Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Devalues Sweet Spot Redemption

Filed Under: Air China, Awards

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is a program that largely has overpriced redemptions, though also has a surprising number of award chart sweet spots. Just recently Spencer wrote about some of their sweet spot redemptions on partner airlines, including for travel on Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, and Delta.

One of the most remarkable Flying Club values is their redemption costs for travel on Air China. Flying Club miles can only be redeemed for travel on Air China between London and Beijing (they don’t allow redemptions on any other routes), and roundtrip redemption rates are as follows:

  • Economy — 56,000 miles
  • Business — 63,000 miles
  • First — 75,000 miles

As of May 1, 2018, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club will be increasing redemption rates for travel in first and business class on Air China. They’re not just mildly increasing redemption rates, but rather are obliterating redemption rates. The new rates for these city pairs will be as follows:

  • Economy — 56,000 miles
  • Business — 135,000 miles
  • First — 200,000 miles

As you can see, redemption rates in business class and first class are more than doubling, so these are going from sweet spot redemptions to nearly worthless redemptions.

Note that there are also hefty fees on these redemptions, totaling about $780 roundtrip in business or first class. That’s due to the $217 UK Air Passenger Duty, as well as the $486 in carrier imposed surcharges, in addition to the airport taxes.

If you’ve been eying this award then you’ll want to book in the next couple of days, because once this change is made this will no longer be a decent redemption. It’s a shame to see one of these sweet spots disappear, given that Virgin Atlantic has only a few of them. If you do want to book I recommend looking up award availability online with one of Air China’s Star Alliance partners, and then calling Virgin Atlantic to book, as they don’t allow online redemptions on Air China.

For a sense of what you can expect from Air China first class, see my review.

Does anyone plan on ticketing one of these Air China awards before the cost is increased significantly?

(Tip of the hat to Head for Points)

  1. I just redeemed a one-way first class ticket PEK-LHR in June with 37500 Virgin Atlantic miles and a co-pay of 319 USD today. It’s also possible to hold the award space for 24 hours so that you can have enough time to transfer points from other programs.

  2. To be honest, I’m not surprised. I’m all for great redemptions, but ~37,000 miles each way for a 10-11 hour flight is too good to be true.

    Besides, I wouldn’t spend valuable Virgin miles on a carrier like Air China, given other redemption possibilities with ANA, South African, and Delta One Transcontinental. Also, one-way premium economy on Virgin for 17,000 miles + ~$160 in taxes is great as well.

  3. I booked this award for two family members a year ago. Air China failed to recognise the fare class, even when we pointed out the high taxes (>£1,000) we’d paid, and put them in economy.

    Over 7 months, I called and sent complaints to Air China UK, Air China Europe, Air China Beijing, each time was fobbed off with “we’re still looking into it”. I filed an official case with the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s dispute resolution body, which has binding powers over airlines, and Air China even ignored them! I now have a judgment in my favour against Air China, but it looks like they may keep ignoring both me and official bodies unless I start legal action.

  4. Is it only air China? I was planning to transfer 120K points to Virgin Atlantic for these sweet spots. Please update.

  5. @John Air China is infamous for dishonoring award tickets. They even cancel confirmed award tickets booked by other partner airlines just before travel dates. They even pretend to be the customer or their relatives and call ANA customer service to cancel tickets in Japanese language, because tickets issued by ANA cannot be cancelled online.

  6. @Debit:

    What part of “Just recently Spencer wrote about some of their sweet spot redemptions on partner airlines”, complete with live link to that post, didn’t you understand?

  7. @Robert Hanson

    What part of “recently wrote is useless to us” fails you?

    I work under the premise that bloggers tell us just enough to push their cards. So there maybe other sweet spots that we aren’t told. Those are the crown jewels that bloggers keep to themselves.

  8. Guess I should’ve known by the title picture, but had a mini-heart attack since I just booked my wife RT to Japan ANA F using VA last week and am planning on booking mine in a day or two (different departure date and confirming time off with work first, or we’d have booked same time)

  9. Let’s see…
    1. Blog writes gushing circles-‘n-arrows post explaining details of a great but little-known loophole/exploit.
    2. Days later the loophole/exploit is closed.

    I’m sure that these two things are not linked in any way – no cause-and-effect where whatsoever.

    “Thanks, Lucky!!!”

  10. @Debit You really are a tedious bore. I get that you find yourself uproariously amusing and ever-so-edgy, but you’re Robinson Crusoe there.

  11. @Adam

    Good thing it’s easy to ignore comments here. I don’t pick oin your comments. Stop being a troll.

  12. @Debit

    You ignore comments, and you manage to reply to every one… If this content isn’t of interest to you, move on. If you think bloggers are hiding award chart sweet spots, do more research so you beat them to the punch. If you want to take what you’re spoon-fed for free, stop complaining about credit card referrals like you’ve stumbled onto some brilliant insight.

  13. @Rubin the Virgin Atlantic ANA F deal has been public for months and hasn’t disappeared. So not sure correlation exactly equals causation there.

  14. @Debit “a troll”?

    I’ll need to add “doesn’t understand irony” to your list of tedious flaws.

  15. hmmm, but who wants to take air china anyway. if you don’t intend to fly to mainland china, it’s common sense to avoid chinese carriers altogether (excluding HK and TW carriers) at all cost.

  16. You guys huffing at Debit are just as absurd as you claim he/she/it is. Who the hell wants a sterile library or a boring boardroom here. Get a life. Life should be comedic and ridiculous sometimes.

  17. Avoid Chinese carriers at all cost?
    Not sure I agree

    It’s true, they are rough
    But sometimes they are the only J or F award tickets available

    I’d rather fly China Eastern J than ANA E.

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