Virgin Atlantic drops business class chauffeur drive service

Upper Class passengers will need to make their own way to the airport from July, with the airline axing all ground transfers.

By Chris Chamberlin , February 24 2020
Virgin Atlantic drops business class chauffeur drive service

Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class (business class) passengers will no longer receive complimentary limousine transfers to and from the airport on new flight bookings made from July 1 2020.

The alternative option of a Limobike or railway tickets for the Heathrow Express or Gatwick Express in London will also be withdrawn on bookings made from the same date.

Eligible flights booked prior to July 1, however, will remain eligible for a transfer: even for travel after that date.

“This change reflects evolving preferences and means we’ll be providing a consistent experience with our partners Delta, Air France and KLM,” Virgin Atlantic said in a statement, having just signed a joint venture partnership with Air France and KLM, which don’t offer complimentary airport transfers in business class.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class chauffeur eligibility

Interestingly, as complimentary transfers are already limited to flight bookings made under the highest-priced Upper Class Flexible fare category, most business class passengers were already ineligible for a transfer.

Virgin Atlantic shares that 80% of passengers traveling Upper Class do so on the lower-priced Standard tickets, or on reward bookings made using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles or points from its partners such as Delta and Virgin Australia: neither of which qualify for the free transfer.

Of the remaining 20% of Upper Class passengers eligible for free transfers – having booked onto an Upper Class Flexible fare – less than half were making use of the service: an average of just 2-3 passengers on a full Boeing 787-9 Upper Class flight, for instance.

ET review: Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Upper Class

“We continue to invest heavily in our much-loved Upper Class product, focusing on what our customers have told us they want,” continues the airline’s statement.

“We’ll be introducing eight further A350 aircraft in 2020 and 2021, so that more can experience the stunning A350 Upper Class suite and the new Loft area, as well as a brand new Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in Manchester this summer.”

The Upper Class Loft aboard Virgin Atlantic's Airbus A350s
The Upper Class Loft aboard Virgin Atlantic's Airbus A350s

ET review: Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350-1000 Upper Class

Outside London, Virgin Atlantic’s chauffeur drive service is currently available in Aberdeen, Atlanta, Barbados, Belfast, Boston, Cancun, Delhi, Edinburgh, Grenada, Glasgow, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Manchester, Miami, Montego Bay, Mumbai, New York (for JFK and Newark), Orlando, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Seattle, Shanghai, St Lucia, Tobago and Tel Aviv.

Virgin Atlantic’s Revivals Lounge at London Heathrow continues to be available to all passengers arriving on an Upper Class flight regardless of fare type, along with eligible frequent flyers travelling premium economy or economy.

ET review: Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge, London Heathrow

Virgin Atlantic’s new Air France, KLM partnership

As part of Virgin Atlantic’s new tie-up with both Air France and KLM, Flying Club miles can now be earned and spent on flights with these two airlines – and the reverse is true for members of Air France/KLM Flying Blue for travel on Virgin Atlantic.

When booking flights using Flying Club miles, passengers can travel in Air France business class, premium economy or economy class, and KLM business class or economy class, all of which can now be booked via the Virgin Atlantic website.

However, reward bookings in Air France’s La Premiere first class are unavailable, as the airline typically reserves these for its own frequent flyers only: and even then, usually only makes these seats available to top-tier frequent flyers.

In Australia, Air France and KLM are partnered with Qantas as opposed to Branson-backed Virgin Australia, with Qantas Points now able to be spent on business class and economy class flights with Air France and KLM, while Virgin Australia Velocity members can continue to earn and spend Velocity points on Virgin Atlantic flights.

Read: Booking Virgin Atlantic flights using Velocity points

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 339

Would be interesting if you could transfer Virgin Velocity points to Virgin Atlantic? Another marriage to Qantas and Virgin

That's not possible, but you can use Velocity points to book Virgin Atlantic flights straight through Velocity, and the number of points needed is the same as for Virgin Australia flights of the same distance.

Otherwise, Australian AMEX Membership Rewards points can be converted directly into Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles, provided that the MR account is attached to the Ascent, Ascent Premium or David Jones flavours of Membership Rewards (no transfers from Gateway, attached to the AMEX Explorer Card, for instance).


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