August 17, 2022

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?

(Tip of the hat to TPG)

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