Like Alaska miles, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has a unique set of mileage redemptions that varies by partner, some of which are amazing deals.
In truth, I made a note to look into their partners after OneMileAtAtime booked and posted about a first class flight on ANA for 120,000 miles… Which ended up being only 92,500 Amex MR points (due to a transfer bonus). An amazing first class deal.
But there are lots of great deals that are even better with a 30% bonus. With a 30% bonus, a oneway to New Zealand for 30,000 miles is nearly 23,000 miles. A 25,000 miles business class ticket to Africa would be 19,200. And a 10,000 mile flight to Europe would be 7,700 miles.
I’ll start by going through each and every partner, highlighting the best redemptions and explaining the award chart and rules. Then I’ll go over Virgin Australia redemptions and redemptions on Virgin Atlantic itself.
In my opinion, I would make sure to check out the first few sections on redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles for South African, Air New Zealand, and ANA, and then I’d skip down to redeeming for Virgin Atlantic miles.
Intro and Quirks Of Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles
- Transfers: Amex MR, Chase UR, Citi TY
- Credit cards: A BOA card that periodically has a 90,000 mile bonus.
Pricing: As I mentioned, just like Alaska, prices depend on what partner you end up redeeming your Virgin Miles to fly. The problem is that you can’t really combine partners on one ticket, at least not for a single price.
Many of these partners charge per segment, which is really annoying.
As you’ll see this program has some amazing prices, but with strict routes. Making it really great for certain deals. Each airline has its own gems with specific uses or city pairings.
This chart below of prices by partner (from North America) shows which airline has sweet spots / good deals to specific regions.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles: Chart of prices from North America
Use Virgin Atlantic Miles for: South African Airways
I start with South African because it has the single best deal… but with a very specific use.
DC to Dakar, Senegal for 20k/25k Virgin Miles!
This is by far the cheapest flight to Africa (which I previously thought was Emirates Miles for the same route). To fly to Africa in Business Class for 25,000 miles has to be the cheapest Business Class award of its distance.
The other thing that comes to mind, is that it could be a way to set up an intra-Africa free flight award with United (see “Complete Guide to United Stopover Tricks“).
If you aren’t looking for a ticket to Senegal, there are a few other interesting deals.
For example, DC to Ghana is another specific route with its own price of a oneway for 35k/55k (econ/biz).
But here’s what’s odd, and why Senegal matters…
South Africa is a beautiful country and you can fly there on South African from NYC and DC for 50k/75k… which is a fine price with an Amex MR transfer bonus.
However, look at this:
- US to South Africa = 50k/75k
- US to Senegal = 20k/25k
- Senegal to South Africa = 20k/25k
US to South Africa via Senegal = 40k/50k.
However, here’s what it says about the US to Senegal and Ghana route – “24-hour connection required if booked in conjunction with another reward”. This is really an odd term that would ruin the deal, if I even understand it. But it seems to me that you simply book one and call back and book the other. I’d be surprised if an agent booking both would enforce a 24 hour connection, but I wanted to mention it.
Another interesting redemption, partly because routes like this are normally really expensive, is Africa to Australia and Asia (price in oneways):
- South Africa – Australia 42.5k/55k
- South Africa – Asia 45k/65k
Those are actually decent premium cabin prices.
Here’s what I see being a unique all business class award:
- DC to Senegal = 25k
- Senegal to South Africa = 25k
- South Africa to Hong Kong (or anywhere in Asia) = 65k
Obviously the part to South Africa is the better deal, and you could use another program there.
Once again, it’s most reasonable if you want to stopover at each destination, as you’re getting charged per segment. The terms read: “If a journey requires a connecting flight or stopover to reach the destination, miles are charged for each sector”.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club award chart for South African Airways flights:
Prices are roundtrip, oneways are half (details here)
|Route||Economy Class||Business Class|
|Domestic South Africa||20,000||30,000|
|South Africa – Southern Africa||20,000||30,000|
|South Africa – Central & Northern Africa||40,000||50,000|
|South Africa – Indian Ocean||40,000||50,000|
|Senegal – USA||40,000||50,000|
|South Africa – Europe / South America||70,000||110,000|
|Ghana – USA||70,000||110,000|
|South Africa – Australia||85,000||110,000|
|South Africa – Asia||90,000||130,000|
|South Africa – USA||100,000||150,000|
Use Virgin Atlantic Miles for: Air New Zealand
There are 3 gems here, which I’ll mention, then give the drawbacks.
