13 Best Ways to Redeem Virgin Atlantic Miles for Max Value

ANA First Class

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Virgin Atlantic may not be one of the mileage programs that you are the most familiar with, but they are definitely worth paying attention to for a few reasons.

Flying Club miles do not expire for 36 months with account activity, including earning and redeeming miles, which is rather generous!

It is possible to earn miles by flying Virgin Atlantic or its partners, using a Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard from Bank of America, shopping through an online portal, and booking car rentals or hotel rooms with partnering programs.

The number of miles passengers earn depends on flight distance, cabin choice, ticket type, and elite status. Flying Club has 3 elite tiers: Red, Silver and Gold.

Red members earn the standard number of miles, Silver members receive a 30-percent boost in addition to standard miles, and Gold members receive a 60-percent boost in addition to the standard number of miles earned.

For example, a Red member traveling round-trip in economy between London and Los Angeles will earn 10,908 redeemable miles. With a 30-percent boost, Silver members will earn 14,180 miles; Gold members will earn 17,452 miles with a 60-percent boost.

How to Boost Your Virgin Atlantic Miles

Virgin Atlantic miles is one of the easiest to earn, thanks to handy transfer partners. In fact, it is transfer partners with all the major transferable currencies: Chase, American Express, Marriott, Citi, and Capital One.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Credit Cards

Chase Ultimate Rewards points also transfer to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club at a 1:1 ratio. (Remember, Chase points are so easy to earn and they have lots of valuable airline and hotel transfer partners)

Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card - This is our favorite starter card that earns valuable points and comes with a big 60,000 sign up bonus (valued at $750), after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® - A simple, no annual fee card that earns you 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® - This is a premium travel rewards card with a higher annual fee, but it'll get you into a lot of airport lounges (Priority Pass). There's also a $300 travel credit per year. The current sign up bonus is 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Business Owner? See our article on Chase business cards that earn Ultimate Rewards.

American Express Membership Rewards Credit Cards

American Express Membership Rewards transfer at a 1:1 ratio to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

Recommended Amex Cards (Personal)

The Platinum Card® from American Express - There's currently a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months. This is our favorite card for getting into 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide (including Priority Pass) and we get about $1,500+ in value from the card every year.

Plus, get up to $200 in Uber credits annually ($15 per month and a $20 bonus in December) — and up to $200 in annual credit for airline incidental charges (e.g. baggage fees). For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, click here.
American Express® Gold Card - We love using this card as it earns 4x points at restaurants worldwide and 4x points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x).

With a welcome bonus of 35,000 points after you spend $2,000 in your first 3 months and a $100 airfare credit per year, for many this is an easy addition to your wallet. For rates and fees of the Gold Card, click here.

Business Owner? See our article on Amex business cards that earn Membership Rewards.

Marriott Credit Cards

You can earn Marriott points and transfer those to Virgin Atlantic at a transfer rate of 3:1. Plus, for every 60,000 Marriott points that you transfer, you’ll receive an extra 5,000 Flying Club miles bonus.

Recommended Marriott Cards

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Card - earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Get automatic silver elite status each account anniversary year; and a free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points (terms apply). A solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Business Card, click here.

The 13 Best Ways to Use Your Virgin Miles

In order to book any partner awards with Virgin Atlantic miles (except Delta), you are going to have to get on the phone. It is best to confirm that space is available with another tool before you make the call.

For example, you can check Singapore availability at Singapore.com and South African Airways availability on United.com. The major exception to this is Delta Airlines. In many ways, Virgin Atlantic’s online search engine is better than Delta’s own search engine for Delta flights. This is due to the fact that award prices are not variable on Virgin Atlantic, resulting in less confusion.

If you’re using Virgin Atlantic to search for Delta Airlines’ availability, you may be unable to search online for travel to certain cities, such as Seoul-Incheon (ICN). To get around this, you can simply use ExpertFlyer or Delta.com. Another option if you’re still confused by the variable award buckets put forth by Delta is to use Korean Air, which is clunky but somewhat reliable.

Once you have confirmed availability for the flights and dates you would like to travel, go ahead and give Virgin Atlantic a call. Remember that you cannot mix partners on award tickets.

When you have enough Virgin miles for a trip, you can get some ideas by looking below and choosing one that appeals to you.

