To start by saying i'm a frequent flier isn't exactly true, but i do fly the Heathrow to JFK route around 8 times a year. I usually start by looking on Kayak or Skyscanner for the best deals but in the end i'm always drawn back to Virgin Atlantic.
Price: Will always be competitive, never the lowest but always around that mark. For the service, times and overall quality of the flight it is worth the extra $10.
Service: Always an incredible customer service, i missed my flight once! (not my fault, i'm blaming megabus) But i called them up and explained the situation they were helpful and simply put me on the next available flight... as easy as that.
I have been delayed only twice, flying virgin in the nearly 26 flights i have taken with them, compared to some of the other popular airlines this is very very good.
If i could offer a word of advice, many of the transatlantic flights are bigger planes, virgin usually depending on time of flight has planes with a few rows of economy class, upstairs. This is heaven, fewer people quieter, quicker air hostess service. If you can prebook your seat always head for the upstairs.
Overall i rate Virgin as the best airline for UK to USA flights, i have experienced very few problems, and when i did have a problem it was taken care of immediately. They even give you a call every now and then the day before your flying to see if there is anything else they can do for you.
When your traveling you want a no hassle, reliable service and that is exactly what virgin gives you at such an incredibly great price.
We have flown Virgin Upper class a few times now mainly to Miami for cruises but also to New York. I hope we're pretty laid back as customers. When our flight to Miami had no in Flight entertainment we were handed a voucher for a few pounds compensation but we didn't bother to claim it, it's not how we work. The flight was on time and we spent the flight chatting to other passengers so it wasn't as though anyone had suffered. Oh how I wish I'd taken the cash off them now.
To set the scene we were cold called by the flying club a few weeks ago. "Hi there, how's it going, are you aware you've got X flying club miles, is there anything we can do for you and by the way are you aware the miles will evaporate eventually?" Well yes, as it happens we are because we've never actually managed to claim anything back of them in all the years we've flown Virgin. "But there is a solution" - take out our Virgin Atlantic MBNA credit card and not only will you not lose your miles you will also add to them with every pound you spend. Better yet do your local shopping via this website and you'll get even more points.
Now as it happens we have been looking for an air miles credit card because we spend quite a lot of money in the course of a year to the point where we should get 1 or 2 free upper class flights a year. We use our cards for convenience rather than credit paying them off every month so rates and so on aren't an issue. In fact such was our profile we were persuaded to pay £115 to take out their MBNA Virgin Atlantic black card. The icing on the cake was the salesman's promise that you have nothing to lose, you have your statutory cooling off period if you don't think it's right for you.
I did try to call the sales team back but the number they give you is only applicable to existing customers so you can't speak to anyone.
An email came through confirming our acceptance. There was a link to a webpage where you agreed to the terms and conditions which rather suspiciously becomes closed for ever once you have clicked I agree, so there is no way to go back and see what you have agreed to.
At this point I was surprised to see the credit card was in fact an American Express card. After a few days we had discovered the promise of doing our shopping for extra points was a hollow one because we couldn't access the Ocado site through it. Worse still lots of retailers refuse to take American Express cards, so there seemed little point in using it as a card to amass air miles because we couldn't do all our spending on it. It also threw out all the figures which made it worth paying the £115 for a black card.
A call to MBNA to cancel the card after a mere 11 successful purchases later we were told they were going to keep our £115. We hadn't even received our first bill! I felt sure this couldn't be right so ended up speaking to Dairmuid Morgan, the actual floor manager and he wasn't at all interested in our plight, just not letting go of our £115. He claimed Virgin Air miles had been credited to us. Our Virgin Air Miles account showed no such awards and we would gladly have refunded anything which had been paid.
Obviously I now understand why MBNA don't mention American Express once in their sales pitch, very underhand. As far as the Flying Club is concerned I've been penalised for flying Virgin Atlantic. You would have hoped the Virgin would have teamed up with someone with a few more morals than MBNA.
So how does it leave us (other than £115 down)? Well I'm not going to say we'll never fly Virgin again, if they are cheaper than BA's business class then we'll fly Virgin but there's no love there anymore. Certainly we wouldn't let the blighters off 3 compensation claims.
