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WebFlyer Home > Programs > Ratings & Reviews

Ratings & Reviews

(Program Reviews - Side by Side Comparison - Website Reviews)

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

(94 ratings)


This program was reviewed and rated by our editors in April 2011. Changes in the program past this date are possible, especially program partner information. We recommend you subscribe to the #1 source of frequent flyer information, Inside Flyer Magazine, to get the most current information possible.

Hello Gorgeous

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Records, switched gears from the Rolling Stones to the rollout of a new airline when he launched Virgin Atlantic Airways in 1984. The Virgin Group has since expanded to include V Australia, Virgin Blue and Virgin America as well as Virgin Atlantic Airways and the four airlines are working on offering full reciprocal mileage earning and redeeming privileges.

Currently, Flying Club members can earn miles on all three partner airlines but only redeem with V Australia. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has over 1.5 million members worldwide and the program offers them many opportunities to earn and redeem miles.



Flying Club members earn 50 percent of miles flown on the cheapest seats in Virgin Atlantic's economy class. While U.S.-based members are accustomed to earning 100 percent of miles flown even on deeply discounted economy fares, many international airlines don't give any miles or only 25 percent for discount economy, so a 50 percent earn rate is not out of the norm. Other economy fares earn a full 100 percent of miles flown and Premium Economy class will net between 125 and 150 percent, and travelers in Upper Class can expect a full 150 to 200 percent bonus.

Flying Club has many earning partners with which members can pad their mileage accounts, including hotels, car rentals, financial services, retailers and local partners.



Flying Club offers a variety of award choices, from free flights to hotel stays and car rentals.

Regular flight award levels are less than what you would need for U.S.-based programs. A flight from New York to London with Flying Club, for example, runs 45,000 miles in economy, 67,500 miles in Premium Economy (equivalent to business class) and 90,000 miles in Upper Class (first class). Compared to United/Continental, where flights are 60,000 miles in economy, 100,000 miles in business and 135,000 miles in first class, Flying Club members need fewer miles, but Flying Club charges a fuel surcharge. A roundtrip award from New York to London in Upper Class will cost about US$611 in taxes and fuel surcharges, in addition to the 90,000 miles. And when redeeming miles for awards on partner flights, members can't fly on more than one partner within a single award ticket.

Flying Club frequently offers award seat sales. For example, members can often find a roundtrip flight from London to New York in economy for only 29,500 miles instead of 45,000 miles--a discount of 34 percent.

Roundtrip upgrades from economy to Premium Economy are 20,000 miles, from Premium Economy to Upper Class are 40,000 miles and from economy to Upper Class are 60,000 miles. Roundtrip upgrades to and from Sydney are twice as many miles. To be eligible for a mileage upgrade, you must purchase a flight in a qualifying booking class, such as full-fare W, S, Y or B.

Companion award seats start at 20,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 30,000 miles roundtrip in Premium Economy and 65,000 miles roundtrip in Upper Class.

Flying Club also allows members to combine miles with cash for flights to select destinations. To redeem a Miles Plus Money award seat, members need at least 2,000 miles for an economy fare, 7,500 miles for a Premium Economy fare and 15,000 miles for an Upper Class fare. Members can also take advantage of CombiFares--a combination of a one-way Virgin Atlantic mileage award and any Premium Economy or economy fare (excluding Miles Plus Money fares and including W, S, K, Y, B, L, M, Q, X, N and O fares). Members can look for award availability in any cabin on either leg, and the half they'll pay for is a Premium Economy or economy fare, which is less than a usual one-way flight. Members earn miles and tier points on the leg of the journey they pay for.

You can also redeem your miles for hotel stays with Hilton HHonors or Gitcombe House. Hotel awards range from 93,000 to 125,000 miles for a two-night stay with Gitcombe House, and Flying Club members can exchange their miles into Hilton HHonors points at a ratio of 1:1 in increments of 5,000 miles with a minimum exchange of 10,000 miles.

