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Virgin Atlantic recently announced that it is taking on the lack of award space availability head-on by issuing a guarantee of 12 award seats on every Virgin Atlantic flight. Starting at the beginning of July 2022, Virgin Atlantic will make at least 12 award seats available on every single Virgin Atlantic flight:
- 8 economy award seats.
- 2 premium economy award seats.
- 2 Upper Class award seats.
No Additional Award Space for Partners
Several early data points indicated that Virgin had released all this additional award space to its partner airlines. While this seemed to be great news at first, sadly, Virgin appears to have rowed back on this. This additional award space is no longer available to partners and can only be booked using Flying Club points.
Booking Awards with Virgin Flying Club
Looking through the Virgin Atlantic award space, it is imminently clear that there is definitely more around — even in Upper Class. Remember that even though Virgin removed the button to search for awards on its site using a calendar, there is still a workaround available since Virgin has not removed the functionality from the backend of its website.
Searching for an Upper Class award and August is wide open for awards on Virgin’s flagship route from London LHR to New York JFK. Awards are available for 57,500 Virgin points — plus $735 (£622) in taxes, fees, and the dreaded fuel surcharges.
While the increased award space is great, the fuel surcharges are shockingly high for a one-way award. If you want to minimize the sky-high charges Virgin imposes, you have a couple of different options.
Virgin has some odd pricing quirks and seems to penalize round-trip itineraries starting in the US. a round trip from London to New York and back in August will set you back 115,000 points plus $1,175 (£993) in taxes and fees.
If your flight originates in the U.S., things are very different. A round trip from New York to London and Back in August 2022 will set you back 115,000 points plus $2,053 in taxes and fees.
This discrepancy is insane since you are essentially taking the same flights, only one is a few days earlier, and you are paying an additional $878 for the pleasure of doing so. So if your origin is from the UK, this extra space is good news. If your itinerary originates in the U.S., you definitely need to look at alternatives to reduce your surcharges.
Save by Spliting Up U.S.-Origin Awards
If you are looking to book awards in Upper Class originating in the U.S., you are better served by booking 2 one way awards. Bizarrely, this will work out cheaper than a round-trip award. Booking a one-way award from New York to London will set you back 57,500 points plus $876 in taxes and fees.
Booking the return leg will cost you 57,500 points plus $735 (£622) in taxes and fees, as mentioned above.
By breaking up your trip booking, you would end up paying 115,000 points plus $1,611 in taxes and fees, which is a substantial saving on booking a round trip which would set you back $2,053 in taxes and fees.
Booking Virgin Atlantic With Partners
You can book Virgin Atlantic awards via other partners. The value varies between partners, although some do present great value. In some cases, partner bookings can be better than award flights booked directly through Virgin Atlantic. But you need to weigh all aspects of each option.
For example, you can book Virgin awards using ANA miles. However, it is not a great value as the award chart is slightly inflated. Upper Class awards will set you back 88,000 points one-way plus taxes and fees. One thing to be aware of is that ANA tends to pass on the carrier-imposed taxes and fees, so you are likely to get stung by the high fuel surcharges.
Booking Virgin Atlantic Award Space With Delta SkyMiles
You can also book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class awards using Delta SkyMiles. However, Delta seems to think that SkyMiles grow on trees judging by the insane amount it charges for partner awards.
Since Delta does not publish an award chart, it is hard to nail down award pricing — even using our unofficial Delta award chart. However, a one-way award On Virgin Upper Class from JFK to London will set you back an eye-watering 170,000 SkyMiles plus $6 in taxes. While the taxes and fees are a big win, the cost in miles is ridiculous for a one-way flight from New York to London.
Booking Virgin Atlantic Award Space With Flying Blue Miles
The final and best alternative you have for booking Virgin Atlantic flights is using Flying Blue miles. Typically, oneway awards In Upper Class from New York to London will set you back around 56,000 miles plus taxes and fees. While Flying Blue passes on some taxes and fees, they are nowhere near as high as the one levied by Virgin itself.
Couple the decent rates with the fact you can transfer virtually every single credit card point currency to Flying Blue. The program is very attractive and a great option to book a wide range of awards, including Virgin Atlantic.
A 12-award seat guarantee on every Virgin Atlantic flight is excellent news. This guarantee adds significant value to the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club program. The only downside is that this generosity is not shared around, as Virgin has backtracked on opening this additional award space to partners. That being said, any move that adds award space and increases options to use your points and miles is welcome!
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