So be warned, if you are offered a Virgin Atlantic flitting club credit card it is not MBNA who operate it as they claim it is American Express and unfortunately there are a lot of businesses which don't take American Express so you won't be able to do all your spending on it and as such will have to kiss goodbye to lost air miles opportunities.
Avoid like the plague and take everything the MBNA salesman says with a huge pinch of salt.
I today had reason to phone Virgin Flying Club Customer Services with a query re our miles. My wife's miles were due to expire at the end of 2010 due to the fact that we have always booked out Virgin flights as one booking using my miles plus money account.
I anticipated a long wait talking to or answering questions fromm a computerised answerphone in fact I found this to be minimal before I was connected to a real person.
The customer services representative treated me with the greatest respect and consideration.
I would like to congratulate her and her supporting staff on the assistance I received. It was so nice to talk to a person who understood my issues and dealt with them professionally and to my complete satisfaction.
This one phone call will result in my wife and I to book further flights with Virgin even though their prices maybe higher than the competition.
Thank you, keep up your standards.
I've been a member of Virgin's Flying Club Red for a good few years now and I have enough points to fly all the way to NZ from the UK - if only I could! I mostly read good reviews online but my experience is far from good. I've tried to use my points so many times (hence why I have so many because I can't seem to spend them). I've looked at several destinations with plenty of notice and am always notified there are "no reward seats available". What's more the online system doesn't tell me when I can use them (I'm told by e-mail after I complained that it should) which means I then have to call the 0844 number which is 25p a minute and wait for a good 10 mins for someone to actually speak to and eventually they give me a date way in the future when I can use them. If I need to think about it I then have to call them back later to book, costing me as I can't book online. I should be able to do this online and yet I can't. Rubbish. What's the point of having loads of points if you can't spend them?
I have been a member of Virgin Atlantic's Flying Club since 2005. Since then, I have steadily accumulated miles, and then had no problem putting them towards flights to see friends and family across the world. This should not be such a rarity to be exalted, but amongst British airline carriers, unfortunately, it is!
I have frequent flying miles with British Airlines (stop snickering!) and was shocked when told that a trip to Hong Kong - which I had specifically BOUGHT miles for - would wipe out literally years' worths of miles AND the purchased miles AND still require 400 pounds of cash. Searching for flights on the website yielded fares which were equal to the amount of money I had paid for the miles + the additional 400 pounds. I was so turned off, I haven't flown BA since.
Another plus-side to Virgin is that they give you miles even if you are flying Economy Class - something which BA, last time I checked, doesn't deign to do!
I would join the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club for the miles alone - they're so generous, so RATIONAL, it really makes you want to weep!
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club - I joined Virgin Atlantic Flying Club around 4 years ago, basically you get miles for every flight you take with Virgin Atlantic, you can also earn miles with Virgin Atlantic partners - eg Hotel Groups like Hilton and now even through shopping websites even eBay. This makes quite a good range of places where you can earn miles. The downfall is that you need 75000 miles to get a longhaul premium economy trip for one person to eg Florida, Las Vegas, etc. If like me you only usually have one holiday a year then basically it is going to take you about 6 years to change your miles for a longhaul trip for one person, hence you still have to pay for your partner to fly! Also it appears quite hard to actually redeem your miles for a flight, when looking on the website there never seem to be very many dates available.
So is this a con in my opinion? Basically if you are using Virgin Atlantic then you might as well collect the miles because they are free to collect but if like me you only take one flight a year be prepared to wait for years to get a free flight!!!!!
My feelings about Virgin Atlantic Flying club are that they are a bunch of rubbish. Whenever you phone the club you are told that the dates you have chosen are not available for upgrades, (and that is a load of old rubbish.). When booking premium economy flights to Orlando in April of last year for October I was told that all upgrades were taken and that I needed to book at least ll months ahead to get the upgrades. So like a fool when my granddaughter in Florida ( who got married in October said that she wanter to come to England for her honeymoon I decided to phone ll months ahead to get upgrades from economy to premium economy with my miles. Of course when I phone I was told I was too early and should phone back in a week, which I did. Told the same old story and when I got very irate there was a long pause (obviously someone listening in) and told they could do another date in May for an upgrade. I booked the fares (£l350). Unfortunately my granddaughter is leaving her husband and I have tried to change the tickets over to my daughter and her other daughter but have come against this wall telling me it is a legal thing. What legal think? nobody knows. Will someone please tell me what this legal thing is.
