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Continental Ending Relationship With Virgin Atlantic February 13

by on January 21, 2012 · 17 comments

in American Express, ANA, Continental, Virgin Atlantic

Continental announced it is ending its partnership with Virgin Atlantic on February 13, 2012, which is a huge blow to the new United program, in my opinion. Virgin Atlantic has always had great award availability, which made transatlantic (and beyond) travel much more easy to book with Continental miles than almost any other mileage currency.

Per Continental.com (soon to be United.com):

Effective February 13, 2012 we will discontinue our OnePass partnership with Virgin Atlantic. Mileage accrual benefits are valid for travel through February 13, 2012. Please refer to the Mileage Credit Request Form for information regarding obtaining missing mileage credit.

For redeeming awards: OnePass reward reservations for travel on Virgin Atlantic must be confirmed and ticketed by February 13, 2012, and they are valid one year from the date ticketed. So if you were thinking of using your OnePass miles to book a flight on Virgin Atlantic, you’ve got to do it by February 13 for travel within a year or you’re out of luck.

I’ve never flown Virgin Atlantic, so I’m going to use my OnePass miles to book an award on the airline before then for travel within the next few months. One of the things I like about Continental/United is that they let you route via Europe to Asia. So you can fly Virgin Atlantic Chicago to London (stop for a couple days/weeks) and then London to Hong Kong, for example for only 65,000 miles in economy or 120,000 in business class. Continental/United is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Sapphire Preferred and Ink Bold cards, both of which have current 50,000 limited time sign-up bonuses.

New York- London- Hong Kong on Virgin Atlantic for only 65,000 miles and $180 in fees.

Once this partnership ends, you can still book Virgin Atlantic awards with other partners, such as:

1. Using ANA miles, which will still be possible thanks to the airlines’ continuing partnership, though you’ll still have to pay steep fuel surcharges ($400+).

2. Transferring Amex Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic and using those to book travel, though again, you’ll still have those fuel charges levied on the ticket. They often run transfer bonuses, which can make this worthwhile.

Not great, but still, these are better than no options at all.

There’s nothing worse than a breakup that comes the day before Valentine’s Day, and this is one that will be hurting well into 2012.

Hat tip: Lucky.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • PJ

    1 Virgin America Elevate = 2 MR points 1 Virgin Altantic Club = 1 MR points i was so thrilled thinking Virgin has only one program Hope more Amex MR members can register their wish to see lower if not close to par MR to Elevate transfer ratio . I would assume it would also take 2 points of Vrigin Atlantic points to get one Virgin American Elevate point correct ?

  • Cathy

    Brian, you have to check out the Virgin lounge at Heathrow. Spend some actual time there. It’s amazing! BTW Virgin Upper Class is my favorite ride to London.

  • Chrisgar

    Can you only see Virgin availability on the CO website prior to 2/13? and if so can I use the Virgin site to find an award seat and call Co to book it?

    Also, Can I do a one way from LAX – LHR – Tokyo on VS and then do another one way from Tokyo to LAX using either CO miles or BA miles etc? Would the VA segments be 60k in Upper class since it is a one way? I’d like to go to Tokyo but get a chance to experience the Upper Class lounge and maybe spend a few days in London, on the way back from Tokyo, I’d do ANA business but I don’t think they offer one way awards, what about JAL one way?

  • MJLouise

    Anyone have luck redeeming Hawaiian miles for Virgin Atlantic flights? Availability, fees?

  • Del

    Do not fly ORD-LHR if you want to try VS out. I flew this route last year and VS used their crappy old A343 on the route this aircraft does not even have AVOD plus the image quality is dreadful. In addition to that the lounge they use at ORD is the SAS lounge which is quite frankly pathetic and run down.I think you would be better off connecting via JFK where you will get a much better product and experience.

    Just my own opinion but I wasnt all that impressed with VS upper class as all after having read and seen so much good stuff. The staff was professional but not very friendly, the catering was subpar at best and the seat though flat was quite claustrophobic because its very narrow. Delta’s seats on the 777 are far superior to the VS ones I think, and based on the food I was served I would say the VS food is no better than DL. One redeeming factor was the VS arrivals lounge at LHR that was very nice with great staff, food, shower and shave :-)

  • Anonymous

    I’ve heard everything from RAVE reviews from travelers I trust to just “eh” so I’m looking forward to trying it out myself. Will report back!

  • Anonymous

    CO is very reliable so I wouldn’t bother using Virgin because they may make more award seats available to their own members than they do to CO

  • Anonymous

    I’m looking foward to the Clubhouse! Now where to go beyond London…..

  • LisaA.

    Oh, this is bad bad bad. CO. has aways gotten me anywhere I’ve wanted to go in Europe and mainly via the JFK-LHR flight on Virgin to start, changing to whatever partner takes me where I want to go after that. It’s been a never-miss/no-brainer. There has always been availability. And Virgin is a fantastic airline, always a party. Everyone who works there is happy! I’ve basically just thrown all my eggs in the CO/UA basket via the Chase Sapphire card., and am a huge Europe traveler. This is so frustrating.

  • Del

    look forward to hearing your take. Just trust me on skipping the ORD-LHR route ;-)

  • Ralph L

    Is anyone else having an issue finding these flights on CO’s website? I’ve tried replicating TPG’s above and can’t get it to match. I’ve also tried flights after 2/13 and as Chrisgar pointed out, they are not showing either. Am I doing something wrong? What’s the best way to check availability?

  • PatMike

    Continental agent just told me that they cannot book award tickets on Virgin for TRAVEL after Feb 13th. Luckily, she disconnecte me (after a lengthy hold). I’m calling back.

  • PatMike

    His booking above has flight dates before Feb 13, 2012. Perhaps the agent I spoke with was correct and they are no longer booking for flights after Feb 13.

  • SLOCouple

    I receive this when looking on CO for award availability FRA-NBO in September 2012. First, FRA-LHR on LH. Then:
    Change Planes. Connect time in London, England (LHR – Heathrow) is 2 hours 10 minutes.
    Depart:
    9:00 p.m.
    Thu., Sep. 27, 2012
    London, England (LHR – Heathrow)

    Arrive:
    7:50 a.m. +1 Day
    Fri., Sep. 28, 2012
    Nairobi, Kenya (NBO)
    Flight Time:8 hr 50 mn
    Travel Time:12 hr 40 mn
    Flight: VS671
    Operated by Virgin Atlantic Airways.
    Aircraft: Airbus A340-300
    Meal: Breakfast

  • PatMike

    Booked this round-the-world trip for 120K miles each. SFO-LHR-PVG on Virgin Atlantic. I have points for a free inter-Thai ticket to BKK and now all I need is a one way ticket from BKK to DPS (17,500 each for business).

    http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=SFO-LHR-PVG-BKK-usm-BKK-DPS-BKK-NRT-SFO&MS=wls&PC=red&RC=navy&DU=mi

  • PatMike

    forgot to mention that this is business class, of course…

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