This post is part of a series about how to maximize value when transferring your Citi ThankYou Points to airline partners.
- Sweetspots with Singapore KrisFlyer Miles #1: Suites Class for as Little as 32,000 Miles
- Sweetspots with Singapore KrisFlyer Miles #2: Awards on United and Partner Flights
- Sweetspots with Virgin Atlantic Miles #1: 10,000 Points USA to Europe
- Sweetspots with Virgin Atlantic Miles #2: Sweetspots on 12 Partner Award Charts (this post)
- Sweetspots with Flying Blue Miles: 30,000 Miles Roundtrip to Hawaii
- Sweetspots with Virgin America Points: 35,000 Points Roundtrip to Europe in Flat Bed
- Sweetspots with Etihad Miles: 20,000 Miles One Way to Europe
Virgin Atlantic has many award charts when redeeming its Flying Club miles. There is one award chart to fly Virgin Atlantic and separate award charts for each of its partners (scoll to page 2). This is a post about sweetspots with Virgin Atlantic miles when redeeming awards on partner airlines.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles are easy to accrue. Virgin Atlantic is a 1:1 transfer partner of ThankYou Points, Ultimate Rewards, and Membership Rewards plus Virgin Atlantic issues an American credit card with a “90,000 mile” sign up bonus. Using your Virgin Atlantic miles to book with one of these partners can yield high value awards:
One Way Pricing
According to the Flying Club’s terms and conditions page of Virginatlantic.com: “Partner Rewards flights, except for Virgin Australia, are only valid for round trip travel between the destinations specified by the Reward provider using the routes stipulated by the relevant Reward provider. Members can redeem one-way Reward flights with partner airlines, however the full redemption levels as listed on our website will apply, unless specified on the Participating Company page.”
In other words, one way partner awards can be booked but not for half the price of a roundtrip. It will cost the same as it does to take the roundtrip.
Stopovers and Open Jaws
The information is incomplete on the Virgin Atlantic website, and I didn’t test them out. I believe stopovers and open jaws are possible when redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles on some partners (like Air New Zealand) and not possible on others. Share your experiences in the comments.
Two other rules you’ll want to pay attention to when booking awards with their partners:
- Partner airline bookings are not accepted within 72 hours of departure
- You cannot mix and match partner airlines on a single itinerary.
While some rules are inhibiting, there are some highly valuable sweetspots on their partner award charts. Each partner airline has it’s own award chart, which can be accessed from the links on the second page of this Flying Club Spending details PDF. Best of all, many of the partners don’t collect fuel surcharges on their flights, so Virgin Atlantic doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on award tickets on those airlines! This is a refreshing difference from redeeming awards with Virgin Atlantic miles on the airline’s own planes, which I covered in part 1 of this Virgin Atlantic post.
Sweetspots on Partner Redemption Charts
- Atlanta to Buenos Aires roundtrip in Economy Class on Delta: 45,000 miles + $99
- Los Angeles to Auckland roundtrip in Business Class on Air New Zealand: 125,000 miles + $69
- London to New York roundtrip in Economy Class on Delta: 40,000 miles + $186
Atlanta to Buenos Aires in roundtrip Economy Class on Delta: 45,000 miles + $99.06 in taxes
60,000 miles is United, American, and Delta charge to travel in Economy roundtrip between the US and Southern South America. (The current off peak season rate for an American Airlines flight is 40,000 miles roundtrip in Economy, however the devaluaation of American Airlines’ miles on March 22 will end that deal.) That makes this a pretty sweet deal.
Los Angeles to Auckland in roundtrip Business Class on Air New Zealand: 125,000 miles + $69.16 in taxes
United charges 160,000 miles roundtrip for the same award space. It currently costs 125,000 American Airlines miles to fly roundtrip between the US and New Zealand in Business Class, but that price will jump up to 160,000 on March 22. The lack of fuel surcharges on the redemption is great news as well considering Air New Zealand flights have high fuel surcharges.
Air New Zealand was notorious for never releasing any Business Class award space between the US and New Zealand, but that has changed, but now they are releasing the space within 90 days of departure.
London to New York in roundtrip Economy on Delta: 40,000 miles + $185.96 in taxes
The key here is that the flight originates in London. You can fly the same round trip route originating in New York but it will cost 60,000 miles instead of 40,000, which debunks the sweetspot status. Flights originating in London flying to all of the following cities are also 40,000 miles in Economy: Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Salt Lake City (the Salt Lake City route doesn’t start until May 2016).
