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Virgin Atlantic has joined the slew of major airlines that have recently overhauled their frequent flyer programs. Unfortunately, with the company moving to a more revenue-focused program, there is little good news in the overhaul of Flying Club for economy travelers.
What is changing with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club?
With a new focus on rewarding travelers in the premium cabins, miles have become harder to earn. Lower tier cabins will earn less miles per flight, while those in premium cabins will earn more miles per flight.
What About Elite Member Earning?
For Silver and Gold members things are not looking much better either, with the bonus miles earned being cut from 50% and 100% to 30% and 50% respectively. Earning tier status has also become more difficult for travelers in lower fare economy cabins. To earn Silver status, the cost has gone up from 4 round trips at the lowest fares to 8 round trips. Things are not improved for the Gold status, with the requirement going up from 10 to 20 round trips.
Who benefits from these changes?
The only travelers who will benefit from the new system are those flying upper class with the highest fare classes. These passengers have seen their requirements to earn Silver status drop from 2 round trips to 1, and to earn Gold they now only need to take 3 round trips rather than the 4 previously needed.
So are there any real benefits to the everyday leisure traveler?
On a more positive note for travelers, the award tickets prices in miles have fallen with the introduction of peak and off-peak times. Previously, a round trip from London to New York would have cost 35,000 miles, now depending on the time of year it’s either 20,000 or 40,000 miles. Needless to say, this is good news for some travelers, although the lesser miles needed for award tickets are more than offset by the fact that miles have become harder to earn for most passengers.
A welcome addition to the program, especially for families who travel together regularly, is the introduction of family pooling of miles. This is the biggest positive change in the new system.
In the end, not much good
Overall the changes to the Flying Club will be disappointing to most travelers. With Virgin joining the recent industry trend skewing frequent flyer programs in favor of the highest paying travelers, and making it much harder for lower fare travelers to earn status and enjoy the benefits of frequent flyer programs.
If you’re a regular business traveler who sits in premium fare seats the changes are a great positive, for the rest, it’s not such a great day!
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