If you follow these tips for redeeming Virgin Flying Club Miles, you’ll feel brilliant, even if you’re not.
As is often the case with airlines that aren’t a member of one of the three major airline alliances — Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is often overlooked by too many travelers. As anyone who has used the Virgin program can tell you, that’s a shame as there are some fantastic redemption options for your Virgin Flying Club Miles or credit card points sitting there, just waiting to be booked.
First Thing To Know: Virgin Atlantic Airline Partners
Virgin Atlantic partners with several very useful airlines including Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways (ANA), South African Airways, Virgin Australia (when they reboot?) and, yes, even Delta. You can earn Virgin Miles when you fly on these airlines, and you can “burn” mile on these airlines too.
That means when it’s time to cash in your miles, you can use them on Virgin flights, but also on any of these other fun options which open up the rest of the world. Yep, think South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Asia and more.
Oh, and in case you didn’t know, Flying Club miles are some of the easiest to earn so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting your hands on all the miles you need for your next ticket. There’s at least 23 ways to earn Virgin Miles from home, many without even flying.
Throw in the fact that Virgin will let you hold award tickets for up to 48 hours and has fantastic phone reps to help, and it’s easy to see why people love booking award tickets with Flying Club miles.
How To Earn Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles are some of the easiest to earn thanks to partnerships with three transferable points programs: American Express Membership Rewards, and in the USA, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points.
Bank of America also issues a US co-branded Virgin Atlantic card that earns Flying Club miles directly, and the card often has attractive welcome bonuses.
Each of these programs transfers to Virgin at a 1:1 ratio and offer several credit cards in the USA or UK that can help you rack up points quickly. Some of our favorites include:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- Chase Ink Business Preferred Card
- American Express Gold Card (Learn More)
- American Express Business Gold Card (Learn More)
- Citi Prestige (Learn More)
- Citi Premier (Learn More)
For our friends in the UK, you can also transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to your Virgin Flying Club account, or earn miles directly via a co-branded Virgin Atlantic card issued by Virgin Money. Rumor has it, improvements to the Virgin Money card are on the way. Basically, anything that helps you earn more miles is great, and with Virgin, there’s plenty of opportunity.
Brilliant Sweet Spots To Redeem Virgin Miles
Ok, now that you’ve got the outline of the program and how to earn tons of miles, now is the time to spend them. While using miles on Virgin Atlantic flights can be great, it’s the clever sweet spots with Virgin airline partners that really unlock the maximum potential, like…
Possibly the most discussed way to use Virgin Atlantic miles is to fly ANA first class to Tokyo, this might be one of the best ways to use miles on the planet. You can book a round-trip first class flight on ANA from the western US or Europe for 110,000 miles. When you consider the next closest option requires 160,000 miles, this is the clear winner if you can book round-trip.
If business class, including ANA’s stunning new “The Room” cabin is good enough, it’s just 95,000 miles.
So, what is the experience like? Well, for starters you’ll be provided a pair of pajamas, a sweater — it never fits me — and a hardshell Samsonite amenity kit when you board. There’s something fun about amenity kits that look like luggage. Once you’ve settled into your seat, a crew member will offer you something to drink.
If you like Krug champagne, you’re in luck as ANA first class has plenty to go around. If you’re a whiskey fan, make sure you enjoy a glass of the Hibiki 21 Year — it often retails for hundreds of dollars. When it comes to meals, you’ll have a choice between a Japanese option and an international option. Finally, if you’re not used to amazing service, you’re going to be blown away by the crews that work ANA first class. They’re amazing.
Make sure you check out our complete review of ANA first class for a complete rundown of the experience and some mouthwatering photos.
For those who live in central or eastern US, you can book this round-trip first class flight for 120,000 Virgin miles. Just remember that Virgin Atlantic will require more miles if you want to connect beyond Tokyo. Fortunately, surcharges aren’t terrible so the total taxes/fees out of the US will be about $270. Out of the UK, you can expect about £355 in taxes/fees.
