BA or Virgin – which has the better frequent flyer programme?Back to Forum
Anonymous17 Aug 2015
Hi all frequent flyers , which frequent flyer programme gives you more value on clocking up miles will be travelling often Johannesburg to London . Not sure if use BA or Virgin.17 Aug 2015
I am fairly frequent user of both programmes and have American Express cards linked to both my Virgin Atlantic and British Airways accounts.
I would personally suggest the British Airways Executive Club programme because of the much greater range of routes that you will be able to redeem on – most notably, BA has a European short haul network (which can be decent value for redemptions due to Reward Flight Saver) and VS does not. Also, I really appreciate: (i) the ability to redeem on BA OneWorld partners having taken recent flights with both Cathay Pacific and Malaysia Airlines on miles; and (ii) gaining status which is recognised across OneWorld airlines – this is useful to me for short haul flights which I normally travel in economy.
If you are not interested in short haul redemptions, I think the position is more complicated. The benefits of the VS programme over Executive Club are: (i) I generally find availability – in particular, in premium cabins and to the West Coast of the United States, better on VS – I don’t have any statistical or other objective information to verify that – it’s just my recent experience; and (ii) opinions differ but I think VS Upper Class is better than BA Club World and the VS Clubhouse is hands down much better than the BA Galleries lounges at Heathrow.17 Aug 2015
I’d seriously consider thinking about Swiss, part of Star Alliance. After 4 or 5 trips you’ll be Gold valid for 2 years. As a Senator you’ll be placed in the small cabin (if you want) behind First. It’s just two rows with ten seats, 2-2-1.
You’ll also be able to get a companion ticket for just 50% of the miles and for a supplement a mileage ticket is guaranteed even if there’s just one seat left on the plane.
If more convenient you can fly into or out of London City and while it’s true you have to change planes, it’s quite easy with the flight arriving at 6am and immigration goes very quickly with most of the desks being manned.18 Aug 2015
Could another factor be BA/Comair, with their regional network? I assume you can earn or redeem points/miles etc as a BA Exec Club member.
Another feature is that BA uses the A380 on the route, which I think is a nice aircraft.
I notice however that SAA is not on your list of options. Is there a reason for that? Remember that they are Star Alliance members, along with Swiss which Lugano Pirate has just suggested, and so good for earning and redeeming points both worldwide, and regionally.18 Aug 2015
Indeed Sparkyflyer, SAA is part of *A and another advantage if flying onwards with either SAA or SAA Express is that you can through check baggage. You still have to pick it up in JNB and clear customs, but then you can just drop it off. Especially useful if you have two bags or weight above 20 kgs as SAA Express will accept them without any problem rather than charge you extra for an additional bag or weight above 20kgs.
On the return you can also through check and not see your bags till you arrive at your final destination.
Miles earned also count towards gold.18 Aug 2015
M&M is a poor scheme these days, unless you fly long haul premium cabins regularly. Have Swiss also cut their non-flex J earning like LH?
Love Swiss F mind! I don’t think I’d go out of my way (ie a change) for J though. Used to do that when they were doing £1400 returns LCY-JFK via GVA).18 Aug 2015
I agree FDOS, though it’s not bad for short flights with SA. However SA Express leaves something to be desired though it’s better than the competition and has its good and bad days.
Gooner, you’re right, unless you pay the higher fares it’s not that good for points collection within Europe, but to JNB ex UK the OP will get 25,000 miles return with an 1800 mile bonus on status.19 Aug 2015
With the changes to the Miles & More programme if you were ticketed in fare class P (the cheapest business fare category), it would take about eight trips in business class from JNB via ZRH to London to achieve gold status from scratch.
On the basis of a flight from ZRH to Dar es Salaam in First on Swiss last month, I’d say a slight detour via ZRH was well worth it. On the basis of the return flight from Dar in business in Swiss, I’m not so sure that a transfer in Zurich would always be preferable over a direct JNB to LHR flight.19 Aug 2015