Virgin Group as you’d expect, such as with Virgin Experience Days or Virgin Wines.
However, there are a number of other third party organisations you can also cash in Virgin Points, such as Greggs or various cinema chains.
Finally, points don’t expire so can be saved up over the long term for your next flight. (although the cost to redeem can always change).
Review of Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Virgin Atlantic‘s Flying Club is a good reward scheme that offers a generally good rate of return on flights taken, although this is partially as compensation for the more limited range of routes than Virgin’s competitors offer.
Redemptions are at challenging but achievable levels for flyers, especially when combined with other earning sources such as credit cards and the flexibility of Virgin Points means that at least you can get some value out of the points if you don’t achieve enough for the flight.
We’ve deducted a half a star only for the complexities of the tier system. This isn’t a problem unique to Virgin Atlantic but you have to fly an awful lot to get into higher tiers, and the rewards aren’t that great until you hit the Gold level to get the clubhouse access.
Overall though, we think Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is well worth signing up for!
How do I sign up for Virgin Atlantic Flying Club?
If you have any questions about Virgin Atlantic Flying Club or how to use any of the rewards, just drop us a note in the comments below!