There is only one Air New Zealand destination in the US- LAX. This makes these gems most applicable to those in LA obviously.
1) LA to Auckland, New Zealand for 30,000 miles in economy and 45,000 miles in business class one way is a great deal.
2) LA to London for 25,000 miles oneway in economy.
3) New Zealand to South Pacific Islands for 10k/15k miles.
The problem with any Air Zealand award is availability, especially in business class.
15,000 miles for ANZ business class from New Zealand to Tahiti is a great deal and experience… however, I really struggle to find ANZ business class whenever I look at trying to recreate my Pacific Hopper trip on United. If you’re flexible, dates do pop up but it’s rare.
The other problem is that it’s priced per segment. So if you wanted to fly Air New Zealand from LA to Sydney, it would be 30k for a oneway to AKL and then another 10k to fly to SYD.
Virgin Flying Club award chart for Air New Zealand Flights:
All prices are in roundtrip, oneways are half (details here).
|Route||Economy Class||Business Class|
|Domestic New Zealand||15,000||–|
|New Zealand – Australia||20,000||30,000|
|New Zealand – Pacific Islands||20,000||30,000|
|Los Angeles – London||50,000||155,000|
|New Zealand – Asia||60,000||80,000|
|New Zealand – Hawaii||60,000||90,000|
|South Pacific – Los Angeles||60,000||90,000|
|New Zealand – North / South America||80,000||125,000|
Use Virgin Atlantic Miles for: ANA
The best partner is ANA. Other programs have few routes that are deals, or few routes from the US at all… ANA has tons of good prices with two major catches.
- Oneway awards are not available.
- Prices shown from US are to Japan- to go elsewhere in Asia is an extra.
That being said, if you need a roundtrip to Japan, this is an amazing deal.
Let me start with their odd award chart…
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club award chart for ANA flights:
Prices are roundtrips only (see details here).
|Route||Economy Class||Business Class||First Class|
|Japan – South Korea||18,000||35,000||50,000|
|Japan – China / Guam / Hong Kong / Philippines / Taiwan||23,000||45,000||60,000|
|Japan – Malaysia / Myanmar / Singapore / Thailand / Vietnam||40,000||65,000||80,000|
|Japan – Hawaii / India / Indonesia||45,000||70,000||90,000|
|Japan – Australia / Canada / Western USA||60,000||90,000||110,000|
|Japan – Europe / Central & Eastern USA / Mexico||65,000||95,000||120,000|
US based roundtrip prices (econ/biz/first):
- Hawaii – Japan = 45/70/90
- Canada / Western USA – Japan = 60/90/110
- Central & Eastern USA – Japan = 65/95/120
As Ben (of OMAAT) points out in his post on “ANA First Class With Virgin Atlantic Miles“, this is “an incredible value”. Not only is 110k – 120k miles a great roundtrip price for a great first class to Asia, but he booked it after a 30% transfer bonus. This brings the price down to 85k – 93k Amex MR points. That’s an incredible deal.
You can’t book business class awards for those prices. Or as Ben points out, you can’t book oneway first class awards for that price!
If you’re into First Class flights on your journey to Asia (who wouldn’t be?), then this is among the best of deals.
The roundtrip thing is annoying to me personally, as from Japan I’d likely book a ticket to somewhere else in Asia. This is just me personally, I just want to spend a lot of time in Asia if I’m going to fly all that way. Thus, I’d have to make a roundtrip to Japan, and then a roundtrip somewhere else in Asia.
But this is still a great deal to me, and for someone looking for a normal roundtrip to Japan, this is a no-brainer.
Use Virgin Atlantic Miles for: Delta
Greg of Frequent Miler lives near a Delta hub and he recently mentioned to me how he likes VA Flying Club because Delta actually has great availability. Because Delta Miles prices can be so high internationally, there are fewer people booking, and more open seats.
Check out FM’s post which walks through the details of booking: How to book Delta flights with Virgin Atlantic miles.
