Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Devalues ANA Awards

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Devalues ANA Awards

32

This was bound to happen, though it’s a shame that no notice was given of this at all (and for that matter the change hasn’t even been announced). On the plus side, I think this devaluation could have been a lot worse.

Virgin Atlantic increases All Nippon Airways award costs

For the past several years, arguably the best airline award ticket sweet spot has been redeeming Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points for travel on All Nippon Airways (ANA). Not only does the Japanese Star Alliance airline have phenomenal new first class and business class products, but the redemption rates through Virgin Atlantic have been the best in the industry.

Well, that’s not the case anymore, at least not to the same extent as before. Virgin Atlantic now has a new award chart for travel on All Nippon Airways, which applies immediately. Here’s the new Virgin Atlantic Flying Club award chart for travel on ANA:

New Virgin Atlantic award chart for ANA

As a point of comparison, here’s the old Virgin Atlantic Flying Club award chart for travel on ANA:

Old Virgin Atlantic award chart for ANA

All these prices are roundtrip, and one-ways can be booked for half the cost of a roundtrip. Interestingly business class and economy class redemptions haven’t changed at all, while first class redemptions have increased by as much as 42%. For example, a one-way first class award from the East Coast of the United States to Japan used to cost 60,000 points, and now costs 85,000 points.

ANA first class awards are now more expensive

This could have been much worse, in my opinion

A devaluation without any sort of advance notice is frustrating. The timing of this roughly coincides with Virgin Atlantic having joined the SkyTeam alliance, and having added redemptions on SkyTeam partners. Many of us wondered if this would have implications for Virgin Atlantic’s other partnerships, so I can’t say I’m that surprised to see these changes.

No devaluation is good news, though dare I say that I’m pleasantly surprised that it isn’t worse?

  • Business class award costs haven’t changed, so those remain a spectacular value; 45,000-47,500 Virgin Atlantic points for a one-way business class award from the United States to Japan is a deal
  • Even the first class redemption rates are still among the best in the industry, so could still be worth it
  • Keep in mind that Flying Club partners with major transferable points currencies, including American Express Membership RewardsCapital OneChase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou; best of all, we often see transfer bonuses, which can stretch your points even further, especially for redemptions like this
At least ANA business class award prices haven’t changed

Bottom line

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has increased award costs for All Nippon Airways first class redemptions without advance notice. Prices are increasing by up to 42%. Unfortunately this change was made without any notice.

That being said, if this is the extent of the planned devaluation to these awards, I’d say that I’m not that upset. ANA business class awards continue to remain a phenomenal value, and given the frequent Virgin Atlantic Flying Club transfer bonuses we see, this is still a great way to book first class.

What do you make of these changes to ANA awards?

Conversations (32)
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  1. MikeBost Guest

    I've been lucky. Found availability in first (ord-nrt) and business (hnd-ord) for January 2024. Virgin phone rep was awesome and incredibly helpful, put the tickets on a 24 hour hold while I set up the other logistics. It was a total of 132,500 points and about $700 in fees/taxes. Still a good value for me on a series of flights I could have never afforded otherwise.

  2. Jason Guest

    The best sweet spot here is to see flexing YouTubers making videos like “I flew $XXXXX ANA first class for $YY” whining about devaluation again!
    P.S, just flew ANA first class last month. Heavily degraded and maintenance sucks. Software in some aspects no better than China Eastern.

  3. Chris levings Guest

    I have 165000 virgin Atlantic airmile points but not even virgin Atlantic will tell me where I can fly with them
    I've even been in person to the VA shop at Next in Northampton and not even face to face with virgin staff can tel me where I can go

    They say I have to choose where I want to go and only then will they tell me what value my points have...

    I have 165000 virgin Atlantic airmile points but not even virgin Atlantic will tell me where I can fly with them
    I've even been in person to the VA shop at Next in Northampton and not even face to face with virgin staff can tel me where I can go

    They say I have to choose where I want to go and only then will they tell me what value my points have and how much cash I will need to pay towards my chosen destination

    I am a pensioner wish to use my 165k points to do something interesting before I'm too old to travel
    No one at virgin appears able to help me

    I wish I'd never allocated all my American express points over many years to virgin
    Shame on you

  4. DCS Diamond

    If the FF program that I patronize is going to devalue, and it has and will do so again, I hope it will be like this Virgin Atlantic "devaluation" of ANA awards...

  5. Miles Ahead Guest

    And yet here you are reading about and learning about deals like these, just like the rest of us. Sorry but do you expect this to not be written about and to never, ever change??
    So what's to "blame"...

  6. Tony Guest

    "Even the first class redemption rates are still among the best in the industry"

    Those other programs (other than ANA's own) don't tag on fuel/carrier surcharge.

  7. dander Guest

    I blame the bloggers and braggers for ruining the sweet spots. You use to cet a night at the Amstel with a free night certificate. Someone had to brag and or blog about this and now its gone. No offense to you Ben but you do tout these outstanding values alot.

