TPG reader question: What’s going on with Virgin Atlantic Upper Class award availability to the Caribbean?

Jul 25, 2021

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Editor’s note: This article is part of a weekly column to answer your credit card, points and miles and general travel questions. If you would like to ask us a question, tweet us at @thepointsguyuk, message us on Facebook or email us at tips@thepointsguy.co.uk.


 

Award availability can come and go – many airlines will release seats that can be booked with points and miles as soon as the flights so on sale, and often will release extra award seats last minute to ensure there are as few empty seats when the flight departs as possible.

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We always advise being flexible and planning well in advance, especially if you are wanting to use your points and miles for a premium cabin, long-haul redemption. If you can do this, you should be able to use your points and miles the way you want to. But what happens when there’s no availability on any flights for the entire schedule?

Related: When should you book flights for next Christmas?

This brings us to this week’s reader question.

I wonder if you know why Virgin Atlantic are not releasing Premium and Upper Class reward seats in their Caribbean destinations in particular, only Economy reward seats?

Alan, TPG Reader

We’ve had a few readers contact us about this over the past month and at the time, sure enough, there were no Premium or Upper Class seats to book with Flying Club miles available to Virgin Atlantic Caribbean destinations. The flights were scheduled, as there was availability in Economy. This is not normal.

We asked Virgin at the time if there was some sort of glitch, or whether this was an intended restriction for Flying Club members. We didn’t receive an official position on this, but I’m pleased to share some positive news.

Related:

Premium and Upper Class award availability has returned to Caribbean routes operated by Virgin Atlantic.

I have SeatSpy alerts set up to monitor availability to both Barbados (BGI) and St Lucia (UVF) as I’m hoping to visit one or more of these for my birthday next year and I received alerts this week that seats had become available. Using the SeatSpy tool, I can see there are some Premium and Upper Class seats available to:

  • Antigua (ANU)
  • Barbados (BGI)
  • Grenada (GND) (very limited)
  • Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ)
  • St Vincent (SVD) (very limited)
  • Trinidad and Tobago (TAB) (very limited)

Availability isn’t there every flight, or every day which is to be expected. With so much uncertainty still for long-haul travel right now, I would expect schedules and frequencies to continue to be adjusted over the next 12 months.

Hopefully, with good vaccination rates in some Caribbean islands, there could be “fully-vaccinated travel bubbles” established between the U.K. and some islands with no quarantine or testing at either end.

Related: Royal Caribbean will launch cruises from Barbados for the first time

The good news is, for now, availability in Premium and Upper Class has returned to several Caribbean islands Virgin Atlantic fly to.

If you have Flying Club miles to use, it’s a good idea to redeem them as soon as you see availability on a flight that suits you, as this availability may disappear again.

Featured image by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy

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