Virgin Atlantic has been the first to jump (as I expected) and has extended the timeframe for Flying Club members customers to maintain their tier status and utilise their vouchers.
In recognition of the impact Covid-19 has had on its customers’ ability to travel, the airline is offering an extra three months for Gold and Silver members to maintain their tier status. This latest extension is in addition to the two x six months (12 months) validity the airline offered throughout 2020. It means in total all members will have been given an extra fifteen months to maintain tier status and redeem a host of benefits.
In addition to tier extensions, members across all tiers will have three extra months to use rewards such as Companion, Upgrade or Clubhouse vouchers.
To ensure its customers receive a seamless digital experience, the latest changes will be automatically applied to Flying Club members’ accounts by 12th March 2021. Customers will not need to call to update their status, as the airline is extending automatically. Members will be able to download or print their digital membership card from the Virgin Atlantic website or app.
Siobhan Fitzpatrick, Chief Digital and Marketing Officer at Virgin Atlantic, commented;
“We understand how important flexibility is to our customers as they navigate travel restrictions and make plans to travel in 2021 and beyond. When the scale of the pandemic became apparent last year, we instantly offered our customers an extra six months to maintain their tier status, followed by an additional six months later in the year. Following the Prime Minister’s update, which has given clarity on the UK’s roadmap out of restrictions, we’re pleased to offer a further three month validity to our Flying Club members for extra peace of mind.
“We’re looking forward to working with the Government’s Global Travel Taskforce to reopen the skies safely. Until then, our latest status update provides increased flexibility and reassurance, in anticipation of welcoming our customers on board again soon.”
Gold & Silver tier extension
Gold and silver members need to earn 1000 tier points (Gold) and 400 tier points (Silver) to maintain their status for another year. These members will have an additional three months added to their membership year to ensure they have extra time to achieve the required tier points. Members can login to their Flying Club account online to see how many tier points they have and the new end date of their membership year and accounts will be updated by Friday 12 March 2021.
While this is good news, this doesn’t feel enough to me. Currently, my status is due to expire at the end of October. Another 3 months will be January 2022. If leisure flying doesn’t start until 17 May and many Virgin routes could still be closed, I have very little hope of maintaining status this year in 8 months of flying.
Flying Club members earn various rewards throughout the year and for those that are valid as of 13th March 2020, you will have an additional three months for customers to redeem them which will show in members accounts by Friday 12th March 2021. If you want to find out how you can earn upgrades and companion vouchers, have a read of our article here.
Last week, Virgin Atlantic also introduced unlimited free date and flight changes for new bookings as part of a series of enhancements to give further flexibility to customers and support their future travel plans. Alongside the improved changes policy, the rebooking horizon has been extended for all customers all the way until 30 April 2023, giving a broader window of time to reschedule plans if needed.
Will BA follow?
Traditionally BA has been one of the last to move on status extensions, seeing what the market does first. However, even though Virgin originally gave six months extra, BA offered a full year to all but one unlucky group of people. I think it is highly likely we will see a move from BA in the near future given the current situation. With the outlook much brighter for travel, I would be surprised if it is a full year. I would expect them to either offer something like 6 months, or more likely a further reduction in tier points needed. This could be tailored to your expiry date as this was the situation initially last year.
Hopefully, I will be proved wrong and we will get a full year! I definitely picked the wrong time to qualify for Gold Guest List since I only got to use the Concorde Room once since qualifying a year ago!