Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
$1,000 toward travel or transfer to United, Southwest, and more.
Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card - $85 annual fee.
While Virgin Atlantic is not a member of an alliance, the Flying Club program has several earning and redemption partners.
|Airline||Where to search award space|
|Air New Zealand||United.com|
|All Nippon Airways (ANA)||United.com|
|Delta Air Lines||AirFrance.us or Delta.com|
|Hawaiian Airlines||Call Flying Club|
|Jet Airways||Call Flying Club|
|South African Airways||United.com|
Award space for Virgin Atlantic flights can be searched online. Partner award space can be searched online via the partner airline’s website itself or alliance partners.
Partner awards must be booked by telephone. The US Flying Club Helpline is +1-800-365-9500.
Awards booked on Virgin follow a simple format. Prices are based around round-trips to the UK, with one-way redemptions available at half the cost.
To calculate the cost of an itinerary connecting in the UK, such as New York-London-Johannesburg roundtrip in economy, simply add the round trip cost of New York-London (35,000 miles) and London-Johannesburg (50,000) together for the total cost of 85,000 miles.
The US is effectively split into two redemption zones.
A full chart is available from Virgin Atlantic here.
It is possible to book tickets using a combination of cash and points. A “Miles Plus Money” ticket offers a fixed discount. 3,000 miles earns $45 off of a round-trip Economy fare. 7,500 miles earns a $120 discount off of a Premium Economy fare. 15,000 miles shaves $300 off of a Business class ticket. This yields a “cents per mile” value of 1.5 cents for the Economy discount, 1.6 for Premium Economy, and 2 for Business.
“Combi” fares allow members to redeem a one-way Economy or Premium Economy award and combine it with a cash fare return flight. The return leg is priced at ½ of the published round-trip cash fare. Combi fares are not available for Upper Class itineraries.
Changes of date, route, or class of service to an existing award ticket can be made for $50. Cancellations made outside 24 hours prior to departure cost $50, and all miles, fees, and surcharges will be refunded. With 24 hours, no miles will be refunded, and $50 will be charged to refund taxes, fees, and surcharges.
Virgin allows stopovers in the UK, although UK departures taxes will apply for the outbound sector. On a one-way redemption New York to Johannesburg, this incur $110 in extra fees. Given Virgin prices awards by segment, there are no savings to booking a one way with a stopover vs two separate one way tickets.
On occasion, Virgin will discount its own awards. For a US-based flyer, redemptions need to be considered carefully due to the large surcharges incurred. An economy return New York-London incurs over $400 in taxes and surcharges. When a cash ticket is $860, your cents per mile on the discount is 1.1, which is dreadful. The best value, even with the large surcharges, will be a Business Class redemption. The Business Class redemption will require 80,000 miles and $1,100 in surcharges, but the savings over a cash fare ($6,000+ return) is enormous.
Itineraries without a London stopover (and thus UK departure taxes) are going to be a somewhat better value, particularly in the Business cabin. 180,000 miles and $1500 will get a round-trip to Johannesburg.
BUT, the better values come from partners.
Virgin Atlantic allows Flying Club members to upgrade eligible tickets with miles, but only on its own flights.
Both single and double class upgrades are allowed.
Upgrades are priced on a one-way basis.
From Florida or the West Coast, slightly higher costs apply: 17,500 miles from Economy to Premium Economy, 22,500 miles from Premium Economy to Business, and 40,000 miles from Economy to Business.
The full chart can be viewed here.
Bear in mind that booking an upgradeable Economy ticket may come at a substantial premium to the cheapest available ticket.
A similar $500 spread is found pricing New York-London.
You can read our guide to upgrading on Virgin Atlantic here.
Virgin Atlantic’s partners, except SAS, have a reciprocal Earn / Spend miles arrangement. Delta, Singapore, Virgin America, Hawaiian, and others allow their members to book Virgin Atlantic flights.
Delta SkyMiles redemptions on Virgin Atlantic flights will avoid fuel surcharges, except for trips which begin in Europe.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer has less favorable redemption prices and you can see the award chart for Virgin Atlantic flights with KrisFlyer miles here.
Virgin America has a very favorable award chart for Virgin Atlantic flights, and it is a 1:1 transfer partner with Starwood Preferred Guest, letting you for example book an Upper Class ticket from New York for just 35,000 miles round trip.
We think Virgin miles are worth about 1.5 cents each. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to get very little value out of your Virgin miles – 1 cent or less per mile, especially if you use miles for Economy tickets when they’re already cheap in cash.
But if you save your miles for times when tickets are expensive, Economy Class awards can get you 1.5 cents or more in value, even with fuel surcharges. For example, with a roundtrip Economy ticket from the East Coast costing 35,000 miles plus about $400 in taxes and fees, you can get 1.5 cents in value when all cash tickets are going for $925 or more, which isn’t uncommon.
If you save up for Business Class tickets on Delta, or Upper Class on Virgin you can get 2, 3, or more cents in value from your miles, especially considering Delta flights don’t incur surcharges.
Unusually for a non-US airline, Virgin Atlantic offers two credit cards, the Virgin Atlantic Black Card and the Virgin Atlantic White Card. Both are World Elite Mastercards from Bank of America, but the Black Card offers more generous sign-up, retention, and earning bonuses.
American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi Thank You Rewards each allow members to convert accrued points to Virgin Atlantic miles, making it easy to stockpile for an award via credit card spending.
Hilton HHonors, Hyatt Gold Passport, Intercontinental IHG Rewards Club, Marriot, and Starwood SPG programs allow for the conversion of points to Flying Club Miles.
You can also transfer Flying Club miles into Hilton HHonors points. Every 1 mile gets you 1.5 HHonors points.
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