I’ve been posting about award space to Europe for this summer because that’s what my Award Booking Service clients want. In that vein, Just Another Points Traveler just posted about a great deal that I have to pass on:
From New York to London–this summer–from 13,000 Membership Rewards or Ultimate Rewards plus $98. See how to take advantage of this amazing deal and how that stacks up against my best deals to Europe after the jump.
Virgin Atlantic flies to the UK from nine US cities and offers the unbeatable economy prices for award tickets.
Until June 17, Virgin Atlantic is discounting the miles price of economy awards between North America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, India, Africa, and Asia and the UK by 25%.
Book now to lock in the rate, and fly your award any time in the next 11 months since Virgin Atlantic’s award booking calendar is currently open through May 11, 2014.
Here’s what Virgin Atlantic normally charges from US cities to the UK:
Ignore the chart though. It doesn’t cost 47,500 miles roundtrip from NYC; it costs 17,500 miles each way with the current 25% discount.
Fuel surcharges aren’t so bad either.
Virgin Atlantic flies to Heathrow from eight American cities. These are the miles needed and taxes plus fuel surcharges from each city to London one way in economy based on searches I performed today:
Virgin Atlantic flies from two American cities in economy to London Gatwick and Manchester. These are the miles and dollars needed for those flights one way.
From Orlando, Virgin Atlantic also flies to Glasgow, Scotland. The mileage price is steeper than the flights to London.
Booking These Awards
I recommend booking these awards one way because departures from London incur the huge UK Air Passenger Duty. But if you book these awards one way to London and return with a different award, you can have a very cheap award to Europe this summer (or this winter or next spring. Awards are bookable 11 months out, and space is wide open.)
To book, sign up for a Virgin Atlantic account here. Then sign into your account and click Spend Miles.
Is This The Best Deal to Europe?
For most of the country, yes, but not from Boston.
I’ve written before about how to fly to Europe from anywhere in America for 20k American Airlines miles all year round.
The best deal from Boston is to fly Aer Lingus to Ireland for 12,500 Avios and no fuel surcharges.
But for most people, there is no way to beat 13k to 17.5k miles to London. And once you’re in London, connecting to the rest of Europe on a low-cost carrier is easy.
Luxury lovers will want to know about the prices in Upper Class to Europe on Virgin Atlantic, since Upper Class is a business class product on par with many airlines’ first classes.
Unfortunately the current 25% discount does not apply to Upper Class, so the fuel surcharges and miles required to fly Upper Class are about triple economy. At those prices, I don’t think Upper Class is a great deal. For instance, Los Angeles to London one way is 50k miles + $455 in Upper Class.
Getting the Miles
I’ll admit that when Ultimate Rewards–Chase’s loyalty points–added Virgin Atlantic as a partner this year, I thought it was a non-event. We all know Virgin Atlantic charges massive fuel surcharges on its awards, and the best way to get on Virgin Atlantic is (or was) using Hawaiian Miles anyway.
But now that partnership is looking mighty valuable. I have 3,500 or so Virgin Atlantic miles left from getting the Virgin Atlantic card from Bank of America last year, but I don’t recommend following in my footsteps. The Bank of America Virgin Atlantic card comes with 45,000 miles after spending $2,500 in three months.
The problem is the card has a $90 annual fee (not waived), and you probably don’t want 45,000 Virgin Atlantic miles. Remember that this deal is awesome one way to London. Returning has way higher fuel surcharges and taxes.
You just want 13k to 17.5k Virgin Atlantic miles to fly one way in economy to Europe. The way to get those easily is a transfer from Ultimate Rewards.
Transferable Ultimate Rewards are earned on the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, and Ink Plus
Membership Rewards also transfer 1:1 to Virgin Atlantic. Thanks for the reminder Ketan S and Adam!
The best cards to earn Membership Rewards are:
- The Mercedes Benz Platinum Card from American Express with 50,000 Membership Rewards after spending $3k in three months. This card has a $475 annual fee. You can recoup that value by following this step-by-step guide to activating the card’s benefits.
- The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN with 50,000 Membership Rewards after spending $5k in three months.
Europe is within reach for as little as 13k miles one way if you book in the next week for trips for the next 11 months. Where will you go this summer?