Virgin Flying Club award chart for Delta Flights:
Prices are roundtrip, oneways require half the miles (details here)
|Route||Delta Main Cabin||Business / First|
|Within the US and between the US and Alaska/Canada||25,000||45,000|
|US to Caribbean, Central America & Mexico||35,000||60,000|
|US to Hawaii||40,000||75,000|
|US to South America||45,000||90,000|
|US to Europe||60,000||100,000|
|US to Africa / Middle East & Asia||80,000||120,000|
|US to South West Pacific (Australia)||100,000||150,000|
|From Northern Asia to Hawaii||40,000||70,000|
|Within Asia / Northern Asia||25,000||45,000|
|From South East Asia to Northern Asia||45,000||70,000|
In truth, a flight to Europe for 30k/50k miles (oneway) is actually decent deal, especially if there is great availability, and especially with a 30% transfer bonus (making flights 23k/39k Amex MR points).
And you can search online, and find international business class awards on lots of dates:
I also easily found business class awards for 60k to China, when searching from Detroit…
The big problem is that Delta has the same terms that require charging for each segment (“If a journey requires a connecting flight or stopover to reach the destination, miles are charged for each sector”).
This is especially annoying because Delta is the one partner who would allow me to fly from most any US cities.
Yet, when I search for the same ticket to China from Austin (which is a Delta focus city that has no directs to Beijing), then nothing even shows up.
Thus, in order to book non-direct flights, you’d have to book them separately.
Once again, making another VA partner deal better for direct flights, and snubbing the non-hub cities.
The UK Award Chart For Delta Flights
Oddly enough, there is another award chart for flights to the UK, which I suppose would compete more directly with Virgin Atlantic.
However, the problem is the insane fees. So you could get a oneway to London for as cheap as 10k miles, which is awesome. However, they estimate the roundtrip fees at >$500.
Prices are roundtrip (oneways are half):
|Route (to/from UK)||Season||Delta Main Cabin||Delta One|
US East Coast (BOS, JFK,PHL)
|Standard||20,000 miles +
|90,000 miles +
|Peak||40,000 miles +
115,000 miles +
US Central (ATL,DTW, MSP)
|Standard||25,000 miles +
|95,000 miles +
|Peak||45,000 miles +
115,000 miles +
US West Coast (PDX,SLC)
|Standard||30,000 miles +
135,000 miles +
|Peak||50,000 miles +
155,000 miles +
- Standard season dates: 17 April – 21 June 2018, 7 September – 12 December 2018, 7 January – 3 April 2019, 23 April – 21 June 2019, 9 September – 12 December 2019
- Peak season dates: 22 June – 6 September 2018, 13 December 2018 – 6 January 2019, 4 April – 22 April 2019, 22 June – 8 September 2019, 13 December – 31 December 2019
Hawaii to Asia – I just wanted to point out one other deal, which is Honolulu to Japan for 20k/35k (oneway price).
That’s a pretty good deal to Japan if you already have a cheap flight to Hawaii. Check out Cheapest Miles To Hawaii, as flights from the US to Hawaii begin at 11.5k miles. In this case you could get a flight to Japan for 31.5k miles, with a stopover in Hawaii.
Delta routes from HNL to Japan: Nagoya–Centrair, Osaka–Kansai, Tokyo–Narita
Use Virgin Atlantic Miles for other partners: Hawaiian, Air China, and Singapore
Use Virgin Miles on Hawaiian
Meh. Here’s the award chart (prices in roundtrip, oneways are half):
First / Business
|Hawaii – West Coast Mainland USA||40,000||80,000|
|Hawaii – South Pacific||55,000||95,000|
|Hawaii – Asia / Australia / New Zealand / East Coast Mainland USA||80,000||130,000|
Use Virgin Atlantic Miles for: Air China
- Only a single route: London – Beijing = 56K/135K/200K (roundtrip)
Use Virgin Atlantic Miles for: Singapore
For whatever reason, all of the US route options only have economy. (See details here).
Prices from the US are the following (oneways):
- Japan/Hong Kong = 30k
- Singapore = 45k
- UK (IAH-MAN) = 30k
- Germany (NYC-FRA) = 25k
Use Virgin Atlantic Miles for: Virgin Australia
According to this list of Virgin Australia destinations, the only US destination is LAX. Which means any US flight is going to be to Australia for 47k/94k, according to the first chart.
Specific routes not on the first chart are therefore distance based.
