Overlooking Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Can Be Costly

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Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is one of only a handful of travel rewards programs that partner with four of the five major flexible rewards currencies. Not only does this make it easy to bank a ton of miles, but it's also incredibly easy to consolidate your transferable points for an award ticket.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Annual Fee$550
Welcome Bonus Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Chase's flagship Ultimate Rewards card. You get a $300 travel credit, airport lounge access courtesy of a Priority Pass membership and industry-leading travel insurance benefits. New cardholders earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
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  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
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  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit
  • 3X points on dining at restaurants
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

We recently shared how you could save with American Express Offering 30% Transfer Bonus to Virgin Atlantic. If you took advantage of the fantastic transfer bonus, three sweet spots you should be considering are offered by Delta, ANA, and Air New Zealand. Overlooking these could cost you thousands or even hundreds of thousands of points.

Fly Delta One Suites to Japan

Delta One Business Suite A350 Window

If you are chasing an award on Delta One Suites on the new A350-900, you'll want to check routes to Asia from DTW or MSP. Using Expertflyer, we've located the following information:

Expertflyer Award Search
Expertflyer Award Search
Delta One saver space
Delta One saver space
Delta One saver space
Delta One saver space

Now that we see the space is available, let's check out Delta. The cash price is fairly high:

Delta One cash fare to HND
Delta One cash fare to HND
That's still a lot of miles!
That's still a lot of miles!

Using Skymiles, you could get a reasonable return when comparing cash to points. However, using Virgin Atlantic's Flying Club Miles, you can get these flights for even less.

A better deal!
A better deal!

You can look at the flight numbers and see that these are the exact same flights! If you aren't 100% sure, you can look into the details to verify.

A350-900 Flying Club booking
A350-900 Flying Club booking

That's just the start of the story, though. These tickets are half the award price, and we haven't even taken into account the 30% transfer bonus. After accounting for the transfer bonus, we really only need 185,000 MR; that's a 295,000 point savings!

30% Transfer Bonus
30% Transfer Bonus

Europe is another reason many people take notice of Flying Club. One of the top destinations in the world is Paris, France. However, for someone like me, getting business class seats for a family of four can be a bit of a challenge. This transfer bonus again comes to the rescue, because $17,000 for flights is more than most people spend on vacations all-in.

Delta One Cash Flight to Paris
Delta One Cash Flight to Paris
Skymiles for a family of four to Paris
Skymiles for a family of four to Paris

Once again, Virgin Atlantic's Flying Club comes to the rescue. Right off the bat, this saves 240,000 points/miles.

Award flights to Paris
Award flights to Paris

That's a fantastic savings, but why end there? Again taking advantage of the 30% transfer bonus, we can come away for just over 300,000 Membership Rewards points.

30% Transfer bonus comes in handy again
30% Transfer bonus comes in handy again

Again, this is a great benefit of flexible points such as American Express Membership Rewards. However, one of the more aspirational uses of Flying Club miles is booking ANA First Class.

Fly ANA First Class

ANA Takeoff Featured

These aren't always easy to come by, but signing up for a free award alert service such as Spencer Howard's award alerts at Straight to the Points might help. Of course, the best way is to find them yourself using Expertflyer. One of the reasons this can be a challenge is that ANA doesn't usually open up much space in first class. Second, these must be booked as part of a round-trip when using Flying Club. However, their partner award chart is one of the best in the business.

Flying Club ANA award chart
Flying Club ANA award chart

As you can see highlighted above, ANA first class is bookable for just 120,000 Flying Club miles (round-trip). Again this requires that “saver space” is available. This is where your Expertflyer subscription is going to come in handy.

"O" First Class saver space on departing flight
“O” First Class saver space on departing flight
"O" First Class saver space on returning flight
“O” First Class saver space on returning flight

These are also bookable on United, which can be useful if you only wish to book one way. However, United charges 110,000 miles each way.

Booking ANA First with United Miles
Booking ANA First Class with United Miles

If you are earning a load of United miles, this may be one of the best returns on a mile-to-dollar basis. That's because the cash cost of this flight is over $21,000 PER PERSON!

ANA First Class Cash Fare
ANA First Class Cash Fare

Now, you could also transfer your MR points to ANA to book, which might be advantageous if you wish to get ahead of other travellers, because they open their award calendar 355 days in advance, whereas Virgin Atlantic's Flying Club only allows you to book 330 days out.

ANA First Class Saver Award Fare
ANA First Class Saver Award Fare

However, recall that the Virgin Atlantic's Flying Club partner award chart above allows us to book round-trip saver awards for 120,000. With the transfer bonus, that's significantly less than 150,000 points.

Transfer bonus saves
Transfer bonus saves

For more information, check out Virgin Atlantic's (ANA partner award) site.

Fly Business-Class on Air New Zealand

Virgin Atlantic miles can help reduce your burn
Virgin Atlantic miles can help reduce your burn

Many traveling on miles and points look for ways to enhance their travel experience. Realizing that 15-hour flights can be torturous, finding ways to obtain access to a bed may make this one of the better award opportunities available (when the space opens). If New Zealand is in your future, don't forget to look for saver space on Air New Zealand (NZ).

Business Class Saver Award Space on Air New Zealand
Business Class Saver Award Space on Air New Zealand

One of the easiest Star Alliance partners to check and book this with is United. Pulling up the award search engine on United, we verify that space is showing as available.

Business Class search through United
Business Class search through United

Non-stop business class can be booked for 62,500 each way using Virgin Miles. With the current 30% transfer bonus from American Express, that's 49,000 each way. The same flight using UA miles is 90,000, plus a 3,000 close-in penalty.

Virgin Atlantic Air New Zealand Partner Award Chart
Virgin Atlantic Air New Zealand Partner Award Chart

For more information, check out Virgin Atlantic's (Air New Zealand Partner Award) site.

When (and How) to Book

There have been a few opportunities annually to take advantage of transfer offers from American Express and Citi, such as this one: 30% Bonus on Citi ThankYou Transfers to Virgin Atlantic. Offers such as this and the one mentioned at the beginning of this post can turn an excellent deal into one that is superb. However, waiting for a transfer bonus may not be in your best interest if saver space becomes available. Transferring points speculatively is also not recommended, as there could be a random and instantaneous devaluation at any point.

While some Delta awards are bookable online, the rest of these are not, and you must call Flying Club to book. However, Flying Club agents have been very friendly and resourceful in my experience, and you can have them verify that the award space is available before transferring your points. Awards can even be placed on hold while waiting for your points to transfer. You can check recent transfer times using Awardwallet's Transfer Times tool.

Call Centers

Flying Club agents can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Listed below are the numbers:

  • USA +1 800 365 9500 or text 97634
  • UK 0344 412 2414 or text at 07481 339184
  • South Africa +27 11 340 3535
  • Hong Kong +852 2532 3000
  • China +86 21 5353 4600
  • India +1-800-102-3000 (toll free), +91-124-4693030
  • Caribbean +1 800 744 7477

Final Thoughts

Overall, Virgin Atlantic is an incredible partner for booking awards. Especially if you can take advantage of transfer bonuses like the 30% American Express Membership Rewards bonus earlier this month. It can help you book your next trip for less and gain super-sized value for your rewards. What are some of the best returns you've received?

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