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How to upgrade your next Virgin Atlantic flight with Virgin points

June 07, 2022
7 min read
Virgin Atlantic planes parked at the gate in Manchester airport
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There are plenty of different ways to use your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points — most notably, for reward flights. However, sometimes you can get the best value from those points 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 — Economy Classic or Economy Delight to Premium, or Premium to Upper Class — or you can upgrade two classes — from Economy Classic or Economy Delight to Upper Class. Virgin Atlantic does not offer first-class fares.

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 program compared with British Airways Executive Club, which only allows you to upgrade one class with Avios.

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

To understand what fare code your ticket is, read our guide here. Fortunately, you can upgrade almost all Premium fares to Upper Class (W, S or H code fares). 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 for the higher class to which you are upgrading.

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.

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Some show availability for upgrades and redemptions together, while others show availability for just redemptions or just upgrades. Virgin Atlantic’s availability is simple. 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 usually release some additional redemption and upgrade availability at the last minute, so if there are no upgrades available when you first search, it can be worth checking again a few days before the flight departs. You can try and upgrade anytime after booking, but you must do it prior to check-in — don’t wait until you're at 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 upgrades 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 traveling on a standard or peak date. The dates for 2022 are as follows:

Standard dates

  • Jan. 6-March 31.
  • April 26-May 29.
  • June 6-17.
  • Sept. 5-Oct. 20.
  • Nov. 2-Dec. 9.

Caribbean standard dates

  • March 7-April 6.
  • April 27-May 29.
  • June 6-July 15.
  • Sept. 5-Oct. 20.
  • Nov. 2-Dec. 9.

Peak dates

  • Jan. 1-5.
  • April 1-25.
  • May 30-June 5.
  • June 18-Sept. 4.
  • Oct. 21-Nov. 1.
  • Dec. 10-Dec. 31.

Caribbean peak dates

  • Jan. 1-March 6.
  • April 7-26.
  • May 30-June 5.
  • June 16-Sept. 4.
  • Oct. 21-Nov. 1.
  • Dec. 10-31.

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

Given Virgin Atlantic’s fairly small route network, the carrier offers a handy chart to show how many miles you’ll need to upgrade classes on both standard and peak dates.

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

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

If your upgraded class has higher taxes and fees, you will have to pay this at the time of upgrading, in addition to the Flying Club points. This is important to note because, for flights in premium classes, the luxury Air Passenger Duty is payable. This can increase the cost of the redemption by hundreds of dollars per passenger. Make sure to pay with a credit card that earns bonus points on airfare, like The Platinum Card® from American Express, which earns 5 points per dollar on airfare booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year).

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 800-862-8621, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays or 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.

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

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
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  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023