Flying Club award chart for Virgin Australia flights (roundtrip, but oneways are half):
|Melbourne – Hong Kong||80,000 miles||160,000 miles|
|Sydney – Hong Kong||80,000 miles||160,000 miles|
|Brisbane / Melbourne / Sydney – Los Angeles||94,000 miles||188,000 miles|
All other Virgin Australia routes are distance based (prices in roundtrip, oneways are half):
|Distance per Sector (miles)||Economy||Business|
|Less than 400 miles||16,000||32,000|
|400 – 599 miles||25,000||50,000|
|600 – 1,199 miles||30,000||60,000|
|1,200 – 2,999 miles||40,000||80,000|
|3,000 – 3,999 miles||70,000||140,000|
|4,000 – 4,999 miles||80,000||160,000|
|More than 4,999 miles||94,000||188,000|
However, this has the weirdest way of pricing these distance based awards. It gives an example of Sydney to Melbourne being 433 miles (although gcmaps.com says it’s 439) and therefore in the second category of costing 25,000 miles for a roundtrip or 12,500 for a oneway.
Therefore, you take the oneway distance to get the roundtrip price.
Use Virgin Atlantic Miles for: Virgin Atlantic Flights
This is truly an awesome award chart for economy off-peak prices… except for the fees which kind of kill it for me. You can book a direct flight to London for 10,000 miles and $149 in fees… going to London. Coming back you also get hit with the major airport taxes.
As you’ll notice, they give fee/tax estimates. But know all the prices are roundtrip, so the fees are going to be cheaper going to Europe rather than coming back.
Route To/from UK
|Economy Classic||Taxes, fees, charges||Upper Class||Taxes, fees, charges|
USA – Northeast
(Boston, Newark, New York JFK, Washington DC)
USA – Midwest & South
(Atlanta, Miami, Orlando)
USA – West
(Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle)
Africa, China and Hong Kong
Not including the fees, these are great prices from the UK to the US, Caribbean, Africa, India and China/Hong Kong.
This is probably a confusing program with rules and prices changing partner by partner, and the best deals are all direct flights and individual segments.
That being said, these are some of the cheapest prices, period.
Cheapest mileage flight to Africa. Cheapest economy flight to Europe. Cheapest First Class flights to Asia.
These are some of the cheapest options period… But there’s a lot of bad deals to sift through.
I hope going over each partner is helpful for anyone interested in the program!
You wrote, “There is only one Air New Zealand destination in the US- LAX.” But, they also fly to Chicago- https://www.airnewzealand.com/press-release-2018-air-new-zealand-flight-to-chicago-takes-flight
And IAH. And YVR in Canada.
Oh, and HNL too. Unfortunately, IAH, SFO, ORD and YVR probably all fall under the 80/125 price instead of 60/90 for LAX and HNL.
Re: why SQ only has economy for US flights: the airline blocks partner access to premium cabins on long-haul flights. You must use KrisFlyer miles to book SQ long-haul premium cabins.
As a general rule this is true, but at times they’ll allow partners to access the premium cabin space. Not long ago I saw J available from SYD-SIN show up on United.
“However, here’s what it says about the US to Senegal and Ghana route – “24-hour connection required if booked in conjunction with another reward”. This is really an odd term that would ruin the deal, if I even understand it. But it seems to me that you simply book one and call back and book the other. I’d be surprised if an agent booking both would enforce a 24 hour connection, but I wanted to mention it.”
There is a decent body of writing on other blogs about the Senegal/South Africa deal. What this rule is saying is that you need to spend at least 24 hours in Senegal and cannot book back-to-back flights to South Africa. From my understanding, it seemed technically possible to make two phone calls and get around this rule however you’d need to be flying with no checked baggage. The aircraft that flies to Senegal is also the one that flies to South Africa so it’s a quick turn. If you checked baggage you’d need to clear customs and immigration, claim your bag, re check it, and go through security all within 45 minutes or so. If you only had a carry on this wouldn’t be as big of an issue.
Long time lurker, first comment. I recently flew Shanghai to London on Virgin Atlantic premium economy which was a great flight. This PE seat and service is superior to most PE products out there, and the standard award is only 22500 miles, plus $215 in fees. This is a solid value even with the fees, especially for those who don’t want to spend points for upper class and want some comfort for a long flight. New York to London on PE standard award is just 17500 plus $250 fees, a decent award as well.
I noticed PE wasn’t mentioned in this post, but it can be a great option for the right cities. Fees are lower flying into London, would avoid flying out of London/UK on Virgin.
NZ to North America is 125,000 miles rather than 90,000 miles, isn’t it? You mention 90,000 miles but that’s South Pacific to Los Angeles. Since it is explicitly stated that NZ to North America is 125,000 miles, I don’t think it would count as 90,000 miles for South Pacific to Los Angeles, isn’t it?
nice comprehensive post….