Earlier in the week I received an email from Virgin Atlantic offering a 50% off reward sale on selected routes. This offer is valid for tickets issued between February 20th and March 5th for flights taken until May 31st (Cancun & Vancouver have longer redemption period). This offer is only valid for economy awards.
Here’s the reason why this offer is in fact terrible. Virgin Atlantic charges huge fuel surcharges that they lump with taxes/fees. In lower economy fares the fuel surcharge portion is in fact much higher than the fare itself. It only makes sense to redeem Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles for Premium Economy and preferably Upper Class business class tickets only.
Here’s a simple New York to London economy redemption that Virgin Atlantic on their email advertises for 29500 Virgin Flying Club miles.
You can see that the price is 29500 miles and $615.60 in taxes, fees and surcharges
When you click the Fare Breakdown you get the following screen. Virgin must be ashamed of their actual breakdown that they still don’t present it.
Only after you click the taxes, fees, charges and surcharges link you will get the actual breakdown.
On this “award” ticket the fuel surcharge is $438. That is nothing but pure revenue that is masqueraded as some sort of tax component.
Let’s look at some Virgin’s revenue fares for the same period and the same route. It is easy to find a revenue fare of $729.90. As you can see Virgin publishes fares as low as $45.50 for this route one-way. So, in essence your 29500 miles can be worth as low as $91. Not even considering that you would actually earn miles on that $91 fare.
Here are the terms and conditions of this offer:
Terms & Conditions
**Excludes flights from Cancun, which must be taken by July 3, 2012 and flights from Vancouver which must be taken by October 27, 2012.
1. Flying Club reward flights are subject to the payment of applicable taxes, charges, fees and surcharges. The exact amount will be advised at the time of booking either via our website or contact centre.
2. 2 for 1 offer valid from February 20 to March 5, 2012.
3. Offer valid for return travel in Economy only across selected routes.
4. This offer is for full mileage reward seats only, and cannot be combined with CombiFares.
5. Open jaw travel is permitted ONLY if both routes are included in the 2 for 1 promotion i.e. LHR-SFO and LAX-LHR.
6. Date changes can be made (normal charges apply) but dates of travel cannot extend beyond May 31, 2012 (except for Cancun and Vancouver).
7. Return travel must be completed by May 31, 2012 (except Cancun and Vancouver).
8. Credit card upgrades cannot be applied to this offer.
9. Offer is subject to availability.
10. All bookings need to be made via the local Contact Centre.