I've been a member of Virgin Flying Club for a good few years, I'd say eight at least. Since I joined I've not paid full price for a flight with Virgin Atlantic.
You don't have to even fly with them now to earn points. Just sign up for a Virgin Atlantic credit card and you'll earn Flying Club miles each time you use the credit card.
Each time you do fly with Virgin Atlantic you'll earn Flying Club miles, the number gained depends on which class you fly and where you fly to.
You can also earn miles with Virgin Atlantic partners, including Dollar Rent a Car and Marriott hotels.
If you're a member of certain other loyalty reward schemes you can swap their points for VA Flying Club miles. These include American Express, Hilton HHonors, BAA, and e-Rewards.
Miles More Friends - recommend a friend to VA Flying Club, and if they fly VA you'll get some free FC miles.
If you want to boost your miles you can now purchase miles too.
Spending miles. This is the fun bit, and were it can get a bit complicated.
There are several different options when it comes to using your miles to pay for flights.
Miles plus money - This is where you use a number of miles for a ticket and also pay a certain amount. This isn't always good value, and I've seen reports of the price actually being more than the cost of a regular ticket, plus your miles on top of that.
Companion ticket - BOGOF! Basically buy one ticket and use your miles for the other one. This is good value, especially if you fly premium economy and manage to get a lower priced ticket.
Upgrades - Buy a ticket in one class and use your miles to upgrade to a higher class.
Buy ticket outright - If you have enough miles in your account you can use them to buy a ticket in any class.
If you have a Virgin Atlantic credit card and spend over a certain amount in a year (I think currently £15,000) you'll receive a free companion ticket that you can use on a VA flight. Same as the companion ticket using miles, but you don't use any miles, just the ticket.
There are numerous restrictions, the main one being there are only a limited number of reward seats made available on each flight, and sometimes there aren't any at all.
If you want to book a reward seat, call Virgin FC as soon as you can. If they don't have any reward seats available, keep calling back. Being flexible on dates helps your chances.
The last couple of times we've been to Orlando I've bought one PE ticket and used my VA credit card companion ticket to get another one free, just paying the applicable taxes.
Overall, it's well worth joining the Flying Club, whether you're a frequent flyer or someone who just flies once every two years. It's free to join and you may even earn enough miles to save money on your next flight.
I have been collecting virgin miles in the hope of using them to upgrade from premium economy to upper class on the London Montego Bay route. However it appears impossible to get a booking on that route no matter how much notice you give and how flexible you are with dates. What is the solution? Am I doing something wrong or is it just impossible to ever use miles for upgrades on that route?
I traveled with Virgin atlantic a couple of time in the last 3 years when we have visited orlando florida as when we booked we got the 10 % off the price due to me using the frequent flyer programme.
when you use the programme you will earn points when you fly with virgin you can even upgrade your seating if you wish if you want to redeam you loyalty points from being economay to upper class.
you will start at the red membership level where you will be given like a credit card with you name and your membership number on so you can take it when you go on virgin holidays or flights. after the red one you will go on to silver and then on to gold were you will earn more points and a higher standard of seating as well as hotel. since been with virign atlantic i have found there planes comfortable and the staff very good with there customer service skills. if i was going on one of there flights again i would go an upgrade of seating as the hot food and the seat back tv is out of this world and no plastic spoons in premier class.
me and my family went to florida and flew with virgin atlantic . Its the first time we flew as a family and we would not fly with anyone else . The flight and all the staff were all first class we were in econamy but were treated like we were royalty.I have already booked for next year and cant wait.My freinds who flew with another company airtours said they would not fly with them again and have booked to fly with virgin with us .
My wife and I flew for the first time with Virgin Premium Economy in November 2005, from Gatwick to Orlando.
