Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is an underrated program that offers all kinds of useful redemption opportunities. In particular, the program has some of my favorite niche, sweet spot award deals in the world.
Virgin Atlantic now belongs to SkyTeam, which has greatly expanded the opportunities to redeem miles through the program. On top of that, Flying Club also has some other individual partners with phenomenal redemption values. Best of all, Virgin Atlantic points are easy to come by, which is one of the main reasons people should care about the program.
In this post I wanted to take a closer look at how you can redeem Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points for the best value.
How to earn Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points
One major aspect in assessing the value of a frequent flyer program is how easy points are to earn with the currency. For those of us in the United States with access to transferable points currencies, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points are among the easiest currencies to rack up.
Best of all, we often see transfer bonuses from these currencies to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club in the range of 25-30%, which is a way to stretch points even further. In some cases, it could be worth making a speculative points transfer to take advantage of this, in my opinion.
How to redeem Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points
Let’s now take a look at some of the best ways to redeem Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points. One thing that makes this somewhat complicated is that Flying Club doesn’t have a single award chart that applies across all airlines. Rather the program has different award pricing for different airlines, and in some cases even multiple award charts for the same airline. Specifically:
- Flying Club has a zone-based award chart for travel on Virgin Atlantic, with peak and off-peak pricing
- Flying Club has a zone-based award chart for travel on each individual non-SkyTeam partner airline
- Flying Club has both zone and distance-based award charts for travel on Delta, with peak and off-peak pricing for some awards
- Flying Club has a distance-based award chart for travel on SkyTeam partners (excluding Virgin Atlantic and Delta, which have their own charts, as mentioned above)
With that out of the way, let me share my favorite ways to redeem Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points, in no particular order (for details on booking through Flying Club, read here for award change and cancelation policies, and here for award hold policies).
Redeem for travel on Virgin Atlantic
The most obvious way to redeem Flying Club points is for travel on Virgin Atlantic:
- The good news is that Virgin Atlantic has an award seat guarantee, so when the schedule opens you’ll find at least two business class award seats, two premium economy award seats, and eight economy award seats; Virgin Atlantic also has a handy reward seat finder, where you can easily search availability
- Points requirements for awards on Virgin Atlantic are reasonable, and you’ll find that most transatlantic awards in business class cost 47,500-80,000 points one-way (depending on the distance and peak or off-peak); while there’s not an award chart, you can find a points calculator with award pricing
- The major catch is that Flying Club passes on carrier imposed surcharges when redeeming on Virgin Atlantic, and those can be steep, especially in conjunction with the UK Air Passenger Duty; you can expect that a one-way business class award could cost you nearly $1,000 in cash
This isn’t my favorite use of Virgin Atlantic points, though it’s at least worth being aware of. If you like flying with Virgin Atlantic, if you value the convenience of a nonstop, and if you can take advantage of the award seat guarantee, this is a pretty good opportunity.
Redeem for travel on All Nippon Airways
Now it’s time for what’s one of my favorite sweet spot redemptions in the world, and my all-around favorite use of Virgin Atlantic points. Of course I’m talking about redeeming Flying Club points for travel on All Nippon Airways, the Japanese Star Alliance airline. ANA has exceptional premium products, including in first class and business class.
Below you can find Virgin Atlantic’s award chart for travel on ANA.
As you can see, all award pricing is to and from Japan, so if you plan on connecting beyond Japan, you’ll need to book your ticket as two separate awards. The good news is that since you can book one-ways for half the cost of a roundtrip, you can easily mix-and-match options.
Most exciting is that business class awards between the US mainland or Europe and Japan cost 45,000-47,500 points one-way, while first class awards between the US mainland or Europe and Japan cost 72,500-85,000 points one-way. While there are carrier imposed surcharges for travel on ANA, they are quite mild.
The major catch with this redemption opportunity is that coming by premium cabin award seats on ANA isn’t easy. Is it impossible? Absolutely not. But it takes some effort.
Redeem for travel on Delta Air Lines
Virgin Atlantic and Delta have a joint venture (and for that matter, Delta owns a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic). As a result, the airlines have a special arrangement when it comes to reciprocal award redemptions. Unfortunately this arrangement isn’t at all straightforward, as there are three separate award charts. There’s still great value to be had redeeming Virgin Atlantic points on Delta, though.
