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The Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is often overlooked since the airline has a small route network and specializes in flights from the UK to the US and the Caribbean. However, that can be a big mistake, especially when it comes to booking awards. The airline has some excellent value sweet spots if you are looking for transatlantic travel. Furthermore, Virgin has a well-developed network of partners and excellent award charts that feature some of the best value redemption Sweet Spots in the points and miles world! So, check out the best uses of your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points!
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Ways To Boost Your Virgin Atlantic Points Balance
Unlike many other airlines, you are spoiled for choice if you are a few points short of redemption with Virgin Atlantic. Fortunately, the Virgin Flying Club is a transfer partner to 6 major credit card and transferable points currencies. This flexibility is another feather in the cap of the Flying Club since you can use the program to consolidate several small points balances into one larger balance which you can then leverage for a redemption. You can transfer the following points to the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
American Express Membership Rewards
American Express Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic at a ratio of 1:1 with a minimum transfer of 1,000 points. In terms of time frames, the transfers are immediate, which makes Membership Rewards an excellent choice for instantly boosting your balance to book a much sought-after award. Transferring Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic means you can use points earned from all of the following cards can be used towards your next Virgin Atlantic award booking.
- The Platinum Card from American Express.
- The American Express Gold Card.
- The American Express Green Card
- Blue from American Express card
- Amex Everyday® Preferred Credit Card
- The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
- Business Green Rewards Card from American Express
- American Express® Business Gold Card
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
Capital One Miles
You can also transfer one of the relative newcomers on the block Capital One Miles to Virgin Atlantic. Typically transfers are at a ratio of 1:1, and the minimum transfer amount is 1,000 miles. Similar to Membership Rewards Capital One, transfers are immediate. This again makes Capital One Miles an excellent option for instantly boosting your balance lock in a sought-after award before it vanishes. Remember that if you transfer Capital One Miles, you need to transfer them to Virgin Red first. After which you can move them on instantaneously to Virgin Atlantic at a ratio of 1:1. All of the following cards earn Capital One Miles:
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
- Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
- Capital One Spark Miles for Business
Chase Ultimate Rewards
You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. In terms of ratios and minimums, Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Virgin at a ratio of 1:1 with a minimum transfer of 1,000 points. Similarly to Membership Rewards and Capital One Miles, transfers take place immediately. This speedy transfer rate again makes Ultimate Rewards points a go-to option for quickly boosting your points balance to secure an award. The following cards earn you Chase Ultimate Rewards points:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
Citi ThankYou Points
Not to be left out, you can also transfer Citi ThankYou points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Typically transfers are at a ratio of 1:1, and the minimum transfer amount of 1,000 points. Just like Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, and Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi transfers are immediate. Again this makes Citi ThankYou points a great option for quickly boosting your points balance to lock in an award. All of the following cards earn Citi ThankYou points.
Marriott Bonvoy Points
Finally, although they are not credit card points per se, you can also transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. However, transfers occur at a ratio of 3:1 with a minimum transfer of 3,000 points. One thing to remember if you are looking to transfer a large number of points is that Marriott has an inbuilt transfer bonus in its program. For every 60,000 points you transfer, you will earn a 5,000 mile/point bonus. So transferring 60,000 points will yield 25,000 Virgin points instead of 20,000 at a 3:1 ratio.
Sadly Marriott transfers to Virgin Atlantic are not immediate. Typically transfers take anywhere from 1 to 2 days. While this delay may be a problem when it comes to booking a “rare” award. It is not the case if you are looking for standard awards on Virgin Metal, which generally have plenty of availability. You can earn Marriott points for stays at Marriott properties and for spending on all of the following cards:
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card
Finally, you can transfer Bilt Rewards to the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Typically, transfers are at a ratio of 1:1, with a minimum transfer of 2,000 points. Currently, there are insufficient data points to tell how long the transfer takes accurately. So if you are looking to boost your balance for an immediate award, you are best using another point currency. However, if you are looking to book a Standard Reward, which normally has plenty of availability, then Bilt Rewards can be a good option.
Reward Seat Availability Bonanza
One of the best aspects of the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club when it comes to rewards on its own metal is reward availability. While, on the one hand, other airlines have these fantastic value award seats, finding these unicorn awards is virtually impossible due to their rarity. Virgin is much more generous when it comes to allocating award seats. In mid-2022, the airline announced that it would be allocating 12 award seats on every single Virgin Atlantic flight.
That kind of award availability is unmatched in the aviation industry and addresses one of the biggest bugbears of frequent flyers: the availability of mythical award space! Every Virgin flight now has 12 awards seats split as follows:
- 2 award seats in Upper Class.
- 2 award seats premium economy.
- 8 award seats in economy.
This award availability bonanza is one of the reasons that makes booking awards on Virgin metal easy and excellent value if you choose the right time of year.
Choose Standard (Off Peak) Rewards
When it comes to booking awards on Virgin Atlantic Metal, you need to be flexible with your dates to make the most of your points. Virgin operates 2 awards charts, a standard one with standard pricing and a peak award chart.
Sadly the differences between both can be substantial. For instance, round trip fare in Uppers Class between London and the US East Coast is 95,000 points Standard and 115,000 points during peak times. While that may not seem much of an increase, it is still a substantial hike in price of more than 21%. This increase kills a lot of the great value to be had for flight on Virgin Metal.
