Amex’s 30% Virgin Atlantic Transfer Bonus (Last Chance)

Filed Under: American Express, Virgin
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Since the beginning of May, the US American Express Membership Rewards program has been offering a 30% bonus on points transfers to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. This post is a reminder that this promotion expires on Monday, July 1, 2019, so you have just a couple of days remaining to take advantage of the promotion.

Ordinarily points transfer at a 1:1 ratio (in 1,000 point increments), while through this promotion you’d get 1,300 Flying Club miles for every 1,000 Membership Rewards points transferred.

For context, Amex seems to offer a 30% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club once or twice a year, so this promotion is excellent and potentially worthwhile, but not unheard of.

Earn Amex points with these cards

Redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles on Virgin Atlantic

If you want to redeem miles for travel on Virgin Atlantic, here’s what you can expect to pay in terms of roundtrip award costs to/from London:

Roundtrip to/from London andEconomyPremium EconomyUpper Class
US - Northeast: Boston, Newark, New York JFK, Washington DCStandard: 20,000
Peak: 40,000

Fuel Surcharges of $645.10 to $774.12
Standard: 35,000
Peak: 55,000

Fuel Surcharges of $750.00 to $900.00
Standard: 95,000
Peak: 115,000

Fuel Surcharges of $1120 to $1344
US - Midwest: Atlanta and DetroitStandard: 25,000
Peak: 45,000

Fuel Surcharges of $645.10 to $774.12
Standard: 45,000
Peak: 65,000

Fuel Surcharges of $750.00 to $900.00
Standard: 95,000
Peak: 115,000

Fuel Surcharges of $1120 to $1344
US - South: Miami and OrlandoStandard: 25,000
Peak: 45,000

Fuel Surcharges of $645.10 to $774.12
Standard: 45,000
Peak: 65,000

Fuel Surcharges of $750.00 to $900.00
Standard: 95,000
Peak: 115,000

Fuel Surcharges of $1120 to $1344
US - West: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, SeattleStandard: 30,000
Peak: 50,000

Fuel Surcharges of $603.00 to $723.60
Standard: 55,000
Peak: 75,000

Fuel Surcharges of $707.90 to $849.80
Standard: 135,000
Peak: 155,000

Fuel Surcharges of $1153.93 to $1384.68

Virgin Atlantic’s standard and peak pricing includes the following dates:

  • Standard dates include: September 9 through December 12, 2019, January 6 through April 2, 2020, April 22 through June 19, 2020, and September 7 through December 11, 2020
  • Peak dates include: June 22 through September 8, 2019, December 13, 2019, through January 5, 2020, April 3 through April 21, 2020, June 20 through September 6, 2020, and December 12 through December 31, 2020


Virgin Atlantic Upper Class

Generally Virgin Atlantic’s redemption rates are on the high side, at least for Upper Class. On top of that, there are significant carrier imposed surcharges, especially for travel in Upper Class. You can expect that a roundtrip from the US to UK will run you about $1,000, in addition to all the miles.

The sweet spot: redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles on partners

Virgin Atlantic has several airline partners, and there are a few partner redemptions that are especially lucrative.

Probably the best use of Flying Club miles is for travel in ANA first & business class. Here are the redemption rates:

Paying 95,000 and 120,000 miles for business and first class between the US and Japan respectively is a phenomenal value to start with. Then when you consider the 30% transfer bonus, that means you’re just paying 74,000 and 93,000 Amex points, respectively.

While there are carrier imposed surcharges, they’re quite mild. I booked this exact award last year taking advantage of exactly the same transfer bonus, so see this post for everything you need to know about the booking process.


ANA first class

Redemptions on Delta can also be a good deal. Virgin Atlantic no longer publishes the full charts for travel on Delta, but they look something like this:

My favorite redemption values are redeeming 50,000 miles for a one-way ticket in Delta business class to Europe, and if you fly anywhere except the UK, there are no carrier imposed surcharges.

Redeeming 60,000 miles for a one-way Delta business class ticket to Asia without carrier imposed surcharges is an excellent deal as well.

Bottom line

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is very much a niche program. I wouldn’t speculatively transfer points to Virgin Atlantic without an immediate use in mind. However, with a particular use in mind, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club can be a phenomenal program.

With the 30% bonus, some might find it worthwhile to book on Virgin Atlantic for the convenience. Virgin Atlantic is good about releasing business class transatlantic award availability, so if you value the convenience of a nonstop and don’t mind paying the carrier imposed surcharges, there’s value to be had.

