Virgin Atlantic Flying Club - Virgin Rewards Seats and MBNA Credit Cards
Mar 25, 12, 10:22 am
For many years I have been a loyal Virgin Atlantic flyer and will always use them as first choice even if they are not the cheapest if flights are available.
A couple of years ago I thought it would be good to also align my credit card and started to use the MBNA card. I chose the white card with a view to moving across to the black card if it worked out.
The issue I have is that I feel it is almost impossible to use any rewards you get.
For instance assume you are new to Virgin and start your mileage program when you take out the card.
You spend £25,000 in a single year. This accrues about 25,000 miles in airmiles and you get gifted 2 premium upgrades and a companion seat. How can you use these?
You dont have enough miles to buy a ticket so will need to fund the rest I assume by buying more miles. This itself sounds counterintuitive (i.e is not a reward).
So has anyone ever been able to figure out how you can use the rewards you are gifted each year or is this simply a scheme/loyalty program that has been designed without much thought.
I have asked the customer relations team at Virgin if they have any statistics on what % of rewards they offer actually are ever used but they have not come back to me (and I dont expect them to).
If anyone has any views on how you can optimally use the rewards I would be very keen to hear your thoughts.
Such programs in my view should be regulated. I could have been one of these suckers who spends £140 a year on black membership only to find myself in the same position.
I eagerly await any comments.
Mar 25, 12, 10:48 am
Welcome to Flyertalk.
Your post asks a lot of questions, and I am not sure I understand your complaints. Are saying you are a loyal Virgin Atlantic flyer but the only Flying Club points you have are the ones from your Credit Card? :confused:
IMHO points accrued through credit card spends supplement those earned by flying and other methods.
If you are relying on them entirely, then it is difficult to see how you can moan too much if their frequent flyer reward scheme isn't too generous towards you.
You haven't said where, when and in which class you are looking to book your reward seats.
There are numerous threads on here and V-Flyer about the futility of booking any reward in economy, given the £300+ taxes and fees you still have to pay for your seat. This is slightly alleviated if you use the Amex PE upgrade voucher, but still the maths very often show poor value for money.
There are lots of threads with tips for booking UC rewards - they can be summed by saying - be flexible, be patient and be persistent.
Try to avoid the LGW holiday flights, especially during school holidays.
If you want to go to the popular holiday destinations - look at alternative routes eg go to Orlando via MIA or New York. For Vegas look at going via LAX or SFO then connect with VX or one of the other LCCs.
Mar 25, 12, 10:59 am
To use the companion you need to buy one of the more expensive fare tickets - these are generally not good value. For example it is possible to buy 2*'Z' bucket UC tickets that it is 1*J bucket
To use the uopgrade award you need to get a Y reward seat - to redeem these you need to phone VS
VS won't tell you how many reward seats they offer - this is commercial in confidence information but rewards will vary for each cabin, for each route and each day. It is well recognised for example that getting a UC reward on the MCO route in the summer holidays is very difficult (popular route not many UC seats) whereas a reward to NYC is 'easier' - more flights per day. Personally I have always got a reward seat when I want one - you do need to be a little flexible though - travel midwekk rather than a weekend, avoid popular holiday times etc.
Miles programmes are very carefully designed by the airlines - for their benefit - but they are designed to encourage long term loyalty.
Spending £25k per annum on the card is a lot of money (well to me it is bt probbaly not to others!) but you need to be flying as well to boost your miles. If you want to be a miles whore consider getting the AMEX gold card which offers (I think) 20k bonus miles in the first year as well as spend miles - collect these and then move them over to VS.
Mar 25, 12, 11:03 am
Hi Nick - thanks for the quick response and sorry for any confusion.
My question was based on if you started out with zero points then the offer of reward seats does not make sense as you cannot accrue enough miles in a calender year to use them.
Your point makes sense. The card is useful to anyone who is also accruing miles from say business trips etc. So if you have another stream of miles then you may be able to use those against the reward seats.
As a result I would not recommend to anyone who does not have another stream of miles such cards like this as the benefits you accrue are useless and as a result you are better off getting a cashback card where you can use the cash.
Mar 25, 12, 11:11 am
I only accrued from leisure trips (2x a year) and my white card so it took me some years to accrue enough miles to build up a balance to get a UC reward but it got VS what they wanted - a long term customer.
Mar 25, 12, 12:28 pm
I have two points / views on this -
1 - The companion flights are worthless, every time I have tried to use them, it has worked out cheaper to buy 2 cheap / sale fares instead of one at full price then the taxes on the companion, these should either be scrapped or changed.
2 - The upgrades are great, I use the white card on online shopping (also double miles at xmas) to buy everything from holidays to ebay, I also use it at tesco 600 points for every £2.50 in clubcard vouchers. So I accumulate the miles very easily for my upgrades.
Mar 25, 12, 12:54 pm
I have two points / views on this -
1 - The companion flights are worthless,.........
I would qualify this to 'mostly worthless'
They have been known to offer value for money on certain PE seats - especially to South Africa; and for some last minute trips, when the cheaper buckets, that require advance booking, are gone.
The other time they come into their own is when someone else - usually an employer- is paying for a fully flexible J and you can get a companion ticket tacked on. :cool:
I agree though that, in general, they are worthless marketing hype intended to draw in new customers who don' t realise until it is too late; that it is nearly always cheaper to buy two points earning tickets than use the voucher. :td::td: