Posts in the “Virgin Atlantic” category...
by Continental Club on December 12, 2012 | Leave a comment
Delta Air Lines, the World’s largest air carrier by fleet size and passenger numbers, has announced that it intends to purchase the 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic which is currently held by Singapore Airlines.
The move has been widely rumoured for some weeks, with the confirmation coming almost simultaneously with the publication of the schedules for Virgin’s forthcoming UK domestic services to Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
These new routes will be operated with Irish flag-carrier Aer Lingus aircraft and crew, in Virgin livery and uniforms.
Delta, part of the SkyTeam airline alliance which also includes European airlines such as Air France and KLM, will require regulatory approval from the US Department of Transportation to develop what it and Virgin describe as ‘a transatlantic network’ joint-venture; approval which it’s further suggested could take up to 12 months to achieve.
The airline fully-completed its merger with rival Northwest Airlines in 2010, a process which took almost two years in total. The Northwest brand gave way to Delta, and the Northwest Worldperks frequent flyer programme was rolled into Delta’s SkyMiles. For its part, Virgin Atlantic promises its Flying Club members ‘some exciting changes’ ahead.
Singapore Airlines, which bought its stake in Virgin Atlantic for GBP600m/SGD1.18bn in 1999, appeared to be a fairly benign influence on their British investment, but the description of Delta’s USD360m/SGD440m purchase suggests rather more involvement from the new US partner in future.
The proposed sale does not directly affect the operations of Virgin Australia and Virgin America, which are separate companies from Virgin Atlantic.
For more information, visit virginatlantic.com
by Continental Club on November 22, 2012 | Leave a comment
Several airlines already offer their passengers the opportunity to ‘block’ seats next to them on flights. The majority of those that do (and advertise it) are shorthaul operators, with Air New Zealand’s SkyCouch being an almost unique longhaul example - until now.
In launching its ‘Seat Plus’ product, Virgin Atlantic becomes the biggest intercontinental carrier to actively promote the option for its customers.
The opportunity to block an adjacent seat is not yet available to purchase online, but can be requested by telephone up to 72 hours prior to departure, with prices starting from £99.
It remains to be seen whether the new facility will impact on bookings in Premium Economy, and how the carrier will cope with situations when disruption or oversales put pressure on all available seats. It’ll also be interesting to see how passengers who have paid for an extra seat will react if they board what turns out to be an already quiet flight with plenty of empty places!
For full details on Seat Plus, visit virgin-atlantic.co.uk.
by Continental Club on September 26, 2012 | Leave a comment
HHonors members can choose to earn what the hotelier describes as ‘HHonors Points and Fixed Miles’, or ‘HHonors Points and Variable Miles.’ Preferences can be set at joining, and changed during membership, so non-members can join and earn straight away, and existing members whose accounts are set to other partners can amend their profile to switch to Virgin for this promotion.
Those on fixed miles will earn 10 HHonors Base Points per eligible US Dollar equivalent spent, plus 1000, 200 or 100 Miles (depending on hotel brand) per stay.
Variable miles members will earn the same 10 HHonors Base Points per eligible US Dollar equivalent spent, plus 2 Flying Club miles per Dollar.
The bonus is the same for both earning preferences:
• 1st stay: 1,000 bonus miles
• 2nd stay: 2,000 bonus miles
• 3rd stay: 3,000 bonus miles
• 4th stay: 4,000 bonus miles
• 5th stay: 5,000 bonus miles
• From 6 stays and more – members will be awarded the standard stay Points and Miles only
To join Hilton HHonors, or to register for the promotion, click here.
Until the end of September, Hilton are also offering American Express cardholders 30% off rates at many properties. For more information, read Continental Club’s blogpost:
by Continental Club on February 16, 2012 | 4 comments
Members of the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club loyalty programme have joined their counterparts in the British Airways Executive Club in being able to exchange UK supermarket Tesco’s Clubcard Points for airline miles/points.
And, until 31st March 2012, members of both programmes can also benefit from conversion bonuses.
First, Virgin: the conversion rate has been set at 200 Clubcard Points to 500 Flying Club Miles, so 1 CC Point to 2.5 FC Miles. There are two conversion methods; quarterly manual transfer or an automatic exchange for Flying Club miles which requires an opt-in. Opting-in to the auto-conversion system before 31st March 2012 will generate a 1,000 mile bonus.
Secondly, British Airways: the conversion rate is 250 Clubcard Points to 600 Avios, so 1:2.4. Again, there are two conversion methods; manual or automatic. All conversions undertaken by the 31st March 2012 will generate an additional bonus of 400 Avios per 250 Clubcard Points converted, so 250 Points will convert to 1,000 Avios. And, for selected Executive Club members who have received a special email, there’s also a 1,000 Avios bonus for opting-in to auto-conversion too.
Which is better then, manual or automatic conversions, and Flying Club Miles or Avios? Well, as is so often the case, the answer comes down to personal circumstances and preferences.
Stick with manual transfers and there’s that regular administration, but the flexibility to feed both programmes alternately or to favour one or other for a while is retained – or to use your Clubcard Points for something completely different each quarter.
Opt-in to automatic conversions to one or other programme and you can sit back, avoid the three-monthly keying-in of voucher codes and watch the miles/Avios flow into your airline account – but if you want to use Clubcard Points for a different reward in future, you’ll have to remember to opt back out again, before a quarter-end.
Picking between the airline programmes isn’t as simple as looking at the conversion rates, either; although it appears at first glance that Virgin’s 1:2.5 is healthier than the BA Avios 1:2.4, both programmes allow you to redeem their currencies at different rates and for different rewards.
Where you live and where you’re likely to fly on a reward booking will also have a bearing on your decision: if you’re based in the North West or London, Virgin’s Manchester, Heathrow and Gatwick-based route network to the USA, Caribbean, Africa, Hong Kong and Sydney may be appealing. If, however, you live nearer to Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow or Newcastle, as well as Manchester and London of course, or you don’t always want to fly faraway when you redeem, then British Airways’ domestic connections, shorthaul network and wider longhaul destinations list may tip the balance in their favour.
Of course, you’d have to be spending significant amounts on your weekly shop at Tesco for Clubcard to be your sole source of airline miles or points, so the biggest decision-maker in terms of which programme to favour will probably come down to how else you earn that currency. If you already earn more Avios than Flying Club Miles because you fly British Airways more frequently and/or further, then it makes sense to stick with Avios and build your pot to a useful balance – and vice versa.
And if you are a super-frequent flyer, then there’s alot to be said for keeping a healthy number of miles and points in a few airline programmes – as it’s sometimes the case that if one airline shows no availability then the other will come up trumps when you want to redeem.
Whatever you decide, the best news is that Virgin Flying Club members now have a new way to earn miles open to them, and that both they and BA Executive Club Members can earn more miles and Avios respectively until the end of March.
For full details on the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club & Tesco Clubcard promotion, click here.
For full details on the British Airways Executive Club Avios & Tesco Clubcard promotion, click here.