However, the real value here is booking with partners.

ANA first class roundtrip to Japan for 93,000 Membership Rewards points? That’s an unbelievable value.

The same is true of many redemptions on Delta, where Flying Club charges less than SkyMiles would. 39,000 Amex points for Delta one-way business class to Europe, or 47,000 Amex points for Delta one-way business class to Asia? What a deal!

Do you plan on transferring points to Virgin Atlantic with this bonus before the promotion ends?

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Comments
  1. Are these ANA redemption rates round trip? If one way, 95K for ANA first doesn’t seem so phenomenal when you can do it on JAL for 80K miles. If round trip however i agree that this is a real sweet spot. In posts like this please clarify if these are one way or round trip redemptions.

  2. I was planning a trip to Japan and saw very little ANA space, despite a wide range of dates (close in, far out, etc.). Any updates on availability there?

  3. Is there a good option to use Flying Club to get US to Dubai without big surcharges?

  4. @Lucky, the carrier surcharges are no longer what I’d define as “mild” – I booked RT J with ANA using the VS transfer method, and taxes/fees came out to $740 for the both of us. $370 pp. Pretty steep compared to AA or Delta partner redemptions.

  5. Sounds like a great incentive but finding space on delta or on Ana is rather elusive in my experience. Unless there are tips and tricks that one should know about

  6. Sounds like a great incentive but finding space on delta or on Ana is rather elusive in my experience. Unless there are tips and tricks that one should know about

  7. Rob is correct – the taxes are much higher now and have been for at least the past six months. Not to mention that you have to book a round-trip flight. A decent redeeming option but not the deal it once was.

  8. @ Craig, ANA award spaces are hard to come by. Even booking through ANA directly is difficult since the number of award seats they release is very limited.

  9. I think $342 in taxes and 93k miles for a $20,000 ticket is a really really good deal…

    I’m looking at award space for February 2020 and there is plenty (at least out of ORD).

  10. VS miles offer relatively good value if you use them to fly one-way from the US to London, since you don’t pay the steep UK departure tax that way. BOS/JFK/EWR/IAD-LHR one way is only 10k+$150 in economy.

  11. While the fuel surcharges are high and annoying, if you consider the money saved, it’s easily justifiable in this case. Consider booking the exact same ANA tickets with United, where you would be out 160k miles compared to 95k — that means you’re paying ~$260 to save 65k miles.

    Or if you were to look at it in terms of what you could get with the same Virgin Atlantic miles, let’s consider booking a round-trip Delta ticket to Japan — 120k miles, so it’s still a 25k mileage savings for ~$260, or about 1 cent per mile difference. That’s a very mild and reasonable offset in my book (and much better than what BA/VS would charge for their own metal (or AA metal in the case of BA) to Europe (where a round trip could easily have $1,000 in fuel surcharges + UK departure surcharges) per person with no mileage savings to speak of.

  12. Lucky, as Craig mentioned above, I have also been looking for space in ANA F class for months and am willing to book out 10-11 months but I see nothing in F class. Any update?

  13. Thanks @Fernando, glad I’m not the only one. I did recently find Delta One space from Japan to Hawaii for 35k Virgin miles + $50, which seems like a great deal. Another potential sweet spot.

  14. Trying to book ATL to ZHR on Delta using Virgin Miles but the Virgin website does not let me select Zurich. Anyone have a solution? Thank you

  15. @Lucky I am trying to book Delta award fares through Virgin Website but it will not allow me to select pay with miles for any non virign operated flight? Any idea how I can make this redemption?

  16. Arghh! I literally booked first class ANA roundtrips for 2 for Jan 2020 just yesterday! Still a great use of MR but could have been 30% better.
    (FYI- found plenty of availability out of LAX and was ticketed in 12 min on the phone, really quite amazing)

  17. I found a SYD-HNL saver business class on Hawaiian, and it also shows on AA. But VA says they don’t have it. Shouldn’t they have it, especially if AA has it?

  18. Took a lot of digging but finally found availability YVR-HND in ANA biz for 11/21 – 12/2/19. Really wanted to fly out of SEA, since I live here, and really wanted to go in October, but I’ll make it work. Round trip for 70K MR points is a steal in my opinion. Books this also the last time they had the promotion. It was much easier to find availability the first time.

  19. Ditto @ Brian. I found award swace ex ORD but virtually nil out of NYC. I used award nexus to search for convenience.

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