Delta One Business Class USA To Europe, Or Asia to USA
Booking Delta flights with miles from Europe to the US can mean some steep surcharges that really jack up the taxes/fees. However, if you book a flight from the US to Europe on Delta, you can avoid those surcharges and get a great deal. Not only are Flying Club miles easier to earn than Delta SkyMiles, but you can use fewer to book a one-way business class ticket to Europe. At only 50,000 miles, that’s less than half of the 105,000 miles Delta can require.
While only a few flights have the new Delta One Suites, even if you’re flying an older A330 with reverse herringbone business class cabins or a 767 with staggered seating, having lie-flat makes it much easier to catch some shuteye across the Atlantic.
New Zealand is a beautiful country that tops many people’s list of dream destinations, and if it’s not on yours, it probably should be.. The tough part once you get there is finding the motivation to leave. If you’ve been to Queenstown, you know exactly what we mean. If you haven’t been, start thinking about it.
Now, as expected, getting to New Zealand isn’t always easy but Virgin Atlantic miles provide a great way to book business class flights on Air New Zealand if you can find award space. Rather than using 90,000 United miles or 80,00 Aeroplan miles, you can book a one-way business class ticket from the USA to New Zealand with only 62,500 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club MIles, including gateways Chicago (ORD), Houston (IAH) or Los Angeles (LAX).
Sadly, there’s no great link for this redemption from the UK, but it’s still great once you’re there to hop around.
Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy From The US
Stepping away from the world of business and first class for a second, this is the only flight on Virgin Atlantic that makes our list. If you live on the east coast and book a non-stop premium economy ticket you can get a solid deal on your flight to London. Since Virgin Atlantic has a standard season and a peak season for award tickets on its own flights, you’ll need to make sure you check the dates of your travel.
If the date you want to travel falls during the standard season, you’ll only need 17,500 Flying Club miles for the ticket. During peak season, you’d need 27,500 miles. Regardless of the date, you’re looking at about $250 in taxes/fees. Not bad for a lot more comfort, especially on an overnight flight. Here’s a review of Virgin Premium Economy.
Availability tends to be fantastic in premium economy on Virgin Atlantic, and I’m regularly am able to book my family multiple seats, even in a last minute pinch. I’d say this is one of the best ways to fly across the pond for a relatively small amount of cash, and points.
Delta One Suites USA To Australia
We’ll go ahead and get this out of the way now, business class award space from the USA to Australia on either Delta or Virgin Australia out of LAX can be super tough, but it’s not impossible, particularly for travel in 2020 or 2021.
For your effort of finding available seats using your money, you’ll be able to book a spot in Delta One Suites for only 75,000 Virgin Atlantic miles. That’s one heck of a way to book a lie-flat business class seat complete with a door and direct aisle access for a nearly 15-hour flight.
For those who love finding ways to use the fewest miles between continents, it’s hard to beat a one-way business class ticket to Africa for only 25,000 miles. At this rate, you can book South African Airways business class from Washington Dulles (IAD) to Dakar, Senegal (DSS) — or vice versa.
Unfortunately, South African isn’t flying right now, but there’s talk of a rebirth.
The A330-200 that South African operates on this route is a bit older but you still get a lie-flat seat on this 7.5-hour flight to Senegal. The total taxes/fees on this one should come to around $270.
For our friends in Hawaii and Japan or anyone putting together a fun trip, you can book a round-trip first class ticket on one of ANA’s newly acquired Airbus A380s. While the color scheme has been updated a bit from the first class on the Boeing 777, the layout is the same and the service will still be excellent. Here’s a review of that experience.
Whether you’re heading to Honolulu for some much-needed relaxation or heading to Tokyo for some amazing food, it’s tough to beat using 90,000 Virgin Atlantic miles for a round-trip first class trip on an A380. Honestly, is there a better way to fly to Hawaii? I’d almost work in two trips to Japan or Hawaii first just to fly it. Of course, there are plenty of reasons why I’d like an excuse to visit Japan.
Air China Business Class – Beijing To London
When Virgin Atlantic upped the number of miles you need to fly Air China first class between Beijing and London, many were understandably disappointed. That being said, Flying Club is still a very good way to book a business class award ticket on Air China.
