Unicorn: I Redeemed Virgin Atlantic Points On Air New Zealand

Unicorn: I Redeemed Virgin Atlantic Points On Air New Zealand

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Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is such a quirky frequent flyer program. The program has some amazing sweet spot award redemptions, including for travel on All Nippon Airways and Delta Air Lines. I just redeemed Virgin Atlantic points on another airline for the first time, and wanted to share my experience.

Virgin Atlantic redemption rates on Air New Zealand

Virgin Atlantic and Air New Zealand have a partnership, and as part of that it’s possible to redeem Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points for travel on Air New Zealand. You can find the award chart below, with prices listed being for a roundtrip (one-ways are available for half the cost of a roundtrip).

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club award chart on Air New Zealand

Just to summarize the key one-way business class redemption rates:

  • New Zealand to Australia costs 15,000 points
  • New Zealand to Asia costs 40,000 points
  • New Zealand to Hawaii costs 45,000 points
  • New Zealand to mainland North America costs 62,500 points

I know it’s odd that New Zealand to mainland North America costs 62,500 points, because that’s not listed on the award chart. Rather it lists South Pacific to Los Angeles, but that refers to Air New Zealand’s (suspended) Rarotonga to Los Angeles flight. But I can assure you that’s the pricing, and that will be quoted by any Flying Club agent.

There are no fuel surcharges when redeeming Virgin Atlantic points on Air New Zealand, so you’ll pay just minimal taxes & fees when redeeming.

My amazing Air New Zealand award redemption

If you’ve ever looked at Air New Zealand award space, you probably know the catch — award availability on Air New Zealand is extremely hard to come by. Finding Air New Zealand transpacific business class award space is nearly impossible, and there are many periods where you won’t find a single transpacific business class award space on Air New Zealand for the entire schedule.

Well, while perusing award space a couple of days ago, I noticed an Air New Zealand business class award seat from Auckland to Los Angeles (while searching on Aeroplan’s website)… so I booked it!

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points are super easy to earn, given that the program is transfer partners with all major transferable points currencies, including Amex Membership RewardsCapital OneChase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou.

Best of all, at the moment there’s a 30% transfer bonus from Amex to Virgin Atlantic. So I transfered 49,000 Amex points to Virgin Atlantic, which got me 63,700 Flying Club points. I phoned up Virgin Atlantic, and 10 minutes later I had the business class award seat booked, with just ~$41 in taxes & fees.

Stay tuned for the details of my upcoming review trip, as it’s one I’m really looking forward to.

Bottom line

Redeeming Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points on Air New Zealand is a spectacular value… assuming you can find award availability. Award space can be really tough to come by, but when it’s available, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is the way to book, especially when there’s a transfer bonus.

It’s pretty funny to me how Flying Club has three of the world’s best award sweet spot redemptions, yet in each case award availability can be really tough to come by.

Has anyone else ever redeemed Virgin Atlantic points on Air New Zealand?

Conversations (32)
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  1. Mary Guest

    Good on you (as the Aussies would say). I had been trying (and trying) to find business class availability from Auckland to LAX in April 2023 - and nothing. (well, ok - yes but at 200k+ on United.) But one morning I went to Alaska's chart and low and behold I found a flight through Nadi on Fiji Air for 55k. Booked it. Checked half an hour later - nothing available. It is really a game of luck sometimes.

  2. DaveW Guest

    I recently flew Perth - Auckland - Queenstown and back. I thought the Air NZ business package was awesome. All 3 lounges were great and the 787 biz class seat and service was spectacular. Loved it.

  3. Chad Guest

    There's a whole herd of close-in unicorns available right now

  4. MurrayF Member

    As a kiwi living in Auckland I have given up on star alliance due to unavailability of Air NZ awards and Singapore/United now too expensive. I use AA/Alaska and have no problems getting flights usually (going to Asia/Europe). I often used to see Air NZ awards on the AKL-TPE flight.
    Air NZ actually has a really comfortable sleeping platform and no horrible box to encase your feet. The food is great and if you...

    As a kiwi living in Auckland I have given up on star alliance due to unavailability of Air NZ awards and Singapore/United now too expensive. I use AA/Alaska and have no problems getting flights usually (going to Asia/Europe). I often used to see Air NZ awards on the AKL-TPE flight.
    Air NZ actually has a really comfortable sleeping platform and no horrible box to encase your feet. The food is great and if you ignore the stupid seat layout and the insanely poor TV screen it’s a nice flight with plenty of room. Personally I think the newer Singapore seats are worse with tiny foot wells, then again I prefer the older turkish airlines layout without the restrictive foot box.
    You could check out the Air NZ site in New Zealand (not the .com American one) as you might find a cheap flight to Queenstown where there is at least one Hyatt SLH.

  5. VT-CIE Gold

    Yay! An Air New Zealand review after so many years!!! It’s been ages since you flew them, and I’m excited to see how they’ve kept up so far before they introduce their new cabins in 2025.

  6. Mick Guest

    In January 2020 I found space from Auckland to Chicago on air nz. It was available on United mileage plus and aeroplan but virgin didn’t allow me to book it as that route was specifically excluded. I think it was in the terms and conditions. Would be interesting if anyone had any color on this and whether any other programs have similar exclusions.

    I was hoping to use virgin points as I have 10k...

    In January 2020 I found space from Auckland to Chicago on air nz. It was available on United mileage plus and aeroplan but virgin didn’t allow me to book it as that route was specifically excluded. I think it was in the terms and conditions. Would be interesting if anyone had any color on this and whether any other programs have similar exclusions.

