Overlooking Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Can Be Costly Overlooking Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Can Be Costly

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. This makes it easy for you to bank a ton of miles. In addition, it makes it incredibly simple for you to consolidate your transferable points for an award ticket.

That's not to mention the additional value you can get from the program. We've previously shared how you could save with an American Express transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic or a transfer bonus from Chase Ultimate Rewards. These transfer bonuses come and go. However, if you take advantage of these excellent transfer bonus opportunities, you can get even more out of some Virgin Atlantic Sweet spots.

Four Virgin Atlantic sweet spots deserve special attention: ANA, Hawaiian Airlines, Air New Zealand, and Delta. Overlooking these could cost you thousands or even hundreds of thousands of points.

Fly ANA First or Business Class Using Virgin Points

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club offers excellent award rates on ANA awards — even after a significant no-notice devaluation. Here is the updated chart. Note that award prices are round-trip:

RouteEconomy Class Mileage RequirementBusiness Class Mileage RequirementFirst Class Mileage Requirement
Domestic Japan15,000--
Japan–South Korea18,00035,00050,000
Japan–China/Guam/Hong Kong/Philippines/Taiwan23,00045,00060,000
Japan–Australia/Canada/Western USA60,00090,000145,000
Japan–Europe/Central and Eastern USA65,00095,000170,000

As you can see, ANA first class between Japan and the U.S. costs 145,000 or 170,000 Flying Club miles round-trip, depending on the route. West Coast routes are cheaper. Again this requires that “saver space” is available.

Business class award space is much easier to find and can be an even better deal, with awards costing just 90,000–95,000 miles round-trip between the U.S. and Japan.

Note that you can book one-way awards on ANA for half the round-trip price. That's useful if you only find availability one way or want to use another mileage program to fly the other direction.

Finding ANA Award Availability

Finding ANA first class award availability can be especially challenging, as the carrier doesn't open much award space — particularly in the first class cabin.

To be alerted when this award availability opens up, consider signing up for an award alert service such as Thrifty Traveler Premium+ or Spencer Howard's Straight to the Points award alerts. If you know how to use it, you can set up alerts to find availability yourself using ExpertFlyer.

I prefer searching for ANA awards on United's site. It's easy; you can filter to “nonstop only,” and partner space available to United should be bookable by Virgin Atlantic.

Once you settle on your preferred flights, call Virgin Atlantic (see final section below). Provide your flight dates and numbers to the agent, and they will confirm that award seats are available. Then, you can complete your booking by paying the required cash and miles.

If you don't have the miles to book, you can put the award on hold while you transfer points. However, transfers from all major bank currencies to Virgin Atlantic are immediate.

Comparing Virgin Atlantic Award Prices to Other Options

Let's compare some award rates to give you an idea of just how good of a deal Virgin Atlantic Flying Club's award chart is.

If you find award availability — and book at least three weeks in advance — you can book ANA first class between the U.S. and Japan for 121,000 United Mileage Plan miles one-way:


You can save a bit by booking the same award through Air Canada Aeroplan for 110,000 points:


However, you'd pay just 85,000 Virgin points one-way for this same award. Even after the recent devaluation, that's still the cheapest mileage rate by far.

The discount is even bigger in business class. For example, United charges 92,000 miles one-way in business from Chicago to Tokyo when booked close to departure.


Booking through Virgin Atlantic is nearly a 50% discount, costing just 47,500 Virgin points each way.

You'll pay just 45,000 miles for a one-way business class ticket between the West Coast and Tokyo. During a 30% transfer bonus, you could snag a seat for just 35k points!

Comparing Virgin Atlantic Flying Club to ANA Mileage Club

Pivoting to ANA first class awards, it is true that booking through ANA Mileage Club is still a better deal for many U.S. destinations. This is assuming you're not taking advantage of a Virgin Atlantic Flying Club transfer bonus. You can book round-trip first class (one-way awards are not possible) for 150,000 ANA Mileage Club miles.

first-class round-trip award pricing using ANA miles between NYC and Tokyo

Booking with ANA has other advantages. They open their award calendar 355 days in advance, so you can snag a seat ahead of other travelers. Virgin Atlantic's Flying Club only allows you to book 330 days out.

No matter how you book, you're getting an excellent deal. The cash cost of ANA first class is insane — $22,000 or more for the “cheapest” dates!

pricing calendar for JFK-Tokyo cash fares on ANA first class

For more information, check out Virgin Atlantic's ANA partner award page.

Fly Hawaiian Airlines Using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is a perennially good option for a number of flights on Hawaiian Airlines. Award rates are at least as good as the lowest-level Hawaiian Airlines Saver awards. Business class awards for flights to Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and South Pacific destinations are equal to what you'd pay with HawaiianMiles.