Car rental awards can be had for between 12,500 and 55,000 miles with Stoutes Car Rental.

The Virgin Group offers a number of miscellaneous award options, including Virgin hot air balloon rides and a gym membership with Virgin Active. Members also have the option of redeeming two million miles for flights into sub-orbital space with Virgin Galactic, but only miles earned on Virgin Atlantic flights will qualify toward the two million miles.



Virgin Atlantic is not part of one of the three global alliances, but offers partnerships with a large number of airlines, including Air China, Air Jamaica, Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, bmi, Continental Airlines, Gulf Air, Hawaiian Airlines, Jet Airways, Malaysia Airlines, SAS, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, US Airways, Virgin America, V Australia and Virgin Blue.

Virgin Atlantic offers co-branded credit cards to members residing in the U.K. and U.S. The Virgin Atlantic American Express card from MBNA is available to U.K. members. There are two versions of the card. The no annual fee White Card comes with a 3,000-mile sign-up bonus, an upgrade to Premium Economy when booking an economy award if you spend #10,000 in a year, a 10 percent discount on Virgin Holidays packages and one mile earned per #1 spent. The Black card has a #115 annual fee and comes with a 6,000-mile sign-up bonus, a Premium Economy upgrade when spending #5,000 per year and two miles per #1 spent.

The Virgin Atlantic American Express Card from Bank of America is offered to members in the U.S. The Black Card has a US$90 annual fee and comes with 20,000 bonus miles after first purchase, up to 15,000 bonus miles each year, one tier point per $2,500 in purchases (up to two tier points per month), three miles per dollar spent on Virgin Atlantic and 1.5 miles per dollar spent elsewhere.

The white version has a US$49 annual fee and comes with a 12,500-mile sign up bonus, up to 7,500 bonus miles each year, a 50 percent discount on a companion award when you spend US$25,000 per year, one mile earned per dollar spent and three miles per dollar spent on Virgin Atlantic.

Flying Club also partners with American Express and Diners Club. Membership Rewards points and Club Rewards points convert into Flying Club miles at a 1:1 ratio.

Hotel partners include Blakes Hotel, Hilton, Hyatt, Mandarin Oriental, Marriott, Millennium & Copthorne, Morgan's Hotel Group, Radisson, Shangri-La, Starwood and Taj, among others. Earn rates vary by hotel but generally conform to the standard one to two miles per dollar spent; 250 to 500 miles per stay.

Flying Club members can earn miles with car rental partners Avis (500-1,000 miles per rental), Hertz (500-1,000 miles per rental), Alamo (1,000 miles per rental) and Sixt (500 miles per rental). The earning rates for car rentals are much higher than many programs, with most offering only 50 miles per day.

Members of BAA WorldPoints can earn WorldPoints for shopping at participating airport shops and 500 WorldPoints can be exchanged for 500 Flying Club miles.

Members can also earn miles with Virgin Group companies such as Virgin Holidays, Virgin Wines, Virgin Holidays Cruises and Virgin Games.

Virgin Atlantic also has a number of local partners with which members can earn miles.



Status is determined by tier points, which are earned based on the airline and type of fare. Generally, a one-way flight on Virgin Atlantic will earn two tier points in economy, three tier points in Premium Economy and five tier points in Upper Class. Members can also earn tier points with partner airlines, although the amount will vary depending on the partner and length of the flight. For example, most partner airline flights earn no tier points if the flight is under 2,000 miles and one tier point if over 2,000 miles; and one tier point in business and first class if the flight is under 2,000 miles and two tier points for flights over 2,000 miles.

To reach Silver level, you'll need 15 tier points in a 12-month period; and you'll need to earn 10 points within the next 12 months to retain that status. Silver level offers members a 25 percent flight bonus, Premium Economy check in, priority waitlisting, discounted parking at Heathrow and Gatwick, four complimentary first class upgrade vouchers for Gatwick Express and Heathrow Express and complimentary Regus Businessworld Gold membership.