    1. Miles Ahead Guest

      And yet here you are reading about and learning about deals like these, just like the rest of us. Sorry but do you expect this to not be written about and to never, ever change??
      So what's to "blame"...

    2. edgar Guest

      Absolutely true!!!!!!!!! These bloggers literally alert the accounts department of the airlines and hotels and it is just a matter of time for them to hike the rates.

  8. Willem Guest

    Does anyone remember when they hiked Air China First Class from 75k to 250k pts roundtrip? This could’ve been way worse lol

  9. Gugs815 Guest

    Had roundtrip ANA first booked using Virgin miles from US-Japan for November 2020… sadly not sure I’ll ever be able to confirm that booking again.

    1. Robert Member

      I was booked for March 2020, but moved it foreword to August 2019.

      I would have never gone without that change.

  10. Another Steve Guest

    Availability really should be a (major) factor in the "value" calculations that are suggested. I am sure I am not the only one who uses miles for premium travel when it is possible, but still ends up with increasing account balances every year. As each year passes I increasingly value the programs that offer high availability for a reasonable redemption. And as each year passes I keep shifting more spending to cash back cards because...

    Availability really should be a (major) factor in the "value" calculations that are suggested. I am sure I am not the only one who uses miles for premium travel when it is possible, but still ends up with increasing account balances every year. As each year passes I increasingly value the programs that offer high availability for a reasonable redemption. And as each year passes I keep shifting more spending to cash back cards because I can see where this game is headed. With a job, family and other interests, $0.02/mile awards that are available 40% of the year are a lot more valuable to me than $0.035/mile awards that are available 1 or 2 days per year.

  11. Bill n DC Diamond

    I agree with many comments about shrilling almost non existent awards. Well everyone is a bit different, my VA miles came from churning BA VA cc just for this redemption And I’d love to find two one way award tickets to use my 120,000 VA miles.

    I flew this ticket once back when it was RT only. I flew to Tokyo in January as part of a westbound RTW and returned in May concluding...

    I agree with many comments about shrilling almost non existent awards. Well everyone is a bit different, my VA miles came from churning BA VA cc just for this redemption And I’d love to find two one way award tickets to use my 120,000 VA miles.

    I flew this ticket once back when it was RT only. I flew to Tokyo in January as part of a westbound RTW and returned in May concluding a eastbound RTW

    I’d like to fly the new First and enjoy the more usable windows I’ll probably do a Rt and use ANA miles from bank transfers

    What should I do with my 120,000 VA Miles?

  12. Omar Guest

    These devaluation articles from bloggers always read the same way 'it's unfortunate but could have been much much worse.' Same thing year after year until there's no value left.

    1. Flyingfromny Guest

      Nailed it. "This is not great but it could have been SO much worse"

      Also, "redemptions are readily available". If you can drop everything in your life, don't need to plan and can snap up the handful of redemptions that come available at a moment's notice.

    2. Pete Guest

      Very true. I often read about how F award seats are released 2-3 days out and wonder if anyone but travel bloggers can make it work at such short notice, because the vast majority of professional people and wage-earners certainly can't.

  13. NK3 Gold

    I think keeping the business class redemptions the same makes sense. Given high fuel surcharges, for many Aeroplan might be a better option. For a recent flight from SEA-NRT, my options were:
    45k Virgin miles + $400 fees
    55k Aeroplan miles + $94 fees
    Which one is better may depend on transfer bonuses, mileage balances, etc. And as a huge bonus, Aeroplan can be booked online!

  14. Mak Guest

    Putting to one side that I have never found availability on this route (using Virgin miles, I have of course using ANA miles) and that this award is legendary mostly because it’s mostly legend, the insane and predatory carrier imposed surcharges charged by Virgin made the old deal of middling value. Now it’s a straight up poor value. There are no free tickets redeemable in premium classes on Virgin - the “awards” only give you...

    Putting to one side that I have never found availability on this route (using Virgin miles, I have of course using ANA miles) and that this award is legendary mostly because it’s mostly legend, the insane and predatory carrier imposed surcharges charged by Virgin made the old deal of middling value. Now it’s a straight up poor value. There are no free tickets redeemable in premium classes on Virgin - the “awards” only give you the questionable privilege of an upgrade with your expensive paid fare. You would be better off paying the extra miles to redeem this award on almost any Star Alliance carrier - especially United and Avianca which have reasonable surcharges and Air Canada which has merely high surcharges. Virgins program belongs in the junkyard in the land of misfit toys.

  15. Mark Blacklock Guest

    Ben, but is there any business class award availability? Searching for ANA on United.com there's never anything. Is there a better way to search? Thanks Mark

    1. NK3 Gold

      Using seats.aero, I found 17 ANA flights in the next month with available seats from the US to either NRT or HND. In my experience, they may open up space 2-3 weeks prior to departure, if there is excess capacity.

    2. Pete Guest

      Again, most professional people and wage-earners can't just drop everything to travel in 2-3 weeks.