RouteEconomy Class Mileage RequirementFirst / Business Class Mileage Requirement
Inter-Island Hawaii15,00030,000
Hawaii–West Coast Mainland USA40,00080,000
Hawaii–South Pacific55,00095,000
Hawaii–Asia/Australia/New Zealand/East Coast Mainland USA80,000130,000

Finding saver-level space available to partners is the main hurdle here. Hawaiian Airlines award flights don't show up online with Virgin. To search inter-island flights, you can use united.com. For other routes, ExpertFlyer is your best bet. Search for T class space for economy awards and D class space for business awards.

If you search Hawaiian Air directly, you'll need to make sure the seats are showing the lowest possible price based on the HawaiianMiles award chart. Then, call Virgin Atlantic to confirm and book.

Fly Business Class on Air New Zealand

Many people traveling on points and miles look for ways to enhance their travel experience. Since 15-hour flights can be torturous, finding 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, remember to look for saver space on Air New Zealand. It's a rare beast, but it's worth the trouble if you have time to plan and some flexibility.

One of the easiest Star Alliance partners for searching and booking here is United. On United's site, I found a nonstop flight from Auckland to Los Angeles that costs 99,000 miles each way.

Air New Zealand flight award price on United's website

Nonstop business class costs 45,000 miles each way between the South Pacific and Los Angeles using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. If you catch a 30% transfer bonus from American Express, that's just 35k points each way!

The only murky point is the change in verbiage from “New Zealand” to “South Pacific” to Los Angeles. This is different that the previous Virgin Atlantic award chart for Air New Zealand, which had South Pacific and New Zealand listed separately. There are no nonstops between other places in the South Pacific and Los Angeles, though Air New Zealand may resume LAX–Rarotonga service at some point.

RouteEconomy Class Mileage RequirementBusiness Class Mileage Requirement
Domestic New Zealand15,000-
New Zealand–Australia20,00030,000
New Zealand–Pacific Islands20,00030,000
New Zealand–Asia60,00080,000
New Zealand–Hawaii60,00090,000
South Pacific–Los Angeles60,00090,000
New Zealand–Europe120,000190,000

For more information, you can check out Virgin Atlantic's Air New Zealand partner award page.

Short Hops on Delta and Aeromexico

The only upside to a devaluation of the Virgin Atlantic award chart for Delta Air Lines flights is that short-haul awards became cheaper. Now, select international routes (i.e. Texas cities to Mexico) start at just 6,500 miles, while many domestic Mexico routes will price at just 5,500 miles one-way. The Aeromexico award chart is slightly better than the Delta chart.

Whichever SkyTeam carrier you choose, you can hit many routes between the countries for 7,000 to 15,000 Flying Club miles in economy.

Flight Distance (miles)Delta Main Cabin Mileage RequirementDelta One / First Mileage Requirement

Business class on Aeromexico is a decent deal, too. It starts at just 15,500 points for hops like MEX–DFW, MEX–IAH, and MEX–SAT. It handily beats business class on Delta.

Flight Distance (miles)Economy Mileage RequirementBusiness Mileage Requirement

You'll need to call Virgin Atlantic to book Aeromexico awards. Delta awards can be booked online, but they can be difficult to find. Phone numbers for Virgin Atlantic Flying Club are below.

When (and How) to Book

We see transfer bonuses semi-regularly from Amex to Flying Club, from Citi to Flying Club, and from Chase to Flying Club. These 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 also isn't recommended because there could be further devaluations at any point.

While some Delta awards are bookable online, most sweet spots are not available online. Instead, you must call Flying Club to book. Flying Club agents are generally very friendly and resourceful in my experience, and they can verify that the award space is available before transferring your points.

You can place awards on hold while waiting for your points to transfer. To see how long points take to transfer, check recent transfer times using AwardWallet's Transfer Times tool.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Call Centers

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

  • U.K.: 0344-209-2722
  • USA: 800-862-8621
  • Caribbean: 800-744-7477
  • China: +86-21-5353-4600
  • India: +91-124-4693030
  • South Africa: +27-11-340-3400

Phone numbers in other locations are available here.

Final Thoughts

The days of using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club to book cheap Delta business-class awards are gone. A significantly devalued Delta award chart and extremely poor award availability (just check the reward seat availability calendar) are a soul-crushing combination. Delta One Suites has become extremely difficult to book with miles on many routes.

However, Virgin Atlantic is still a decent option for specific partner awards — especially if you can take advantage of transfer bonuses that come semi-regularly. These can help you book your next trip for less and gain super-sized value for your rewards. While not all awards are as valuable as they used to be, you shouldn't sleep on Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

What are some of the best returns you've received from Flying Club?

4.9 / 5 - (14 votes)
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