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Virgin America no longer collects fuel surcharges on redemptions that fly Virgin Australia.
That means you can fly Virgin Australia’s flat bed Business Class from Los Angeles to Sydney or Brisbane for only 80,000 Virgin America points + $130 in taxes roundtrip. Delta charges 80,000 miles one way for the same flights!
Virgin Australia award space is widely available for up to 12 people on a single flight, including over peak times like Christmas and New Year’s.
But there are two catches:
- Virgin America points are expensive to acquire with cash or point transfers.
- This price is good from Los Angeles to Sydney or Brisbane, not from other American cities or to other Australian cities.
Getting Virgin America Points
There are Virgin America credit cards that earn one Virgin America Elevate Point per dollar, but the sign up bonus is only 10,000 to 15,000 points.
You can buy Virgin America points for 5.2 cents each normally. Until April 4, 2015, you can buy Virgin America points with an 80% bonus on points purchased. That brings the price of points to 2.9 cents each. You can only purchase 20,000 points per year–36,000 with the 80% bonus–for $1,040.
You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards at a rate of 2 Membership Rewards to 1 Virgin America point. There are occasional 30%, 35%, and 40% bonuses on the transfer rate. The most recent was a 35% transfer bonus that ended February 15, 2015. At that rate, you could have transferred 118,600 Membership Rewards to the 80,000 Virgin America points needed for a roundtrip Business Class flight to Australia.
Of the three methods, I think the best way to get Virgin America points is to wait for the Membership Rewards transfer bonuses.
The Award Price
Virgin America has different award charts for each partner. Here is the interactive chart for Virgin Australia flights booked with Virgin America points.
You select a departure and arrival city to get the prices. Los Angeles to Sydney is 40k/60k/80k Virgin America points roundtrip in economy/Premium Economy/Business Class.
You can also book domestic flights on Virgin Australia. Melbourne to Adelaide is 3,500 points one way.
And flights to Virgin Australia’s destinations in the Pacific. Melbourne to Fiji is 25,000 points roundtrip.
Using Virgin America points to book Virgin Australia points just got several hundred dollars cheaper with the elimination of fuel surcharges. The price remains 80,000 points roundtrip in Business Class from Los Angeles to Sydney or Brisbane.
If you live in a different city in the United States, you’ll need to book your ticket to Los Angeles separately. If you want to go to a different city in Australia, that will also require a separate ticket.
Virgin America points are tough to rack up, since the Virgin America credit card sign up bonus is only 15,000 points, the points cost 5.2 cents each to buy, and 2 Membership Rewards transfer to 1 Virgin America point.
But if you wait for a 30-40% Membership Rewards transfer bonus, you’re looking at around 120,000 Membership Rewards and $130 in taxes for a roundtrip award to Australia on a flat bed.