Earlier this week, I wrote about Virgin Atlantic’s generous upgrade program in effect until the New Year. In short, the oldest person on each flight receives a complimentary upgrade to the highest cabin available. But not everyone is happy about the upgrade policy.
Anger From a Virgin Atlantic Gold Member Over “Outrageous” Upgrade Scheme
Reader “Rory” left the following comment in my previous story on the matter:
I’m outraged by this move from Virgin Atlantic. I hold Gold Tier status and pour literally tens of thousands of £ each year on VS tickets. I don’t get upgraded ever, but some old fogey will because they have a few years on me? It is utterly outrageous and an offence to anyone who patronises Virgin Atlantic on a regular basis. Next year I am seriously considering a pivot to British Airways, especially with the A350-1000 coming online.
Does Rory have a point?
I’d say this situation is a bit different than unsolicited status matches or a last-minute loosening of the status requirements. I’ve defended those gifts in the past, even when they worked against me, but also acknowledged that what drives people to status is its exclusivity. When the floodgates are opened, value is diluted, which is a sort of bait-and-switch.
But here, I just cannot go along with Rory’s argument. First, Virgin Atlantic does not promise free upgrades to Premium Economy or Upper Class for its Gold members. Thus, this act of benevolence does not rob any elite member of a promised benefit. Second, Rory may not find the grasser greener on the British Airways side…
The idea that a frequent flyer is entitled to an upgrade in a loyalty program that does not offer such upgrades strikes me as confusion at best and self-entitled childishness at worst. That’s a different question than whether I think Virgin Atlantic should offers it Gold members upgrades from time to time, which I think the answer is yes.
Are you sympathetic to Rory’s argument?