Keep in mind there are tons of different ways to use your miles, don’t be limited to just the options we have highlighted!

1. Fly ANA First Class to Japan for 110,000-120,000 Miles Round-Trip

ANA First Class
Arguably the best sweet spot in the business: round-trip first class on ANA to Japan from 110,000 Virgin Atlantic points. Image property of Stephen Au.

Without a doubt, this is one of the most valuable sweet spots in the entire world. This ranking isn’t just for Virgin Atlantic redemptions. Whereas most airlines charge upwards of 200,000 miles for round-trip first class to Asia, Virgin Atlantic charges a little more than half of that.

This is a timeless and classic aspirational redemption on one of the best first class airlines in the world. These first class flights are on All Nippon Airways, which is one of the largest airlines in Japan.

Virgin Atlantic divides the U.S. and has incredible premium cabin values:

ANA First Class U.S. to Japan:

  • Eastern & Central U.S. to Japan: 120,000 miles roundtrip
  • Western U.S. & Canada to Japan: 110,000 miles roundtrip

ANA Business Class U.S. to Japan:

  • Eastern & Central U.S. to Japan: 95,000 miles roundtrip
  • Western U.S. & Canada to Japan: 90,000 miles roundtrip

Hot Tip: Check out Stephen’s review of ANA’s 777 business class

If you want to continue elsewhere in Asia, unfortunately you are charged two separate awards so this deal really is only great for travel to Japan. Expect taxes and fees to be around $300 for a round-trip flight per person. 

2. Fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Between the U.S. and U.K. (Starting at 95,000 Miles)

virgin atlantic upper class
Use your Flying Club miles to fly in Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class. Image courtesy of virgin-atlantic.com.

Onto the first in our list of best ways to use Virgin Atlantic miles: flying Upper Class! Economy standard-season award flights between the United Kingdom and the United States vary between 20,000-30,000 Flying Club miles.

The award chart is more or less distance-based, with East Coast cities requiring fewer miles than West Coast cities. Peak-season awards require 20,000 more miles based on a round-trip booking.

Premium economy tickets can be booked for 35,000-55,000 miles depending on the route, with Upper Class awards priced between 95,000-135,000 Virgin miles.

Hot Tip: Need Help Booking? Check out our step-by-step guide to booking Virgin Atlantic Upper Class!

Keep in mind that Virgin Atlantic imposes rather high fuel surcharges on its award flights, and you will also be subject to the high government and airport taxes when flying through the U.K.

For example, fees on round-trip flights between the U.K. and the U.S. range from $440 to $500.

We’ve seen plenty of airfare sales that let travelers purchase a flight to Europe in economy for that amount, so an economy class redemption might not be the best use of Flying Club miles!

Surcharges on premium economy awards range from $790 to $830, while fees in the Upper Class start at $1,100 and go up to $1,210.

Peak dates in 2017 include March 31-April 18, June 22-September 6, and December 13-December 31.

If you’ve already purchased a flight, it is possible to upgrade an eligible existing reservation booked with cash. A flexible economy ticket can be upgraded to premium economy with miles at a 50% discount, or to an Upper Class seat at 25% off.

Hot Tip: Use The Platinum Card® from American Express to get Global Entry and TSA PreCheck to make your trip go more smoothly.

3. Fly Delta to Hawaii (Starting at 40,000 Miles)

hawaii
Fly to Hawaii on Delta with your Flying Club miles, and you’ll know exactly many miles it will cost ahead of time. Image courtesy of hawaii.com.

Instead of providing a unique chart for awards booked on Delta metal, Flying Club simply applies Delta’s own mileage requirements for redemptions. Of course, Delta itself does not publish an award chart, but these redemption values are on par with Delta’s low-level awards.

For example, a domestic round-trip award costs 25,000 Flying Club miles — an industry standard. Flights to Europe come to 60,000 miles, which is also similar to most U.S.-based carriers.

Award flights to the Caribbean come to 35,000 miles, and awards to South America are 45,000. The sweet spot seems to be on award flights between the U.S. and Hawaii. Those require just 40,000 Flying Club miles, compared with 45,000 SkyMiles that Delta charges.

Another notable exception here is that select routes to the U.S. originating in the U.K. come to just 40,000 miles in economy and 90,000 miles in business/first class.

