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Under new management: Plaza Premium now running most Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses

July 19, 2021
4 min read
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse
Under new management: Plaza Premium now running most Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses
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Virgin Atlantic has handed over management duties of its famed Clubhouse airport lounges outside of the United Kingdom to independent operator Plaza Premium, which currently oversees 180 lounges at nearly 50 airports around the world. Given the great reputation Virgin Clubhouses have among travelers for their customer service as well as their food and beverage offerings, this could be a rather substantial change.

Related: Pelotons and planespotting: Inside the reopening of Virgin Atlantic’s Heathrow Terminal 3 and refreshed Clubhouse

And it starts today, with the reopening of the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at JFK airport in New York City. That lounge, which Virgin Atlantic Upper Class customers, Flying Club Gold members and Delta's Gold, Platinum, and Diamond Medallion members have access to, is now being operated by Plaza Premium.

The experience at the lounge has been adjusted to account for pandemic safety protocols. All guests are encouraged to remain seated and enjoy the table service offered by the Clubhouse staff.

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"Whilst customers will continue to enjoy the Clubhouse experience they know and love, the award-winning Plaza Premium group will bring a wealth of experience to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse offering," Virgin Atlantic said in a statement addressing the new partnership.

Plaza Premium will also take over the management of all Virgin Clubhouses outside of the United Kingdom, such as the locations in Boston (BOS), San Francisco (SFO), Washington (IAD), and Johannesburg (JNB), once they reopen. The JFK lounge is the first U.S. Clubhouse to reopen since the pandemic. The airline's flagship lounge, the Clubhouse at Heathrow as well as others within the U.K., will continue to be directly overseen by Virgin Atlantic.

Virgin Atlantic and Plaza Premium announced they will also be teaming up to bring new lounges to other key hubs in the Virgin Atlantic travel network, but no specific timetable for new locations was given.

Anyone who has visited a Virgin Clubhouse knows they offer one of the best airport lounge experiences. The complimentary a la carte menu features five-star dining options, tapas, and afternoon tea, as well as a healthy selection of spirits, wine and sodas. Some of the breakfast offerings include eggs benedict, avocado on toast and a full English breakfast. Lunch and dinner can include everything from chicken tikka masala to a Beyond Burger for vegans.

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Related: Everything you need to know about the Priority Pass program

Will Plaza Premium taking over mean a reduction in the exceptional service that has made Virgin Clubhouses a favorite among travelers? Some industry observers suspect this new arrangement may be about Virgin trying to cut costs after enduring what it called the "most devastating year" in the company's history due to the coronavirus.

One possibility is that this could provide a new revenue stream for the airline, by offering paid entry to the lounges outside of Virgin Atlantic flight schedules, for passengers on other airlines. The Clubhouse in San Francisco International has been available to Priority Pass members during off-peak hours since 2019, so it's not uncharted territory for Virgin. It should be noted that the San Francisco Clubhouse, when it was open, offered a much severely pared-back range of food and drinks for people who used Priority Pass to get in, so they should not expect the full Clubhouse experience.

The other Clubhouses are only open at certain hours of the day, based on Virgin's flights. For example, the JFK Clubhouse is open from 5 am to 8:30 am, and also from 3 pm to 5:30 pm. There are lots of openings in between there to let in paying customers looking to unwind in a lounge before they board their flight.

The challenge will be if Plaza Premium can do that and maintain the high levels of customer service that people have become accustomed to finding at Virgin Clubhouse lounges.

Featured image by Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse JFK. (Photo courtesy Virgin Atlantic)
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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  • 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
  • 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
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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.
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  • 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

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  • Annual Fee

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  • 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 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our 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