Virtuoso allocated 50 seats to sell on Virgin Galactic

New referral program offers streamlined access to direct sales channel

Virgin Galactic's Carrier Aircraft VMS Eve and VSS Unity Take to the Skies © Virgin Galactic

Virtuoso travel advisors no longer need to be Accredited Space Agents in order to sell seats on Virgin Galactic under a recently reignited agreement between the global luxury travel network and the aerospace company.

The refreshed partnership comes as Virgin Galactic aims to sell the balance of seats in this latest tranche to new customers before October. Consumers are now also able to begin a booking with Virgin Galactic via Virtuoso’s website, LATTE can exclusively reveal.

Tickets on Virgin Galactic are currently priced at US$450,000. Since last year, and fuelled by the low deposit One Small Step promotion, the space company has sold an additional 220 seats into space, and is honing in on the 1,000 seat milestone.

Speaking at Virtuoso Travel Week on Monday, Matthew Upchurch, CEO and Chairman of Virtuoso, said travel advisors within his consortia had sold around 100 seats on Virgin Galactic since the Accredited Space Agents (ASA) program was launched in 2006.

SpaceShipTwo Unity Release from VMS Eve (C) Virgin Galactic

However, following the crash of Virgin Galactic’s original SpaceShipTwo in late 2014, the ASA program remained “dormant” for two years while investigations were carried out and test flights resumed. The program remained in limbo until December last year, at which time Virtuoso “officially sunset the old ASA program,” Upchurch told media.

Upchurch, who himself is among a small group of ‘Founding Astronauts” and paid the bargain price of US$200,000 in 2006 for his spot in the queue for spaceflight, said the original space accreditation agents program gave travel advisors in-depth and thorough training on how to sell space travel. This new alliance however provides a fast track to sales for members.

It was Virgin Galactic’s appointment in February of Blair Rich as President and Chief Business Officer, Commercial and Consumer Operations that was the catalyst for the alliance with Virtuoso to be rekindled, Upchurch said, swinging from the Accredited Space Agents program to a new Referral basis.

Touchdown of VSS Unity back at Spaceport America following Unity 22 space flight

“It’s more of a collaboration and referral basis without the advisor having to know all the details,” Upchurch said.

The advantage for the consumer booking their space seat with Virtuoso is they will sell into 50 “ringfenced seats” designated for Virtuoso. While those seats (850-899) are several years from lift-off – at least not until 2025 – it puts the prospective new Future Astronaut ahead of anyone booking directly.

Under the new agreement, any Virtuoso travel advisor can now refer a prospect to Virgin Galactic’s direct sales channel, thereby handing over the reservation to the company and its experts. The initial deposit will be US$150,000, of which US$25,000 is non-refundable, and the balance required with 12 months of spaceflight. Each client booked will earn the travel advisor a US$10,000 referral.

LATTE understands once Virgin Galactic reaches the milestone of 1,000 seat sales, future bookings will be put on waitlist basis again.

Virgin Galactic is hopeful of launching its first commercial flight in Q2 2023. With all things going well, the company aspires to be operating VSS Unity to space at least once a month from later this year, progressing to twice a month with the arrival of VSS Imagine, earmarked for debut later this year.

In the past month, Virgin Galactic has revealed multiple initiatives for its Future Astronauts, including a new Space Campus in New Mexico, a final assembly plant for new Delta-class spacecraft in Greater Phoenix, and a deal for the construction of two new motherships, to be delivered by 2025.

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