Virgin Atlantic Adds Award Seat Guarantee

Virgin Atlantic Adds Award Seat Guarantee

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The Virgin Atlantic Flying Club program has just revealed a couple of very nice improvements when it comes to award availability.

Virgin Atlantic guarantees 12 award seats per flight

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club will guarantee a minimum of 12 award seats per flight as soon as the schedule opens 331 days before departure. This applies to all Virgin Atlantic operated flights, and there will be no blackout dates, so this will apply even over peak travel periods.

That guarantee of 12 award seats is distributed as follows:

  • There will be at least two award seats in business class (Upper Class)
  • There will be at least two award seats in premium economy
  • There will be at least eight award seats in economy

Of course more award seats could be made available (either when the schedule opens or closer to departure), but this is a minimum guarantee. This new guarantee will go live as of June 29, 2022, and will apply for flights as of July 29, 2022 (though for flights within the next 331 days, it’s possible the minimum number of award seats has already been used up).

This is an awesome development, if you ask me. It’s always nice to know that your points can score you a seat on any plane, even during a peak period. With a benefit like this, it really is a function of setting your alarm and trying to be the first person to book 331 days before departure.

In fairness, though, Virgin Atlantic is only catching up here. British Airways Executive Club has offered an award seat guarantee for a long time. One area where Flying Club did seriously innovate is when it comes to counting award flights toward status, which you don’t see at many other programs.

Virgin Atlantic has added an award seat guarantee

Virgin Atlantic Gold members get last seat award availability

There’s another perk here that elite members will appreciate. Those with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold status will have access to last seat award availability, meaning any seat on the plane can be booked using Virgin points. There are some things to be aware of, though:

  • You’ll need to pay double the number of Virgin points usually required
  • You’ll need to book more than 60 days in advance
  • These can only be booked over the phone, so it’s not bookable directly online
  • The traveler must also be the Gold member, but they can take companions with them
  • You can use this benefit for up to eight sectors per year
  • This new policy applies as of June 29, 2022

This is also a nice new perk, especially in an era where many airlines are charging hundreds of thousands of points for premium cabin awards. Admittedly this comes with some major restrictions, though, the most significant of which is that you need to book at least 60 days in advance.

The value here would be greatest for awards booked closest to departure, but that’s not going to work here. Virgin Atlantic can manage inventory in a way that won’t make this benefit too costly to provide, given the booking timeline. It would be much more costly to the airline if someone booked the last business class seat with points two weeks before departure.

Virgin Atlantic Gold members can book any seat with double points

Bottom line

Virgin Atlantic has made a couple of nice improvements when it comes to redeeming Virgin points.

Virgin Atlantic is adding an award seat guarantee, meaning there will be a minimum of 12 award seats per flight, including two Upper Class award seats. Furthermore, Virgin Atlantic Gold members now get last seat award availability for double points, though with some major restrictions.

These are both solid improvements that should add significant value for Flying Club members.

What do you make of these Virgin Atlantic Flying Club changes?

Conversations (13)
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  1. G.Hatton Guest

    The only issue with using points for reward seats is that couples are not guaranteed to sit next to each other even though you have pre chosen your seats, paying customers take priority not loyal ones! First hand experience, twice on return flights MAN to JFK.

  2. Art_Czar Member

    @Ben - Could you please elaborate on your concluding statement - "It would be much more costly to the airline if someone booked the last business class seat with points two weeks before departure." Wouldn't the l"ast business class seat" on a given flight be valued the same by VS, no matter whether it sold 2 weeks or 2 months before departure?

    1. CSR 2.0 Guest

      No - prices typically rise close to departure and as inventory declines. The company can sell the last business class seat within 2 weeks of departure for probably 2-3X what it starts to sell them for 11 months out.

    2. Art_Czar Member

      If all but one business class seat have been sold 2 months out, then that last business class seat is already at 2x or 3x of the cost that VS would typically sell on a flight with 50%+ unsold business class inventory - even if that happens to be 2 days before the flight.

  3. khatl Guest

    Definitely great additions. Some sort of guarantee on award availability always welcomed even if hard to get (and does engender increased loyalty), v. others that never make them available, or charge a ridiculous number of points and show that the program is just a profit center. (BA's promise fell apart just before the pandemic; not sure if it returned).

    Btw, did the HT for TPG hurt a little?

    1. CSR 2.0 Guest

      hahaha that's hilarious. At least it was Nicky Kelvin with TPG UK. I don't mind him quite as much.

  4. AA70 Gold

    Is the value of their program compelling enough to book flights using their miles?

    1. Andrew Diamond

      Hasn't been for me. The only draw was ANA J/F... and that's not had appeal in years now.

      At some point, I'll probably spend all my VS points on air france flights.

  5. Sheila khurana Guest

    I have been unable to add my points even as a frequent flier with virgin atlantic. Even trying to call customer service for help is virtually impossible.

  6. Mark Ewing Guest

    I guess this is why delta's s**t IT systems haven't been showing any VS awards for the past few days or so...

  7. Chris Guest

    The big question is will all those guaranteed awards seats be bookable by other programs (i.e. Delta or ANA) or does it just apply to Flying Club members?

  8. Noa Guest

    Whats the best award program to use for a typical US (EastCoast / WestCoast) to Europe roundtrip on Virgin Atlanti?c

    1. khatl Guest

      Depends on what your miles vs surcharges threshold is, and also that Delta/AF/KLM regularly don't show Virgin availability even if Virgin does. I also wouldn't discount Delta and AF/KLMs own metal. Typically, lowest surcharges are Delta, then AF/KLM, then Virgin. Whenever you depart UK on any airline (except transit) or if you book with Virgin and fly Virgin to the UK, surcharges are high (if you want to go to UK, cheaper to fly to...

      Depends on what your miles vs surcharges threshold is, and also that Delta/AF/KLM regularly don't show Virgin availability even if Virgin does. I also wouldn't discount Delta and AF/KLMs own metal. Typically, lowest surcharges are Delta, then AF/KLM, then Virgin. Whenever you depart UK on any airline (except transit) or if you book with Virgin and fly Virgin to the UK, surcharges are high (if you want to go to UK, cheaper to fly to Europe then to UK eg AF 55k and ~$200 for biz to LHR thru CDG). Lowest miles, though variable, are AF/KLM, then Virgin then Delta.

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Chris Guest

The big question is will all those guaranteed awards seats be bookable by other programs (i.e. Delta or ANA) or does it just apply to Flying Club members?

3
G.Hatton Guest

The only issue with using points for reward seats is that couples are not guaranteed to sit next to each other even though you have pre chosen your seats, paying customers take priority not loyal ones! First hand experience, twice on return flights MAN to JFK.

0
Andrew Diamond

Hasn't been for me. The only draw was ANA J/F... and that's not had appeal in years now. At some point, I'll probably spend all my VS points on air france flights.

0
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