We registered with Flying Club and were given a number which we passed to check in staff on both legs. Our booking told us we would qualify for sufficient air miles for a European flight.
Since then, nothing, no membership card, no correspondence - zilch!
We're trying to book a similar flight for October this year and thought it would be useful to chase our airmiles balance.
After e mail correspondence with several members of the 'Customer Care Team(sic)' we still have nothing.
Could this be because we live outside of the UK and are even excluded from Virgin's surveys about how well their Customer Care Team operates. Quite brusquely too - 'We only want to hear from flyers in UK and USA' - even though all of our flights are from UK airports!
Come on Sir Richard, never mind starring in a James Bond movie - try being a star to your customers.
My last fight to the USA was with Virgin Atlantic and I noticed it was one of the very few airlines I've flown with, yet never joined their frequent flyer programme (I collect miles with American Airlines, Air Berlin, British Airways and Lufthansa who are part of the Star Alliance and therefore cover United)
To rectify this oversight I joined up, online, via the Virgin Atlantic website. You enter all the necessary information, name, address, date of birth, etc. and once the process is complete you are given a frequent flyer membership number. You can enter that number for every Virgin flight you book, either directly with Virgin or with other companies.
We had booked with expedia online and after adding the new membership number on their website via a drop down menu, it was immediately added to the flight with Virgin that I had to my name.
One of the rules is that you can only collect frequent flyer miles for yourself and not others even if they are flying with you.
When checking in at Gatwick airport the frequent flyer number was printed directly onto the boarding pass, something that was pointed out to me by the staff, they even went so far as to underline the number - as if I hadn't noticed.
Anyway, like most loyalty programmes there are some rules and regulations you have to take into account when you collect miles.
The registration is only complete once you return from your first qualifying flight with Virgin when you are sent a proper credit card size membership card together with a welcome pack. Normally that takes about 28 days, mine took longer as there was more time between booking the flight and the actual completion of the same.
When you receive your card and welcome pack you will find that you are now classed a VIP or in Virgin terms, Very Important Passenger. I will get back to that a little later.
So, what can you expect once you are a member with your shiny new (or matt in this case) card?
As with all frequent flyer programmes, you are rewarded with airmiles when you use the airline or one of their participating partners. Normally you earn 100% of miles flown for economy flights, the percentage will go up for premium economy, business class and first class. The more qualifying flights to have the quicker you will be in line for upgrades and flights.
Miles will never expire as long as you earn or spend miles at least once in three years.
With Virgin you earn miles for flying on their flights but also for Delta Airlines, Air Jamaica, Continental Airlines and Malaysia Airlines to name but a few.
You can also earn miles by booking into certain hotels (Hilton, Le Meridien, Mandarin Oriental, Savoy Group and more), car rental, credit cards and also other Virgin Group companies. The more you spend with all those the quicker you will get your rewards.
Of course if you are booking a Virgin Holiday, tell them your flying club membership number and you can get up to 10% off the holiday. I'm sorry but having compared Virgin Holidays with online travel sites like Expedia, even if you should get the 10% off, their price is still much higher than that of Expedia. Trust me, I have tried to get a cheaper holiday with Virgin and it wasn't possible. Expedia always came up trumps.
As an added bonus you will receive money off for airport parking (5% at BCP for red members), big deal I say. Those car parks are overpriced anyway and it's often much cheaper to park elsewhere or use public transport.
There are two different counting systems for frequent flyers with Virgin. Of course there are the frequent flyer miles. They will pile up when you book qualifying flights.
Then there's also a rather strange tier system. Each qualifying flight also gives you tier points. These are used to elevate you to the next level of VIP (Very Important Passenger) because according to Virgin "Red means Go" and is only the beginning of your journey through the class system.
The next step up is the Silver Level. You need 15 tier points to advance from Red to Silver. If you count 2 tier point per one way flight in economy it can take you a while to get there. Of course, if you fly Upper Class on a qualifying flight you will receive 5 tier points per one way flight. To advance from Silver to Gold status you need 40 tier points, just in case you were interested to know.
The class system is dead, long live the Virgin "I'm better than you" class system.