    I was hoping to use virgin points as I have 10k points orphaned there after they stuffed up my Ana first booking in 2018. They put it on hold for me and then lost it the next day?!

    1. Mick Guest

      To clarify it was the direct flight to chicago from Auckland.

  7. Rico Gold

    Great score on the award seat! Much better than mine. I've been booking and rebooking for months to get 2 business seats SEA-AKL-SEA in Spring '23.

    The best I have so far is premium economy SEA-PPT(12hrs)-AKL on Air Tahiti Nui for 65K AA miles. The return is AKL-NAN(2 days)-SFO-SEA (J for NAN-SFO only) on Fiji Airways for 55K Alaska miles.

    1. Sam Guest

      Same. There's nothing LAX/SFO/YVR in Biz to AKL. Been looking for the past month or so. Plenty of DL miles for the locator from SEA if there's no connecting availability.

  8. Jetiquette Guest

    How much would the award have been through NZ?

  9. Alvin | YTHK Gold

    Looking forward to the hard-earned, long-anticipated sentence that you'll be writing: "Air New Zealand offers a subpar business class hard product"

    1. AA70 Gold

      Who cares? These are fun to read and at least we're getting a review trip

  10. jcil Guest

    Is anybody at all surprised that Ben was able to get another "unicorn" award that just manages to fit his schedule perfectly. I'm shocked that there is gambling in this establishment.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ jcil -- Why don't you just spell out what your theory is, please? And for the record, nothing fit my schedule "perfectly." Rather I was just looking for award space (as I often do for fun), I saw this, I booked it, and then I planned a review trip around it.

    2. _ar Guest

      I think it would be helpful to your readers if you mentioned the day of the week for your award flights in general. It's much easier getting a flight on a Tue or Wed for example. That would resolve "schedule" conspiracies :-)

    3. Nomad_dc Guest

      #transparency #screenshots

    4. TimR Guest

      I mean this is Ben's full-time job. Any availability, unicorn or otherwise fits his schedule.

    5. Mick Guest

      Lol exactly. Everyone moans that you can never find seats etc. they exist if you know how to search. I’ve flown this route on points a week after Christmas. I booked it a week out. Have to have flexibility.

      Of course almost nothing exists atm lol. But I’ve flown bus and first class on Qantas for 2-3 passengers multiple times using American and alaskan miles. Including in March this year. Qantas had 9 seats...

      Lol exactly. Everyone moans that you can never find seats etc. they exist if you know how to search. I’ve flown this route on points a week after Christmas. I booked it a week out. Have to have flexibility.

      Of course almost nothing exists atm lol. But I’ve flown bus and first class on Qantas for 2-3 passengers multiple times using American and alaskan miles. Including in March this year. Qantas had 9 seats on expert flyer on its new route from New York to Auckland for later this year. Unfort they got gobbled up before american had them listed

  11. Bob Guest

    Agree that the NZ biz seats suck. I would rather pick an airline with better biz seats.

  12. Alex Z Guest

    @ Ben

    If it's half the cost of the listed roundtrip price and South Pacific to LA is listed as 90,000 wouldn't it be 45,000 and not 62,500?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Alex Z -- As I explained in the post, that South Pacific to Los Angeles pricing is based on the (suspended) Rarotonga to Los Angeles route, and not Auckland to Los Angeles, sadly. The award chart is incomplete.

  13. Tom Guest

    Great redemption rate too but the NZ business class seats are terrible. I understand that the space is hard to come by but I see that as a non issue as I (and probably many others) much rather fly Polaris from the west coast to Auckland.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Tom -- Totally true about the seat, though as longtime OMAAT readers know, I don't discriminate when it comes to the quality of premium products I review. ;)

  14. Sam Guest

    Who will watch Miles while you are on the trip?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Sam -- Ford and family will be looking after him. I won't be gone for long.

  15. Khatl Diamond

    Are you taking your newborn? A couple of weeks back, you were concerned about long distance travel, so I'm curious!

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Khatl -- Nope, he's staying home, and we're going to start off slower with him when it comes to travel. I'll be taking some very quick review trips for blog content, and won't be dragging anyone along for that.

  16. geoff Guest

    Error fare cancellation email in 3...2...1...:)
    Good find.

  17. Zac Guest

    Is this going to be the trip how you celebrate lifetime globalist? Excited to follow along!

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Zac -- Hah, as you may have guessed, there is a Hyatt involved here, but it won't be the stay that gets me lifetime Globalist (at least not just yet).

    2. Seattle Todd Guest

      We're staying at the Park Hyatt Auckland over New Year's, and since I'm sure that's the Hyatt you'll be reviewing, I can't wait to read your review. :-)

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ jcil -- Why don't you just spell out what your theory is, please? And for the record, nothing fit my schedule "perfectly." Rather I was just looking for award space (as I often do for fun), I saw this, I booked it, and then I planned a review trip around it.

6
Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Tom -- Totally true about the seat, though as longtime OMAAT readers know, I don't discriminate when it comes to the quality of premium products I review. ;)

3
Mick Guest

Lol exactly. Everyone moans that you can never find seats etc. they exist if you know how to search. I’ve flown this route on points a week after Christmas. I booked it a week out. Have to have flexibility. Of course almost nothing exists atm lol. But I’ve flown bus and first class on Qantas for 2-3 passengers multiple times using American and alaskan miles. Including in March this year. Qantas had 9 seats on expert flyer on its new route from New York to Auckland for later this year. Unfort they got gobbled up before american had them listed

2
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