Below you can find Virgin Atlantic’s award chart for travel on Delta between the United States and United Kingdom (there are carrier imposed surcharges on all of these awards).
Below you can find Virgin Atlantic’s award chart for travel on Delta between the United States and Europe, with the exception of the United Kingdom (there aren’t carrier imposed surcharges when originating in the United States, but there are surcharges when originating in Europe).
Below you can find Virgin Atlantic’s award chart for travel on Delta in all other regions, which is distance based (most of these awards don’t have carrier imposed surcharges).
The major catch with these redemptions is that Delta isn’t great about making long haul business class award space available at the saver level. So, what should your takeaway be from this opportunity?
- Business class awards from the United States to Europe are an amazing deal at 50,000 points one-way, especially when you can avoid fuel surcharges (by not flying to the UK); the challenge is just finding availability
- There’s also great value to be had for short haul and medium haul awards, as you can book many non-long haul Delta awards for 7,500-15,000 points in economy, which is quite a good deal
I don’t consider there to be much value for travel to and from the UK (due to the surcharges), or for travel in other long haul markets (due to the points requirements).
Redeem for travel on Air New Zealand
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is just full of amazing niche redemptions. Redeeming Virgin Atlantic points on Air New Zealand can be a great value as well, as the airlines have a partnership despite belonging to different alliances.
Below you can find Virgin Atlantic’s award chart for travel on Air New Zealand, which is zone based.
Well, that’s sort of the award chart. Don’t ask me why, but Air New Zealand awards between New Zealand and the United States cost 62,500 points one-way. That’s an amazing deal, especially as there aren’t surcharges.
The value is very good, though the catch is that Air New Zealand is incredibly stingy with making award space available. It’s not impossible, though — for example, I’ve redeemed Virgin Atlantic points for Air New Zealand business class across the Pacific.
Redeem for travel on SkyTeam partners
Virgin Atlantic has one award chart for travel on all SkyTeam partner airlines. The award pricing is distance based, and is calculated from the cumulative distance you fly one-way. Below you can find Virgin Atlantic’s award chart for travel on SkyTeam partners.
Is this the most exciting award pricing in the world? Absolutely not. But the truth is that SkyTeam doesn’t have that many useful programs for partner redemptions (just look at Delta SkyMiles’ absurd award pricing), so this is among the better programs for that (along with Air France-KLM Flying Blue).
I usually focus on premium redemptions (since it’s where you’ll get the most outsized value), so just to give some examples:
- Redeeming 15,500 Flying Club points for a distance of 501-1,000 miles could be useful for short haul travel in Asia, like on China Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Korean Air, etc.
- Redeeming 85,000 Flying Club points for a distance of 5,001-6,000 miles could be valuable for travel across the Atlantic or Pacific on partners; for example, Virgin Atlantic has access to ITA Airways awards, while other SkyTeam partners don’t, and you could also book Korean Air business class for that price from the west coast to South Korea
- Redeeming 100,000 Flying Club points for a distance of 6,001-7,000 miles could be valuable for some transpacific awards on partners; for example, you could fly China Airlines from Vancouver to Taipei
Like I said, those aren’t necessarily amazing award values, but if you factor in the potential for a 25-30% transfer bonus from a transferable points currency, the value really adds up.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is a program that’s worth understanding. Not only are the points easy to come by thanks to transferable points currencies, but if you time your transfers right, you should be able to consistently get a 25-30% transfer bonus.
While I wouldn’t consider Flying Club to be the most broadly useful program, it has some of the world’s best niche redemption opportunities. Particularly, you can’t beat the value of redemptions on All Nippon Airways, Delta, and Air New Zealand, when you can find award availability.
On top of that, redemptions on Virgin Atlantic can be worthwhile if you don’t mind paying the surcharges. Lastly, with Virgin Atlantic now in SkyTeam, there are solid opportunities to redeem on SkyTeam partners, ranging from China Airlines to ITA Airways.
What’s your favorite use of Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points?