Respected blogger and the biggest name in search marketing, Danny Sullivan, has slammed Virgin’s frequent flyer program, pledging allegienace to the British Airways he used to hate so much. Why? Because he found it almost impossible to redeem his Virgin rewards while the reverse is true at BA. 

Sullivan wrote: "I’ve been an unabashed Virgin fan, but the airline has amazingly — unbelievably — now driven me closer to British Airways. The hated BA, which I have to say, looks much better as I measure up the frequent flyer programs.

"Virgin’s Not So Generous Frequent Flyer Program is my post from last year, when I looked at how hard it was for me to use my Virgin miles for anything. I’ve just now tried to book tickets for a family trip in October. I have four companion award tickets to use, plus 350,000 miles. Can I splurge on the big seats to fly over? Nope. Can’t use the companion tickets, and it’s strictly only economy left for a range of dates I checked.

"It’s the school holidays," is the usual Virgin refrain. Duh. Of course it is, but the bigger problem is you don’t release enough seats. Meanwhile, I’ve been flying BA more recently, as they’ve either had exceptionally better prices than Virgin or fly into places Virgin doesn’t go. I’ve built up some miles, enough to see what BA might have to offer on the family trip. Big seats? No problem.

"I really, really enjoy Virgin. I’ve paid more to fly them in the past. But I’m tired of accumulating useless miles. It’s nice to be a gold member, and the Virgin lounge at Heathrow has no match to what I’ve seen elsewhere. But I think I’ll build up my status on BA instead. What a change for someone who has hated them so much in the past. And what a change in particular because of problems with something that’s supposed to keep my loyal, a useless loyalty program."

You can sign up for Sullivan’s personal blog at – June 2007

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