I recently wanted to top up an account with a transfer from my Virgin Atlantic (Flying Club program) to a hotel partner. The request must be done by calling customer service. One of the terms and conditions caught my attention:
Why Does a Transfer Take So Long?
I can’t think of a good reason why a transfer request would take up to 30 days. Since Virgin Atlantic has partnerships with the participating hotels, it’s safe to assume that there is some internal process to handle transfer requests. I figured the “up to 30 days” is buffer language, just in case. These assumptions seemed reasonable, since data points suggest that transfers are generally done within 1-3 weeks.
Compared to major rewards programs (i.e. Amex’s Membership Rewards or Chase’s Ultimate Rewards), Virgin Atlantic’s transfer process is behind the times. Many programs these days allow you to request transfers online. You link your reward accounts to the partner accounts and then initiate the transfer. Some transfer options are instantaneous, while others can take a few days to complete.
The bad news: My transfer request with Virgin Atlantic actually took longer than 30 days, due to a human error. I am not really upset about the mistake itself — we all make mistakes. Luckily for me, the delay hadn’t adversely affect my upcoming plans, so I am not upset from that perspective, either. However, the wait time didn’t make the experience any less frustrating. Let’s put it this way: If someone gives you an excessively long wait time to get something done, and it’s still not done when the time comes, you’re not going to be a very happy camper.
I could think of numerous ways to improve the transfer process to minimize the possibility of errors, but maybe hindsight is 20/20. Fortunately, the good news (for my readers, at least) is that my experience was an exception and not the norm.
Update: The request was re-processed. The process took 12 days, with the points appearing sometime on a Tuesday.