Of course, the higher in the pecking order you are the more free stuff you can expect. If you have a gold card you can check in at the upper class desks regardless of the class flight you are taking, use the airline lounge, get upgrade vouchers for the Heathrow or Gatwick Express and so on.
My experience with Virgin Flying Club
Remember when I mentioned that you only get your membership card sent when you had a qualifying flight? Well, that's what I thought when my package and card arrived.
My boarding card told me that my class was "Y" and the booklet and online miles table show, I was due 13060 miles for my return flight to Las Vegas. What a nice surprise, I thought.
How wrong was I?
After getting all excited about the 13000+ miles I had already amassed on my flight I went online to check my balance. And to my utter surprise the balance was a BIG FAT ZERO. I checked the statement. Yes, the Las Vegas flight was on there and suddenly it was a non-qualifying flight.
I sent an email to their customer service address querying the strange discrepancy. I never receive a confirmation that my email was received. I never received an answer to my email.
According to their website, all email enquiries are answered within 48 hours. I gave them until after the weekend and resent the email, this time to frequent flyer miles and the normal customer service. Again, my emails were ignored.
On Friday I decided to try one last time via email and at the same time try their telephone number. You should know, the lower down in the pecking order you are for frequent flyer miles, the more expensive your call will be.
Those with a Red card need to call a national 0870 number, Silver can use a local 0845 number while Gold members - who are most likely the ones who can afford the call charge - are given a free 0800 number. Isn't it great how much Virgin value the little people. Remember? According to their welcome pack you are a VIP - even in Red. Ha, VIP my a***.
It will take approximately 15 minutes before someone bothers to answer the phone. By that time you have either given up the will to live thanks to the hard sell, music and fluffy voice over while on hold, or you have put the phone down in disgust.
My second attempt at calling finally got me through to someone. I told them about the online statement saying that I was on a non-qualifying flight. And the woman on the phone sounded like she couldn't be bothered. She checked my frequent flyer number and announced that my flight was discounted and therefore non-qualifying for miles, it was in class N.
Neither my e-ticket - nor the confirmation or any other correspondence I had from Virgin regarding my flight - told me the actual class I was travelling in.
What Virgin DO NOT tell you, because their ground (check-in) staff are possibly of limited intelligence they have only ever used three of the available classifications. For example, while you can have a seat in Economy Class M, N, Q, V, X, Y, B or L your boarding pass apparently will ALWAYS say Class Y (which is a full price ticket and gives you - until the end of this month 125% of miles flown, 100% after that). The same will be true for Premium Economy and Upper Class. How you are supposed to know if and when your flight is eligible for frequent flyer miles is therefore a lottery.
Virgin's flight classifications are a total mess and you may think you are getting frequent flyer miles, you could end up with nothing. You are better off not signing up as their system is terribly flawed and knowing if and when you get miles is never easy.
Whatever happened to 'You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar'? The customer service are obviously so set in their ways, there is no flexibility and even mistakes made by them are not recognised and remedied.
How easy would it have been to admit their mistake that they shouldn't have sent me the membership card because I hadn't completed a qualifying flight and because it was their mistake they give me miles I thought I had? It would have been very easy. I would have walked away happy, probably never used the miles because I probably wouldn't have had a chance to fly Virgin on a qualifying flight and the miles would have expired after three years. But I would have told everyone how nice Virgin had been and what a nice airline they are to fly with.
What they actually achieved is the total opposite. I have vowed never to use Virgin again - and knowing me, I will not use them again as their flight are usually most expensive. I am also telling everyone about my experience with Virgin frequent flyer miles.
It is obvious that people at Virgin do not know the simple math when it comes to customer satisfaction: a satisfied customer goes away and tells 3 people, an unhappy customer tells 20 who then tell 20 more and so on.
If you are really interested in joining the Virgin Flying Club please do so but do not expect any of your flights to qualify. If you have a lot of money and can afford the full fare flights you can earn your miles, otherwise, don't bother. As the boarding pass will never tell you the true classification of your flight, Virgin can call it whatever they want and get away with it.