Those destinations include Atlanta, New York, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Salt Lake City. Origin cities include London Heathrow, Edinburgh (to JFK only), Glasgow (to JFK only starting in May 2017) and Manchester (to Atlanta only).

However, remember the potential for high fuel surcharges as these flights originate overseas.

When travel originates in the United States (for flights to Europe), it can save you a bundle in fuel surcharges!

4. Fly on Delta One Suites (Starting at 50,000 Miles)

Delta Air Delta One
Delta One Suites. Image courtesy of delta.com

We’ve put together the comprehensive guide on the best ways to book Delta One, which also includes Delta One Suites, their newest business class product. Delta One Suites features sliding doors, comfortable Westin bedding, and an awesome soft product.

One of the best ways to book Delta One Suites is with Virgin Atlantic miles. Here’s a quick breakdown of some hot routes and their mileage prices:

RouteVirgin Atlantic miles cost (one-way)
U.S. to Europe50,000
Detroit (DTW) – Amsterdam (AMS)50,000
U.S. to Asia60,000
Detroit (DTW) – Tokyo-Narita (NRT)60,000
Detroit (DTW) – Beijing (PEK)60,000
Detroit (DTW) – Shanghai (PVG)60,000
Detroit (DTW) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)60,000
Atlanta (ATL) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)60,000
Atlanta (ATL) – Tokyo-Narita (NRT)60,000
Los Angeles (LAX) – Shanghai (PVG)60,000
Los Angeles (LAX) – Tokyo-Haneda (HND)60,000
Seattle (SEA) – Tokyo-Narita (NRT)60,000
Minneapolis (MSP) – Tokyo-Haneda (HND)60,000
Minneapolis (MSP) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)60,000
U.S. to South West Pacific75,000
Los Angeles (LAX) – Sydney (SYD)75,000

As you can see, there’s a massive emphasis on delivering their best business class product to hubs in Asia. The icing on the cake is that fuel surcharges are not passed on, reducing your out of pocket costs to as little as $5.60 per person!

5. Fly From New Zealand to Oceania on Air New Zealand (Starting at Just 15,000 Miles) 

Intra-New Zealand redemptions come to just 15,000 Virgin miles in economy, but business class is not available.

Awards between New Zealand and Australia (including the Pacific Islands) come to 20,000 Flying Club miles in economy and 30,000 miles in business class, which is pretty reasonable.

As with other award flights, these can only be booked over the phone.

Hot Tip: If you’re staying in a hotel, you might want to use a hotel credit card like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Card or Hilton Honors™ Surpass Card from American ExpressYou’ll get Gold elite status benefits and earn additional points for your stays!

6. Fly From New Zealand to the U.S. (Starting at 125,000 Miles in Business)

air new zealand business class
You’ll be ready to hit the water swimming when you fly Air New Zealand’s business class from Los Angeles or San Francisco to Auckland. Image courtesy of airnewzealand.com

The award chart lists a round-trip flight from Los Angeles to the U.K. for 50,000 Flying Club miles in economy and 75,000 miles in business class, which are fantastic rates. However, it is difficult to find availability. This is for Air New Zealand’s unique, fifth-freedom flight between Los Angeles (LAX) and London-Heathrow (LHR).

If you’re able to snag a seat on this route, consider yourself lucky as Air New Zealand doesn’t release many business-class seats to partners.

You’ll find a similar situation applies to long-haul awards between New Zealand and the United States. In theory, a flight between Auckland and Los Angeles or San Francisco costs 80,000 Flying Club miles in economy and 125,000 miles in business class.

In practice, however, those awards are virtually unavailable. The key exception is this: During the first half of a year, Air New Zealand may periodically dump a huge number of business class award seats for travel during low season (June-August with most awards in July). 

For those still interested in trying out the airline, awards between New Zealand and Asia tend to be more available for booking through partners. Per the Flying Club chart, these round-trip flights can be booked for 60,000 miles in economy and 80,000 miles in business class.

7. Travel Within Australia on Virgin Australia (Starting at 15,000 Miles)

virgin australia business class
Fly around Australia in style with Virgin Australia’s business class! Image courtesy of virginaustralia.com.

Redeeming Flying Club miles on domestic Virgin Australia routes can be a good option if cash flights are expensive.