Gold level requires 40 tier points; 30 tier points within the next 12 months to retain that status. Gold members receive Upper Class check in and priority boarding, access to Virgin Clubhouses for you and a guest, access to the bmi business lounge at London Heathrow, parking discounts and an extra 50 percent of miles flown. Other benefits include an extra 23kg baggage allowance; 10 complimentary first class upgrade vouchers for Gatwick Express and Heathrow Express; a guaranteed economy seat on any Virgin flight, provided a full-fare ticket is purchased at least three days prior to departure; fast track through security and immigration; a supplementary Silver card to give to a family member and a Family Account, enabling up to six members of your household aged 2 to 17 to earn miles that will be credited to your account.

Upon renewing their Gold membership each year, members receive one complimentary companion ticket. Gold members also receive some benefits on partner airlines, such as priority boarding, baggage handling and standby.



Miles don't expire as long as you earn or redeem miles at least once every three years. Miles cannot be earned on award or reduced-rate tickets, including Miles Plus Money tickets. Miles cannot be transferred or pooled except through the Family Account.

Award ticket changes that involve the travel date, route or class of service are subject to a handling charge of #25 in the U.K. or US$50 for changes in other regions. If award travel is cancelled up to seven days before travel, a cancellation fee of #30 or US$50 will be assessed, and only 75 percent of miles will be refunded. No miles will be refunded for cancellations less than seven days prior to travel. Members can purchase a total of 30,000 miles per year in increments of 1,000 miles.



Flying Club members can contact the service center via telephone, email or mail and the program has service centers in locations worldwide. When we called the U.S. service center on a Wednesday afternoon, we were on hold for about seven minutes before we were connected with a customer service representative who was able to answer our question correctly and in a professional manner. There are separate phone numbers for Red, Silver and Gold members.



Online redemption for Virgin Atlantic flights is available but you will need to call reservations to book an award flight on a partner airline. Unlike most frequent flyer programs in the U.S., there is no fee to book partner awards over the phone.

Clearly listed under the "Offers and News" link, you'll find current bonus offers. You can claim missing miles from Virgin Atlantic flights online but for missing partner miles, you will either have to contact the partner directly or send in a missing miles form with the necessary documentation.

Flying Club has a wide array of award choices and the program frequently offers award sales where members can redeem fewer miles on select routes. Members can earn 1,000 miles per car rental and many members of other loyalty programs choose to bank their car rental mileage earning in Flying Club because of the high earning potential. Gold elite perks include lounge access and the ability to pool miles through a family account.

While Virgin Atlantic has so far avoided joining one of the airline alliances, Richard Branson has said he'll "seriously consider" launching a fourth airline alliance, but until then or until Virgin Atlantic joins one of the three global alliances, the program cannot offer the breadth of awards an alliance would bring. While Flying Club has a decent list of airline partners, members can't redeem miles for an itinerary that combines multiple partners, which is a definite limitation. And the fuel surcharge for award flights on Virgin Atlantic can tack on hundreds of pounds or dollars to an award ticket. Elite members do not receive complimentary upgrades.

In the U.K.:
flying club support
Virgin Atlantic Airways
The Office, Manor Royal
Crawley, West Sussex
RH10 9NU
Red - 08701 616059
Silver - 0845 0745678
Gold - 08000 721 234

In the U.S.:
Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd.
747 Belden Avenue
Norwalk, CT 06850
Red - (800) 365-9500
Silver - (800) 752-6859
Gold - (800) 898-7577

  Earning Ability Award Choices Partnerships Elite-Level Rules & Conditions Service Support Online Services Overall Rating
7.00 7.50 7.50 8.00 8.00 8.00 7.50 7.60
6.20 6.02 5.04 5.81 5.37 5.97 5.92 5.76

(94 ratings)


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