I have also written a strongly worded letter to Virgin Headquarters that I will send off after the weekend. I will include my membership card and in no uncertain way did I tell them what I think of their operation. I am not expecting a reply. After all, they couldn't be bothered to answer any of my three emails and were so cold and unsympathetic on the phone that I actually put the phone down on them.
However, I will mention this review in my letter and give them the link so they can read for themselves what I think of them.
According to Virgin I am a VIP. Of course I am. I'm Very Irate & P****d off.
Virgin Flying Club
Virgin Atlantic Airways
Flying Club red - 08701 61 60 59
Flying Club silver - 0845 07 45678
Flying Club gold - 08000 721 234
Opening Hours: 07.00 - 22.00 seven days a week.
www.virgin-atlantic.com and click on Frequent Flyer in the left hand side menu
I have been a member of Flying Club for four years, however I must point out that I am not what you would call a "frequent traveller", just your average flyer who takes about 4 long haul and 10 short haul flights per year (all at my own expense - no company expense account here!). Virgin have three levels, Red, Silver and Gold. I am currently a Silver member of the Flying Club (shortly to be downgraded to Red!). Red and Silver don't really get many benefits. However with the Gold card you do get lounge access and a few other minor beneifts. Gold membership requires 7 round trip Upper Class flights in a 12 month period, Silver requires 3 Premium Economy Round Trips or 5 Economy Round Trips. Red membership is open to all. I find that I can collect points with my American Express Card, stays at Hilton Hotels and when flying BMI and of course when Flying Virgin. There are many other hotel and air partners offers points and these tend to be in all parts of the world, so you should be able to find a Flying Club partner no matter where you end up. Examples of earning miles include: Flying London to New York Economy (Round Trip) 6,000 points Flying London to Los Angeles Premium Economy (Round Trip) 16,000 points One Night in Hilton Hotel 1,000 points £1 spent on American Express 1 point Where you can really earn miles fast is by introducing other people to the flying club. Get someone to join then take a Virgin Flight and you can earn between 3,000 and 15,000 miles (depending on what class they fly in). Examples of Spending Miles include: Economy Flight London to New York (Round Trip) 40,000 points Premium Economy to Upper Class Upgrade (One Way) 25,000 points Points can also be transferred to Hilton Honours and other air and hotel partners. Communications from the Flying Club team are good, with regular emails/mail shots advising of s
pecial offers, competitions are extra point earning opportunities. In comparison to other AirMiles schemes, I think Virgin are much more generous - offering points on most flights, not just full fares. Upgrades and companion tickets can be gained after just a few flights, especially if you are collecting points with partners at the same time. In summary, I think the Virgin scheme is very generous, easy to understand and worth taking taking the trouble to enrol in. And of course if anyone is thinking of flying Virgin in the near future and wishes me to nominate them for Flying Club membership, thus boosting my own points tally, i would be more than welcome!!!
I have been a member of Freeway/Flying Club since 1995. I started at Silver (because someone kindly paid for me to fly in Upper Class on my first trip), and managed to get gold status for a year due to regular flights in Premium Economy. They have recently changed the rules, and you cannot keep your silver status indefinitely - you now have to earn 10 "tier points" each year to qualify. I complained about this and they said they will take your past history into account, but I'll have to wait and see whether they mean it. I also complained that I haven't got any real benefit from my silver status, but (coincidentally?) they upgraded myself, my wife and our son on my next trip to Upper Class (one way only, though). My first ever upgrade, and much appreciated on a 12 hour flight! To be fair, they are currently offering access to the Servisair lounge at Heathrow to silver card holders flying Premium Economy, but that is only until 31 October 2002. Not as good as the Virgin lounge but better than nothing. Gold status gives you access to the Virgin departure lounges (not the arrivals lounge) if you fly in Economy or Premium Economy, but not much else. However, the miles are really worth having. So far I have used miles for two first-class tickets London-Paris on Eurostar, two companion tickets HK-London-HK, and two upgrades from Premium Economy to Upper Class. Even better, they now let you use the lounges when you redeem miles to upgrade to Upper Class. If you fly regularly you can build up miles quickly, and Virgin sometimes do offers which give you bonus miles. It certainly makes me choose Virgin over the alternatives!