Redemption rates vary depending on the city pairs, from 15,000-40,000 Flying Club miles based on a round-trip booking. For example, Perth to Cocos Islands comes to 20,000 miles, and Sydney to Cairns costs 40,000 miles. Fuel surcharges do not apply to domestic tickets.

Passengers can book one-way award flights for half the price of a round-trip award, meaning it’s possible to combine a few one-way awards for a tour of Australia.

Hot Tip: Check out more fantastic cabin photos of Virgin Australia’s Biz Class in our review here!

8. Fly to Senegal in Business Class on South African Airways (25,000 Miles)

South African Airways Business Class
South African Airways has a stunning business class product, which can be had for a bargain when using Virgin Atlantic miles. Image credit: ausbt.com.au

If you’re looking for another niche but epic sweet spot, consider the award chart for South African Airways using Virgin Atlantic miles. For only 50,000 miles round-trip or 25,000 miles one-way, you can fly from Washington D.C. (IAD) to Dakar (DSS), which is the capital of Senegal.

This West African country is a destination with a vast history and rich culture to soak in. If this wasn’t enough, you’ll find that the nonstop flight features fully lie-flat seats on the A330 in business class, which is phenomenal.

South African Airways is known for being a great airline offering stellar service, and these brand-new seats should definitely convince you to use this sweet spot.

To summarize, you can fly on this 8-hour route one-way in business class for only 25,000 miles or a total of 16 hours round-trip in business class for 50,000 miles!

This is the route I’m talking about:

  • Washington D.C. (IAD) – Dakar (DSS)

There are other fifth freedom routes on South African Airways such as from Washington D.C. (IAD) to Accra (ACC) in Ghana, but this route is priced at more than double the cost (110,000 miles compared to 50,000 miles for round-trip business class) despite being 2 hours longer.

9. Travel Within Africa Continent on South African Airways (Starting at 20,000 Miles)

South African Airways' business class
Enjoy South African Airways’ business class service while exploring the continent of Africa. Image courtesy of www.flysaa.com

Flying Club provides rather lucrative options for award travel within South Africa as well as between South Africa and the following African destinations:

Beira, Mozambique; Blantyre, Malawi; Bulawayo, Zimbabwe; Gaborone, Botswana; Harare, Zimbabwe; Lilongwe, Malawi; Livingstone, Zambia; Lusaka, Zambia; Maputo, Mozambique; Maseru, Lesotho; Matsapha, Swaziland; Ndola, Zambia; Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe; Walvis Bay, Namibia; and Windhoek, Namibia.

Round-trip economy tickets on these routes come to 20,000 miles, and business class tickets are 30,000 miles.

A slightly higher cost of redemption applies to award flights booked between South Africa and the following destinations:

Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire; Dakar, Senegal; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Entebbe, Uganda; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Lagos, Nigeria; Luanda, Angola; Mauritius; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; Pointe-Noire, Congo; Cotonou, Benin; Brazzaville, Congo; and Douala, Cameroon.

Round-trip tickets on these routes would be 40,000 Virgin miles for economy, and business class tickets come to 50,000 miles.

Open-jaws are allowed, but the point of origin and return must be the same. A maximum of 4 legs are allowed.

Hot Tip: When you’re flying multiple legs and you need to check your bag, the chances of it getting lost increase. You can minimize that risk by getting baggage insurance from a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express!

10. Fly on ANA Within Japan (Starting at 15,000 Miles)

Flying Club offers an interesting opportunity to redeem miles for ANA-operated flights. The award chart shows the same redemption level—15,000 miles—for all round-trip intra-Japan flights in economy class, no matter the distance.

Whether a flight is 600 miles or 4,000 miles, it doesn’t matter: it will cost 15,000 Flying Club miles to book.

Neither business class nor first class redemptions are available, and these redemptions can only be made by phone.

11. West Coast Mainland U.S. to Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines (Starting at 40,000 Miles)

hawaiian airlines
Just in case you couldn’t find availability to Hawaii on Delta, you can also check Hawaiian! Image courtesy of hawaiianairlines.com.

Flights from the West Coast to Hawaii and back require 40,000 Flying Club miles in economy and 80,000 miles in first class. East Coast cities cost a bit more at 80,000 Flying Club miles in economy and 130,000 miles in first class.

This redemption clearly benefits those located on the West Coast!

