Virgin Atlantic might not be a member of one of the three major airline alliances, but don’t overlook its Flying Club program. There are a bunch of great ways to use Virgin Atlantic miles to book flights in economy, business or first class.
Even better, it’s quite easy to earn Flying Club miles thanks to several transfer partners. Let’s take a look at some of the great ways you can use Virgin Atlantic miles as well as some tips and tricks to make finding award space and booking easy for you.
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Before we dive into some of the great ways to use Virgin miles, let’s briefly review how easy it is to earn them. Seriously, just about anyone can stumble into Flying Club miles thanks to transfer partners.
You can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points, Chase Ultimate Rewards points and Citi ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic at a 1:1 ratio. Generally, these transfers are instant so you don’t have to worry about award space disappearing while you wait.
In a pinch, you can also transfer Marriott Bonvoy points at 3:1 ratio. However, these transfers can take a couple of days. Finally, you can also earn Virgin miles directly with the Bank of America co-branded credit card.
Whether you’re a beginner just starting with Chase cards or a points veteran looking for a card to help you earn Virgin miles, you have plenty of options.
The best time to transfer Amex Membership Rewards points or Citi ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic is when they’re running a transfer bonus promotion. Generally, both Amex and Citi will run a bonus of up to 30% each calendar year.
If you’re lucky enough to time it right, you might be able to get a screaming deal when you book one of these flights below.
Now, let’s get into the good stuff!
There’s no need to hide this one further down the list. Booking All Nippon Airways (ANA) first class might be the most popular and exciting way to use Virgin Atlantic miles out there. Considering that ANA is revamping its first class cabins and calling each seat “The Suite,” the experience is only getting better.
You can expect Krug champagne, fancy Japanese whisky, and a fantastic meal when you fly first class. To book, you’ll need 110,000 Virgin miles round-trip from the west coast. From the east coast and the central U.S., you’ll need 120,000 miles round-trip.
Keep in mind that Virgin Atlantic can only book round-trip award tickets on ANA. If you need a one-way ticket, you’ll need to book with another program such as Avianca LifeMiles, Air Canada Aeroplan or United MileagePlus.
Seriously, if you have the points to book, add this one to your flight bucket list.
If you don’t quite have the points for first class or you’d just prefer to book more trips with the points, business or economy class might be more your style. Nothing wrong with that!
Like first class, ANA is currently revamping business class on its Boeing 777-300s. While the business class product is still nice thanks to solid meal options and great service from the crew, the new cabin is next level. It’s been branded “The Room” and is said to rival Qatar Airways Qsuites. Talk about high praise!
You can book ANA business class from the west coast for 90,000 miles round-trip and from the east coast/central U.S. for 95,000 miles. You might be able to save a few miles by booking with ANA Mileage Club miles but it’s quite a bit easier to earn Virgin miles.
For those looking to fly economy, the experience might not be full of luxury with lounge access – unless you have Star Alliance Gold status – but ANA still does a great job. Again, the crew are fantastic so while you might not have as much space to stretch out, you can still count on being treated well.
You can book round-trip economy on ANA for 60,000 Virgin miles from the west coast and 65,000 miles from the east coast/central U.S.
With Air New Zealand, you can book one-way flights with Virgin miles and that’s really important since award space can be super hard to find. Economy class can be hard enough but you’d better have some very flexible travel dates if you want to book business class.
Now, let’s say you can find business class award space on an Air New Zealand flight out of Chicago (ORD), Houston (IAH) or Los Angeles (LAX). If you do, you can book a one-way award for 62,500 Virgin miles which compares quite favorably to 90,000 United miles or 80,000 LifeMiles or Aeroplan miles.
Now, the business class seat is a little out of date and isn’t the most private, but being able to lie down and skip a connection in Asia to get to New Zealand shouldn’t be dismissed too easily!
For 40,000 miles, you can book a one-way economy ticket. This isn’t quite as good of a deal as you can also use 40,000 miles with LifeMiles and United. It’s just easier to get your hands on Virgin Atlantic miles thanks to multiple transfer partners.
When it comes to booking international flights on Delta, its own SkyMiles program often requires a laughable number of miles. Yes, they’ve been better about releasing economy awards at more humane award rates, but the dynamic nature of Delta’s awards is exhausting.
With business class awards, even when they actually release them at what we’d call saver level, the rates still aren’t great. That’s where Virgin Atlantic comes into play. Flying Club award rates on Delta flights to Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe are often much better than what you’d get with SkyMiles.
Of course, the biggest challenge is that Delta so often doesn’t release saver level award space that can be booked by partners such as Virgin Atlantic.
Pro-Tip: Don’t use Virgin miles to book Delta flights to/from the U.K. or from Europe as the surcharges are stupid high!
This is, perhaps, the only time I’d suggest using Flying Club miles to book a flight on Virgin Atlantic from the U.S. to the U.K. Sure, if you don’t have many points and miles and you’re okay with steep surcharges, booking Upper Class either to/from the U.K. might make sense. However, I imagine many people won’t want to pay $675 in taxes/fees.
Instead, I’d say Virgin Atlantic premium economy to London (not from London) is the sweet spot for Virgin’s own flights. The surcharges on a one-way ticket will put the total taxes/fees at ~$275 which isn’t great, but you get more legroom, a seat that reclines more, a better meal and some sparkling wine.
