For a long time, Singapore Airlines owned a 49% stake of Virgin Atlantic. While Virgin Atlantic never has been part of one of the “big three” alliances, they did have a pretty close partnership with Singapore Airlines for a long time.
Ultimately Singapore Airlines sold their 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic to Delta, which in part explains the joint venture between Delta and Virgin Atlantic.
But there are still some signs of the partnership between Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.
For example, you can still earn and redeem Singapore KrisFlyer miles for travel on Virgin Atlantic, and vice versa.
In many cases they even still have lounge sharing agreements. For example, at New York JFK, Singapore Airlines Suites Class passengers have access to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.
Anyway, last night I posted about Virgin Atlantic’s new flights to the US, and how much additional Upper Class award space this is resulting in.
Reader stvr left the following comment:
Can you price it out with Ultimate Rewards to give us an idea? Short on MR, high on UR…
I’ve written a lot about the best uses of Ultimate Rewards points, which are among the easiest points currencies to accrue thanks to the excellent cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points and offer bonus points.
But what’s the best way to redeem them for travel on Virgin Atlantic? Chase Ultimate Rewards almost has a dozen transfer partners now, and those include Virgin Atlantic’s own Flying Club program.
For reference, here’s the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club award chart for travel on their own flights:
That being said, anyone familiar with flexible points currencies knows that in many cases there are “arbitrage” opportunities, whereby you can get better value by redeeming miles through a partner airline instead of directly through the airline’s native program.
This reminded me of Virgin Atlantic’s partnership with Singapore Airlines. Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer is also an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, and can be a great program for redeeming miles for travel on Singapore Airlines, or for redeeming miles for travel on Star Alliance partners.
But how about for travel on Virgin Atlantic? Here’s the Singapore KrisFlyer chart for travel on Virgin Atlantic:
As you can see, for the most KrisFlyer isn’t an especially lucrative program for redeeming on Virgin Atlantic:
- Singapore KrisFlyer miles can only be redeemed for roundtrip travel on Virgin Atlantic, while Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles can be redeemed for one-way travel on their own flights
- Singapore KrisFlyer imposes fuel surcharges for travel on Virgin Atlantic
- There aren’t many regions where KrisFlyer has lower redemption rates than Flying Club would have directly
So are there any cases where KrisFlyer has lower redemption rates than Flying Club for travel on Virgin Atlantic? Well, the 100,000 mile Upper Class redemption level between the US and Europe is in line with what Virgin Atlantic would charge directly through their program for travel between the west coast and Europe. But that’s about it, and certainly not an ideal uses of Ultimate Rewards points, given how valuable they are.
In general if you want to redeem Ultimate Rewards points for travel on Virgin Atlantic, you’re best off going directly through Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club program, rather than through Singapore’s KrisFlyer.
Either way, Ultimate Rewards points aren’t really efficiently redeemed for travel on Virgin Atlantic. You’ll get much better value out of using Ultimate Rewards for other redemption opportunities. And for that matter, you’re generally best off redeeming Delta SkyMiles for travel on Virgin Atlantic, given that they don’t impose fuel surcharges for such redemptions (assuming they originate outside of Europe).
Hi Lucky, I'm wondering if there's been any changes or updates to the Krisflyer redemption on VA process. I've recently moved back to the UK from SG and want to use miles on Virgin to Bridgetown. So far Krisflyer are only offering me routes with Air Canada or New Zealand and I can't seem to find a way to extricate Virgin availability info out of them.
Thanks for the clarification on using Delta miles. Looking forward to being able to book one way awards on Delta.
I'm confused about your statement that if I book a VS flight from Europe to US using Delta miles I can avoid fuel charges. I just did a test booking on Delta and even in off season, the miles needed were 60000 Delta plus $610 in taxes/fees. The same flights booked directly on VS are fewer miles (even taking into account the award sale ending today) and only $407 in taxes/fees. I'd love to see...
I'm confused about your statement that if I book a VS flight from Europe to US using Delta miles I can avoid fuel charges. I just did a test booking on Delta and even in off season, the miles needed were 60000 Delta plus $610 in taxes/fees. The same flights booked directly on VS are fewer miles (even taking into account the award sale ending today) and only $407 in taxes/fees. I'd love to see a blog about what other airlines' miles can be used to allow one to avoid fuel charges on flights of airlines that do. For example, are there any airlines' miles that one can use to book an award on BA metal transatlantic and avoid fuel charges? Thanks.
@ Pat -- Delta DOES impose fuel surcharges if originating in Europe. I was saying they don't impose fuel surcharges if originating outside of Europe. So you wouldn't be charged those if you were flying US to Europe instead of Europe to US.
Lucky, I have a lot of respect for you but India is most definitely NOT in the middle east -- and the post as it stands may lead some to guess you don't know that...
@ NB -- Whoops, wasn't suggesting it was in the Middle East, but for most airlines the award charts group together the Middle East and India. It appears that may not be the case here, and instead it's considered Central Asia. My mistake.
Im thinking about flying VA to LHR and then taking the chunnel over to Paris. What would you recommend is the best way to use UR or MR to get back from CDG to MIA?
@ David -- If flying direct is most important to you, then it might be worth booking Air France direct using FlyingBlue miles. If you're looking for the lowest coast, I'd consider booking through Aeroplan. You can book United for 45,000 miles one-way in business class, without fuel surcharges. Good luck!
Lucky, you note -- "Singapore KrisFlyer miles can only be redeemed for roundtrip travel on Virgin Atlantic, while Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles can be redeemed for one-way travel on their own flights"
True, but the rule is reciprocal. You cannot redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for one-way travel on Singapore either...