  16. Andre Wiggins Guest

    Whew! Redeemed just in time! Flying FC ANA from ORD-to-HND later this month to celebrate Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) in Japan. Now that the redemptions are higher, I’m going to seriously do it up hard on the flight, the lounges and Japan knowing I just made it under the “deadline”’

    1. AD Guest

      3/15? LOL I've been watching redemptions on my flight and suddenly a new person booked 1K.

    2. ORD Flyer Guest

      It's a pity you are flying from ORD, as those flights are no longer served by the 777s with "new" FC and biz.

    3. Dominic Kivni Guest

      This was bound to happen after the glut of F awards (plenty of dates had 5 or 6 award seats available) on various routes like SFO, JFK and HNL. Given the huge amount of awards that VS processed (no shortage of stories of people on hold with agents for hours), ANA probably demanded more reimbursement after seeing so many F seats sell for the equivalent of ultra deep discount fares, and VS realized how deep...

      This was bound to happen after the glut of F awards (plenty of dates had 5 or 6 award seats available) on various routes like SFO, JFK and HNL. Given the huge amount of awards that VS processed (no shortage of stories of people on hold with agents for hours), ANA probably demanded more reimbursement after seeing so many F seats sell for the equivalent of ultra deep discount fares, and VS realized how deep in the hole they would be if they kept offering redemptions at the old rate. There were probably more F award seats booked in the last month on ANA through VS than probably a typical year pre-COVID, so it could no longer fly under the radar. Given how high demand is for travel to Japan and various other online communication methods, this would have probably happened regardless, but it certainly was accelerated by all the bloggers promoting it

  17. Jan Guest

    No major loss for 99.9996% of customers, as they can’t readily find availability anyway, despite the constant shilling of the travel media.

  18. David Diamond

    I don't think the Virgin redemptions for ANA F is best in the industry for a couple reasons:
    First the significant YQ makes Aeroplan a better redemption than Virgin once you include that in the cost calculations.
    And then there's the issue with availability. While most programs draw from the same pool of award spaces, the fact that Aeroplan can be booked a couple weeks further out than Virgin makes it easier to...

    I don't think the Virgin redemptions for ANA F is best in the industry for a couple reasons:
    First the significant YQ makes Aeroplan a better redemption than Virgin once you include that in the cost calculations.
    And then there's the issue with availability. While most programs draw from the same pool of award spaces, the fact that Aeroplan can be booked a couple weeks further out than Virgin makes it easier to nab seats (~1 year out) using Aeroplan compared to Virgin.

  19. Clem Diamond

    It was a matter of time indeed. So now the best way to book ANA first is likely through ANA directly, since round trips are 150,000 ANA points and there is better availability than through partners (although "better" is very relative since availability is still absolutely abysmal).

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Clem -- ANA would be the best value at a 1:1 transfer ratio (not accounting for some of the program's frustrating rules and restrictions). However, since we see 30% transfer bonuses to Virgin Atlantic multiple times per year, I'd say that often remains the best value.

    2. Clem Diamond

      @ Ben - that's a really good point! I guess it also depends on how much you value sanity when Virgin's calendar opens and the hunger games begin :). At least with ANA you have a few extra weeks since they open their calendar before, but it assumes you're able to plan a year ahead of course. Agreed with the frustrating rules though (on top of points expiring, penalties when you want to make a...

      @ Ben - that's a really good point! I guess it also depends on how much you value sanity when Virgin's calendar opens and the hunger games begin :). At least with ANA you have a few extra weeks since they open their calendar before, but it assumes you're able to plan a year ahead of course. Agreed with the frustrating rules though (on top of points expiring, penalties when you want to make a change, non immediate transfer from Amex etc).
      At the end of the day, it was already hard to book before the pandemic but now it's become near impossible sadly. I'm hoping JAL doesn't reduce their much better availability too much when they introduce the new seats...

    3. Joe Jones Guest

      I think United and Avianca are the best programs for booking NH nowadays, since they don't charge YQ and don't require you to book round trip (often impossible since F availability is so limited).

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

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Jan Guest

No major loss for 99.9996% of customers, as they can’t readily find availability anyway, despite the constant shilling of the travel media.

5
David Diamond

I don't think the Virgin redemptions for ANA F is best in the industry for a couple reasons: First the significant YQ makes Aeroplan a better redemption than Virgin once you include that in the cost calculations. And then there's the issue with availability. While most programs draw from the same pool of award spaces, the fact that Aeroplan can be booked a couple weeks further out than Virgin makes it easier to nab seats (~1 year out) using Aeroplan compared to Virgin.

3
NK3 Gold

I think keeping the business class redemptions the same makes sense. Given high fuel surcharges, for many Aeroplan might be a better option. For a recent flight from SEA-NRT, my options were: 45k Virgin miles + $400 fees 55k Aeroplan miles + $94 fees Which one is better may depend on transfer bonuses, mileage balances, etc. And as a huge bonus, Aeroplan can be booked online!

2
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