How to upgrade your next Virgin Atlantic flight with Virgin Points

Jan 12, 2022

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There are plenty of different ways to use your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Points — most notably, for reward flights. However, some of the best value you can get from those miles is by upgrading a flight.

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Eligible flights

You can upgrade your flight operated by Virgin Atlantic, subject to award availability in the class you wish to upgrade to. You can upgrade either one class only — Economy Classic or Delight to Premium, or Premium to Upper Class — or you can upgrade two classes — from Economy Classic or Delight to Upper Class. Virgin Atlantic does not operate first class.

Related: Lofty heights: A review of Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class Suite on the A350 from London to New York

This is a real strength of the Flying Club programme compared with British Airways Executive Club who only allow you to upgrade one class with Avios.

The very cheapest Economy Light and Virgin Holidays V, N and O fare codes cannot be upgraded. So, your economy fare code must be the more expensive Classic or Delight Y, B, R, L, U, M, E, Q or X codes.

To understand what fare code your ticket is, read our guide here. Fortunately, almost all Premium class fares can be upgraded to Upper Class  — these are W, S or H code fares. Unfortunately, K fares are ineligible for upgrades.

You will still earn Virgin Points and Flying Club Tier Points for the revenue fare class you paid for, but not the higher class for which you are using miles to upgrade.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class. (Photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy)

Finding availability

Each airline manages its upgrades differently. Some allow upgrades at the time of booking, while others process them at the absolute last minute based on seats they would not be able to sell. Some show availability for upgrades and redemptions together, while others show availability for just redemptions or just upgrades. Virgin Atlantic’s availability is simple — if perhaps frustrating. The seats available for upgrades must also be available for a straight Virgin Points reward redemption.

This makes searching for upgrade availability easy because it’s the same as searching for reward availability. At the same time, you may find that the upgraded seat in a premium cabin you are looking for has already been taken by someone else as a full redemption.

Virgin Atlantic does often release some additional redemption/upgrade availability at the last minute, so if there are no upgrades with Flying Club available when you first search, it can be worth checking again in the few days before the flight departs. You can try and upgrade at any time from booking, but you must do it prior to check-in — don’t wait until the airport or boarding gate.

For scenarios like this, ExpertFlyer (owned by TPG’s parent company Red Ventures) is an incredibly useful tool. With a subscription, you can set alerts for upgrade or redemption space. If space does open up, ExpertFlyer will send you an email right away so you can log in to book the newly available seat.

Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class. (Photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy)

Cost

The number of Virgin Points required to upgrade your flight depends on whether you are travelling on a standard, or peak date. These dates for 2022 are as follows:

Standard dates

  • 6 January – 31 March 2022
  • 26 April – 29 May 2022
  • 6 – 17 June 2022
  • 5 September – 20 October 2022
  • 2 November – 9 December 2022

Caribbean standard dates

  • 7 March – 6 April 2022
  • 27 April – 29 May 2022
  • 6 June – 15 July 2022
  • 5 September – 20 October 2022
  • 2 November – 9 December 2022

Peak dates

  • 1 – 5 January 2022
  • 1 – 25 April 2022
  • 30 May – 5 June 2022
  • 18 June – 4 September 2022
  • 21 October – 1 November 2022
  • 10 December – 31 December 2022

Caribbean peak dates

  • 1 January – 6 March 2022
  • 7 – 26 April 2022
  • 30 May – 5 June 2022
  • 16 June – 4 September 2022
  • 21 October – 1 November 2022
  • 10 – 31 December 2022

Related: Premium, upgraded: A review of Virgin Atlantic’s new Premium product on the A350

Given Virgin Atlantic’s fairly small route network, it has published a handy chart to make it easy to understand how many miles you’ll need to upgrade on both standard and peak dates.

Standard dates upgrade cost (round trip, per person listed in Virgin Points)

To/from UK Economy Classic or Delight to Premium Premium to Upper Class Economy Classic or Delight to Upper Class
Israel 16,000 28,000 42,000
India 17,400 37,400 56,200
Pakistan 17,400 37,400 56,200
USA – Northeast (Boston, Newark, New York JFK, Washington DC) 17,400 47,400 71,200
Caribbean 17,400 57,400 86,200
USA – Midwest & South (Atlanta, Miami, Orlando) 22,400 47,400 71,200
Nigeria, China and Hong Kong 22,400 57,400 86,200
South Africa 25,000 57,400 86,200
USA – West (Austin, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle) 27,400 67,400 101,200

 

Peak dates upgrade cost (round trip, per person listed in Virgin Points)

To/from UK Economy Classic or Delight to Premium Premium to Upper Class Economy Classic or Delight to Upper Class
Israel 20,000 33,000 49,500
India 27,400 47,400 71,200
Pakistan 27,400 47,400 71,200
USA – Northeast (Boston, Newark, New York JFK, Washington DC) 27,400 57,400 86,200
Caribbean 27,400 67,400 101,200
USA – Midwest & South (Atlanta, Miami, Orlando) 32,400 57,400 86,200
Nigeria, China and Hong Kong 32,400 67,400 101,200
South Africa 42,400 67,400 101,200
USA – West (Austin, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle) 37,400 77,400 116,200

 

Where your upgraded class has higher taxes and fees, you will have to pay this at the time of upgrading, as well as the additional Flying Club miles. This is important to note, because for flights in premium classes, the luxury Air Passenger Duty is payable, and this can increase the cost of the redemption by hundreds of pounds per passenger.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy. (Photo by Ben Smithson / The Points Guy)

How to book your upgrade

Many airlines allow upgrades online at any time. Flying Club upgrades can only be booked by calling 0344 412 2415, from 7am to 10pm weekdays or 7am to 6pm on weekends.

Upgrades must be processed no later than the day before departure.

Featured photo by Daniel Ross / The Points Guy.

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