- London to Beijing in roundtrip First Class on Air China: 75,000 miles + estimated $285 in taxes + estimated $400 in fuel surcharges
- San Francisco to Hong Kong roundtrip in Business Class on Singapore Airlines: 110,000 miles + estimated $77.56 in fuel surcharges
What do I mean by theoretical? I do not have tangible proof that you can book these awards at the moment. But they are theoretically bookable.
London to Beijing in roundtrip First Class on Air China: 75,000 miles + an estimated $285 in taxes + an estimated $400 in fuel surcharges
Nearly $700 is a lot of out of pocket expense to pay for an award. But 75,000 miles for First Class is incredibly cheap. When I called in and spoke to a Flying Club representative, however, he told me that his computer was giving him an error message that until further notice, Virgin Atlantic miles cannot be used to redeem awards on Air China. This FlyerTalk thread showed evidence to the contrary, that perhaps the problem between the two airlines had been solved. But I spoke to multiple different Flying Club representatives and they all delivered the same message that it was not possible, until further notice. If anyone has had a successful experience booking an Air China award with their Virgin Atlantic miles, please let us know in the comments. That “until further notice” the agents kept tacking on gives me hope.
San Francisco to Hong Kong roundtrip in Business Class on Singapore Airlines: 110,000 miles + an estimated $78 in taxes
There are also amazing prices listed for Singapore Airlines First (Suites) Class. Unfortunately Singapore doesn’t release longhaul Business or First Class award space to Virgin Atlantic, so you can’t book these sweet spots.
ThankYou Points and Membership Rewards have both offered transfer bonuses of 25% to 35% to Virgin Atlantic miles, so there is a potential for more of these types of promotions in the future. If you had transferred 100,000 ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles during last summer’s 25% transfer bonus, your resulting 125,000 Virgin Atlantic miles would be enough to book that roundtrip Business class trip between Los Angeles and Auckland!
Other Useful Tips I Learned From a Prior Call with Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club:
- Delta awards have no fuel surcharges, just the same government taxes as booking with Delta miles
- There are no fuel surcharges on Hawaiian Airlines award flights.
- The Hawaiian award chart says a First Class roundtrip is “from 80,000 miles.” That price only refers to roundtrips from the western US. The actual roundtrip price between New York and Hawaii is 130,000 miles in First Class.
- There are no fuel surcharges on Virgin America award flights.
Where to Search Award Space for Each Virgin Atlantic Partner
- Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA and South African Airways award space can all be searched on united.com
- Delta and Virgin Australia award space can both be searched on delta.com
- Hawaiian Airlines can be searched on aa.com
- Malaysia Airlines award space can be searched on ba.com
- Singapore Airlines award space can be searched on singaporeair.com
- Gulf Air, Jet Airlines, can all be searched on expertflyer.com. Read more about how to navigate ExpertFlyer’s search tool
In regards to Virgin America, not all of their flights have award space that Virgin Atlantic has access to. There’s no way to check without calling Virgin Atlantic that I know of. Before calling, I didn’t know what to expect with respect to Virgin America space since Virgin America’s program is revenue-based and doesn’t include a concept of “award space.”
Transferring ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic Miles
How to Book Awards with Virgin Atlantic’s Partners
Once your miles post, call the Flying Club at 1 (800) 365-9500. This is the US’s office’s contact number, but if it’s after hours you will be automatically transferred to the UK office which is open 24/7.
Pay your award taxes and fuel surcharges with the Citi Prestige® Card. The first $250 in award taxes, fuel surcharges, airfare, or airline fees per calendar year are refunded to you as a statement credit. If you’ve already maxed out the statement credit, you will still earn 3x ThankYou Points on the award taxes and fuel surcharges.
Getting Citi ThankYou Points to transfer to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
The best card to rack up Virgin Atlantic miles is the:
- Citi Prestige® Card: 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. The card also comes earns 3x points on airfare and hotels and has a host of benefits like lounge access and $250 in free airfare per year.
Virgin Atlantic miles are easy to collect and can be valuable for booking awards with their 12 partners. There are some great deals on Delta’s, Air New Zealand’s, Air China’s, and Singapore Airlines’ charts, and transfer bonuses make those deals even sweeter. You can get away without paying fuel surcharges on many partner airlines, and ones that do charge them have very low mileage price tags that make up for it.