In comparison, it is possible to book cheaper awards to Hawaii using British Airways Avios or Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles for 25,000 and 30,000 miles, respectively, provided there’s availability on American Airlines or Delta Air Lines.

When booked directly with Delta, United, or American, this ticket would cost 45,000 SkyMiles, 45,000 MileagePlus miles, or 45,000 AAdvantage miles at the saver level. At least Flying Club provides redemption rates that are competitive with U.S. airlines!

The best part about these redemptions is that Hawaiian Airlines doesn’t charge exorbitant fuel surcharges on award tickets.

12. Fly Between the Hawaiian Islands (Starting at 15,000 Miles)

For those already on the islands, it is possible to use Flying Club miles to island hop!

An inter-island itinerary requires just 15,000 miles in economy or 30,000 in first class. Because one-ways and open-jaws are allowed to be booked with Hawaiian Airlines, the legs can be booked as separate segments, allowing travelers to visit multiple Hawaiian Islands on the same trip.

13. Fly Transcontinental on Delta One (22,500 Miles)

Delta One
Delta One is one of the best ways to fly business class domestically.

Delta Airlines only charges 22,500 miles one-way for business class within the United States (except Hawaii) and Canada. Specifically, an area of huge value is on the premium transcontinental route between Los Angeles (LAX) – New York City (JFK).

These are among the most expensive business class tickets, and using 22,500 miles plus $5.60 can get you 6 hours in fully lie-flat business class. This is a great opportunity, especially considering the cash price of these tickets.

Using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles With Airline Partners

Flying Club members can earn miles by flying the following airlines: Delta Air Lines, Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, Hawaiian Airlines, Air France, KLM, Air China, ANA, Virgin Australia, South African Airways, and Scandinavian Airlines (SAS).

Redeeming Virgin miles is allowed on all partners except SAS and Air France/KLM. Award seats can be booked up to 331 days in advance.

List of Virgin Atlantic Airline Partners

Virgin Atlantic Airline Partners
Delta Air LinesSingapore Airlines
Air New ZealandVirgin Australia
South African AirwaysAll Nippon Airways (ANA)
Hawaiian AirlinesAir China
Air France/KLM (Mileage earning only)Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) (Mileage earning only)

Hot Tip: For more information on Virgin Atlantic’s loyalty program, check out the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Loyalty Program page

In Conclusion

While Virgin Atlantic Flying Club often charges higher fees than many competing airlines for their operated flights, they do still offer a handful of good redemptions that you shouldn’t count out…especially since Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles are so easy to get a hold of!

We hope our list of the best ways to use Virgin Atlantic miles was helpful, now go earn some points and start saving up. Happy redeeming!

FAQ

What are Flying Club miles?

Flying Club is the frequent flyer mile program of Virgin Atlantic.

What are Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles worth?

The value of Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles depends on what kind of ticket you are redeeming with your points. Most people would value their Flying Club miles around 1.2 cents each.

However, it is possible to find redemptions that are much better. For example, a business class flight on Virgin Australia could have values over 5 cents per mile!

Who are Virgin Atlantic's partners?

Virgin Atlantic is not part of a formal alliance, but they have several partners:

Are Virgin Atlantic Flying Club tickets refundable?

Virgin Atlantic charges very reasonable fees to change or cancel an award ticket. Change fees are only $30, and a cancellation with mileage redeposit costs $50.

When do Flying Club miles expire?

Flying Club miles expire after 3 years if there has not been account activity.

Caroline Lupini

About Caroline Lupini

Caroline Lupini always enjoyed traveling, but it became her goal to do as much as possible after a 3-week trip around Europe in 2011. In March 2014, Caroline left her job and embarked on nearly full-time travels.  As a frequent traveler, frequent flyer miles have played a large role in planning her trips. Caroline has enjoyed discovering the ins and outs of how to maximize different types of miles, hotel points, and transferable points currencies.

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2 comments

  1. David Farmer · March 9, 2019 · Reply

    It is easy to accrue the miles – not so easy to spend them. For the second year in a row I am having difficulty finding ANY round trip Premium seats to the Caribbean (this year, hopefully, Tobago) between November 2019 and February 2020.

    • Christine M Archbell · March 18, 2019 · Reply

      I totally agree with you. We go to St Lucia twice a year and are not having any luck with getting a companion ticket or any other reward or upgrade. It is so frustrating.

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