While Air China operates three flights per day on this route, try to find award space on its A350 as its business class on this aircraft has a 1-2-1 which will ensure maximum comfort and privacy. If you can only find space on one of the other two flights, the cabin layout will be 2-2-2 but you’ll still have a lie-flat seat.
You can book a one-way business class flight for 67,500 Virgin Atlantic miles. The taxes/fees aren’t the cheapest, but ~$330 from Beijing isn’t so bad — it’s pricier from London thanks to the Air Passenger Duty (APD) fee, of course.
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class – Hong Kong To London
It might surprise you to only see one Virgin Atlantic Upper Class option on this list but this is a good one. Booking a one-way Upper Class award ticket with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles from Hong Kong to London is a great way to avoid those nasty surcharges. Your Virgin Miles get you all the good stuff, but you don’t have to add a bunch of cash to the equation too.
You’ll still get the same friendly service from the Virgin Atlantic crew — and who doesn’t love an inflight bar?
You can even check out the Plaza Premium First Lounge before your flight which includes an a la carte dining option, a great bar and even a selection of pastries. Before the long flight, we’d suggest taking advantage of a 15-minute shoulder massage offered by the lounge. Oh, and there’s Iberico ham if you so desire.
You can book this Upper Class ticket for 57,500 Flying Club miles one-way. This will be even better once Virgin has launched it’s new Upper Class cabin on the Airbus A350 on the route.
Air New Zealand Business Class – Asia To New Zealand
We’ve already talked about how Air New Zealand is a great option for a non-stop between the US and Auckland, but it’s also a great option between Asia and New Zealand. For 40,000 Flying Club miles, you can book a one-way business class ticket.
If you can find business class award space, we think the flight between Tokyo Narita and Auckland is a particularly nice deal. With a listed flight time of roughly 10 hours and 30 minutes, it’s equivalent to flying from Los Angeles to London at a killer price. Continuing the comparison, you’d need 62,500 Flying Club miles on that route — if you can even find a business class award seat!
Delta One – Atlanta To South Africa
As with Delta flights to Europe, you will save yourself a ton of points by booking Delta One on the non-stop flight between Atlanta and Johannesburg by using Virgin Atlantic miles. While a one-way business class flight would cost you over 100,000 Delta SkyMiles, you’ll only need 75,000 Virgin Atlantic miles. For the same flight, why use over 25,000 more miles?
Delta is also now tagging this Johannesburg flight with a stop in Cape Town, which makes it even easier to reach South Africa and get exactly where you want to go, without requiring a separate connection.
The flight is operated by one of Delta’s 777-200 aircraft until the end of 2020, but will then switch to the Airbus A350. These aircraft are currently being retrofitted with Delta One Suites so you’ll soon be able to fly Delta’s new flagship product on one of the longest flights in the world.
More Points: Amex And Citi Transfer Bonuses
As you brilliantly know now, here are lots of options to earn Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles.
However, two options stand out with Virgin Miles because they occasionally offer transfer bonuses of up to 30%. These two options are Amex Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points. If you can time your transfers to occur during one of these promotions, you can get some insane value.
These bonuses mean that you can transfer 93,000 Membership Rewards points to get the required 120,000 miles for first class on ANA, or even fewer miles for business class and flight redemptions on other airlines. Just try to tell me using 93,000 points for a round-trip first class ticket on one of the best airlines in the world isn’t exciting!
Since Chase has entered to transfer bonus world with a 30% bonus on transfers to British Airways Executive Club, we’re hoping to see a similar promo with other partners including Virgin Atlantic.
How To Book: Ins And Outs
Whether you’re trying to book a business class ticket on Delta for as few miles as possible or book a luxury first class ticket to Japan, you don’t want to overlook Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. With a select set of airline partners, Virgin miles can provide some excellent ways to book flights to all parts of the world. It’s up to you to decide where they’ll take you.
When it comes to flights on Virgin Atlantic itself, it’s easy to find availability by searching “paying with miles” on the Virgin website. If you’re trying to book flights on ANA, or Air New Zealand, as odd as it sounds, the best way to search is to search on United.com, and then call Virgin Atlantic to book. We’ve got a brilliant guide with more of the ins and outs too, in case you’re ready to lock something amazing in right now.