The dates are not the same every year. Usually Virgin Atlantic flying Club updates its Peak and Standard Reward dates once a year. Currently, the published calendar covers Standard Reward dates through June 2024. The current Standard Reward dates are as follows:
Maximizing your value and leveraging your Virgin points for their best value means you have to book your flights during one of the Standard Reward windows mentioned above.
Round Trip Awards From the East Coast to the UK from 95,000 points
Round-trip or one-way fares to and from the UK from the East coast are an absolute steal. Round trips in Virgin Upper Class will set you back 95,000 points plus taxes and fees, while one-way awards will only set you back half of that or 47,500 points plus taxes and fees.
When it comes to award availability, Virgin has got your back. Looking at a flight from New York JFK to London Heathrow on September 7, 2023, we found 4 seats in Upper Class for 47,500 points plus $876.70 in taxes and fees.
Looking at the return leg, things look equally good. We found 2 seats in Upper Class on September 21, 2023, for 47,500 points plus £628.71/~$755 in taxes and fees. Again the availability is pretty good, with a seat available on two separate flights.
Bear in mind that what Virgin Atlantic Classes, as the Midwest and the South, also benefit from the same award pricing. So you will find awards from the UK to Miami, Orlando, and Atlanta priced the same as those from New York.
Round Trip Awards From the West Coast to the UK from 135,000 points
If you are looking to head from the West Coast to the UK, there is also some fantastic value to be had. Round trip awards will set you back 135,000 points plus taxes and fees. Similar to other awards, if you are looking for a one-way award, they are priced at half of round trip fares.
Looking at one of the most popular routes between Los Angeles LAX and London LHR, it is clear the availability is a little less. This is primarily due to the fact that Virgin operates fewer flights to LAX than it does to New York. However, we still found a one-way Standard Reward seat on September 10, 2023, for the bargain price of 67,500 points plus $876.70 in taxes and fees.
Again for the return flight, there is less availability on the Los Angeles route than on the New York route due to how many flight Virgin operates. That being said, we still found award space available On September 20, 2023. A one-way Upper Class award will set you back 67,500 points plus £628.71/~$755 in taxes and fees.
Economy Awards Can be Outstanding Value
If you are looking to extract the maximum dollar value from your points, and don’t mind flying in economy, then there is some stunning value to be had using your points to fly from the East Coast to the UK in main cabin. Take, for instance, a one-way flight on June 7, 2023, in economy. Paying cash for the ticket will set you back a whopping $1,026.20.
However, if you opt to book the EXACT SAME FLIGHT using points, you would only need to hand over 10,000 points plus $150.7 in taxes and fees.
Essentially this means you are leveraging your 10,000 points for $875.5 of value ($1,026.20-$150.7). A quick visit to your calculator and this works out at an astonishing value of ¢8.75 per point, which is outstanding in anyone’s book. So even if you have a relatively small points balance and don’t mind flying main cabin, it is always worth your while comparing the cash price to the points price to see if you can get an outstanding deal!
Keep an Eye Out For Transfer Bonuses
One thing to keep an eye out for is transfer bonuses. Virgin is a partner with multiple flexible point currencies. Even at the time of writing and publication, you can receive a 30% bonus when you transfer Citi ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic. Transferring points for an award with such a bonus would be phenomenal value. Given the examples above, they would work out as follows:
- The East Coast, the Midwest, and South round trip awards will set you back 74,000 Citi ThankYou points plus taxes and fees.
- The West Coast round trip awards will set you back 104,000 Citi ThankYou points plus taxes and fees.
Transpacific ANA First Class Awards
Virgin is incredibly generous when it comes to booking ANA partner awards. By far, one of the best redemption options using points and miles ever is the Unicorn of booking ANA first-class awards between Japan and the US using Virgin Atlantic points. A quick look a the Virgin ANA partner award chart, and the value is clear to see.
First-class round-trip awards from the West Coast are 110,000 points, while from the East coast and Europe to Japan, they are a steal at 120,000 points. You can book one-way awards which are priced at half the price of a round trip. So, a one-way award from Japan to New York would set you back 60,000 points which is stunning value.
Finding ANA Award Space
There are two problems when it comes to finding the Unicorn of ANA first-class partner awards. First, you can not search directly on the Virgin website or app. To find the available award space, search on United.com or the Air Canada Aeroplan site. Since both display all available Start Alliance award space.
Once you have located the space, you need to call the Virgin Atlantic call center either in the US or UK, and give them the exact details of your desired itinerary. At this point, your award pace will be confirmed, or they will ask you to call back in a while to receive your confirmation.
While booking award space is painful involving phone calls, by far the most difficult aspect is finding the Unicorn in the first place. ANA is notoriously mean when it comes to first-class partner awards and hardly releases much space at all, unlike more plentiful economy awards.
You will need to put the miles in and keep searching regularly, hoping to strike it lucky and nail one of these awards. However, as difficult as it may be, with hard work, dedication, and diligence, you should be able to secure one of these legendary Virgin awards.
Over the years, the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has been left out in the cold and was not properly recognized for some of the stunning value it delivered to its members. However, now that the airline is a SkyTeam member, the program deserves more recognition, especially in terms of its outstanding value and availability for flights from the US to the UK. Which is your favorite Virgin Atlantic award? Let us know in the comments below.
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