If you follow these tips for redeeming Virgin Flying Club Miles, you’ll be feeling brilliant.
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 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 miles sitting there, just waiting to be booked.
The first thing to know?
Virgin Atlantic partners with several very useful airlines including Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways (ANA), South African Airways, Virgin Australia and, yes, even Delta. That means when it’s time to cash in your miles, you can use them on Virgin, or any of these other fun options. 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.
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, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points. Bank of America also issues a co-branded Virgin Atlantic card that earns Flying Club miles directly.
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 Membership Rewards points to your Flying Club account or earn miles directly via a co-branded Virgin Atlantic card issued by Virgin Money.
ANA First Class From The US And Europe
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.
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 To Europe
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.
Air New Zealand Business Class – US To Auckland
New Zealand is a beautiful country that tops many people’s list of dream destinations. The tough part once you get there is finding the motivation to leave. If you’ve been to Queenstown, you understand 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 with only 62,500 Virgin miles. Not too bad for a lie-flat seat with direct aisle access on a long flight from Chicago (ORD), Houston (IAH) or Los Angeles (LAX).
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.
Delta One Suites To Australia
We’ll go ahead and get this out of the way now, business class award space to Australia on either Delta or Virgin Australia out of LAX can be super tough. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll never find it. In fact, I sent out an Award Alerts Newsletter in January after finding space for 4+ people on Delta on multiple dates. You just have to be ready to book.
For your effort, 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.
South African Airways Business Class To Senegal
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. 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.
ANA First Class – Honolulu To Tokyo
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 the surcharges are often just a little too steep. However, booking a one-way Upper Class award ticket with Virgin miles from Hong Kong to London is a great way to avoid those nasty surcharges.
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. I mean, just look at that picture.
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?
The flight is operated by one of Delta’s 777-200s. 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.
Amex and Citi Transfer Bonuses
Fortunately, there are lots of options to earn Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles. However, two options stand out 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.
Obviously, we keep a close eye on these opportunities as it helps us get the absolute most out of our points. In fact, I booked ANA first class from Washington Dulles to Tokyo Narita for 120,000 Flying Club miles. Around the time I needed to transfer points, Amex ran a 30% bonus promotion.
That meant I could transfer 93,000 Membership Rewards points to get the required 120,000 miles. 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.
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.