The number of miles you’ll need will depend on your departure airport in the U.S. Use the table below to find the number of miles you’ll need to fly to London.
|Departure Airport||Miles Required|
|Boston (BOS), Newark (EWR), New York (JFK), Washington Dulles (IAD)||17,500 miles|
|Atlanta (ATL), Miami (MIA), Orlando (MCO)||22,500 miles|
|Las Vegas (LAS), Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), Seattle (SEA)||27,500 miles|
Virgin Atlantic just made redemptions available on Air France and KLM in February 2020. At first glance, one-way business class tickets to Europe for 48,500 Flying Club miles on off-peak dates looks like a solid option. Just remember that Virgin will pass on the surcharges to you.
It’s also important to remember that this option only works from the east coast to select destinations in Europe including:
|Zone 1 for Flights on Air France and KLM|
Unlike with awards booked on Virgin’s other partners, the miles required are not calculated per segment but instead by origin and destination. This means you can book a flight on KLM from New York (JFK) to Copenhagen (CPH) via Amsterdam (AMS) for no extra miles.
Virgin Atlantic also has an award chart for short flights within Europe. If you want to fly to a country not listed in the terms for KLM or Air France, you’ll be charged for both segments. As an example, I searched for flights from JFK to Frankfurt (FRA). Since Germany is not listed in either Zone 1 or Zone 2 (these cover Europe), Virgin required additional miles for the Amsterdam to Frankfurt segment.
Here’s an option that is so often overlooked and I know exactly why. South African Airways is, unsurprisingly, headquartered in South Africa. However, they operate a fifth freedom route from Washington Dulles (IAD) to Accra (ACC).
Basically, a fifth freedom flight is one in which an airline flies between two countries (neither of which is where it is headquartered) to or from its home country. In this case, South African Airways operates a flight from Johannesburg to Accra to Washington, DC and the reverse.
You can book a one-way business class ticket on this route for 55,000 miles or economy class for 35,000 miles. Either way you look at it, they’re two of the best ways to book an award ticket to the continent of Africa.
Jumping back to ANA for a second, here’s one for our friends in Hawaii – and anyone who likes to nest one trip within another. We’re talking ANA first class from Honolulu (HNL) to Tokyo Narita (NRT) or Haneda (HND).
As a fun twist, ANA operates Airbus A380s on this route. If you haven’t flown on an A380, it’s worth the experience before they’re no longer flying – Airbus is ending production of this aircraft. I’d describe takeoff as feeling like you’re taking an easy jog down the runway and then suddenly you’re in the air.
For a round-trip first class ticket, you’ll need 90,000 Virgin Atlantic miles. Not too shabby for flights listed at nearly 9.5 hours to Tokyo and nearly 7 hours to Honolulu. To book business class, you can use 70,000 miles round-trip while economy requires 45,000 miles.
If you’re piecing together an extended trip to both Asia and New Zealand (and maybe Australia), flights to Auckland on Air New Zealand might come in handy. After a visit to Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore or China, you can book a non-stop flight to New Zealand.
With Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, you’ll only need 40,000 miles for a one-way business class ticket. Think about that, 40,000 miles for a flight listed at 10.5 hours. That’s one heck of a deal!
You can also book economy for 30,000 miles which is solid but you could get the flight for only 20,000 LifeMiles. Virgin’s advantage, of course, is that it has more bank transfer partners so the miles are easier to earn.
While many airline programs will charge you 10% of a cash ticket for a lap infant when you book an international award ticket, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is much more reasonable. Rather than hit you with an extra cash cost – quite steep on business and first class award bookings, Virgin has an infant award chart.
It’s pretty simple, these are the round-trip rates (one-way is half the miles) by class of service:
- Economy class: 2,000 miles
- Premium economy: 4,000 miles
- Business class: 10,000 miles
- First Class: 14,000
While Virgin Atlantic provides some great award booking opportunities, there are a few small hurdles. Fortunately, they’re easy enough to navigate if you know a couple tricks of the trade. The two biggest hurdles are knowing how to find award space and how to book.
Here’s an easy guide to follow to make your search and booking process easier:
|Airline Partner||Where to Search||How to Book|
|Air China||United||Call Virgin Atlantic|
|Air France||Virgin Atlantic||Book online with Virgin Atlantic|
|Air New Zealand||United||Call Virgin Atlantic|
|All Nippon Airways (ANA)||United||Call Virgin Atlantic|
|Delta||Virgin Atlantic||Book online with Virgin Atlantic|
|Hawaiian Airlines||Call Virgin Atlantic||Call Virgin Atlantic|
|KLM||Virgin Atlantic||Book online with Virgin Atlantic|
|Singapore Airlines||Aeroplan||Call Virgin Atlantic|
|South African Airways||United||Call Virgin Atlantic|
|Virgin Atlantic||Virgin Atlantic||Book online with Virgin Atlantic|
|Virgin Australia||Delta||Call Virgin Atlantic|
One of the aspects of the Flying Club program I really like is the ability to hold award space for 48 hours. Even if I can find the award space and book right from the Virgin site, I prefer to call (1-800-365-9500) to put the space on hold while I transfer points to my account.
Don’t worry, calls are a breeze as their phone agents are some of the best in the industry. Of course, if you already have miles in your Flying Club account, there’s no need to call if you can book online.
Hopefully, it’s very clear. You want to know how to use Virgin Atlantic miles because they are among the easiest to earn and there are some great sweet spots in their many award charts. While there might be a couple of hurdles to finding the award space you want and booking, just use the above as a guide and you shouldn’t have any trouble.
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