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Update: The offer mentioned below for the Platinum Card from American Express has expired. View the current offer here.
For bookings made now through September 20, 2013, for travel from now through the end of its award availability schedule (about 11 months out), Virgin Atlantic is offering discounted economy awards of just 25,000 miles roundtrip between destinations in the US and London. Tickets normally require 35,000 miles, so this is almost a 30% mileage discount.
Virgin Atlantic also recently lowered its enormous fuel surcharges, but you’ll still end up paying in the ballpark of $400-$500, even for these award tickets, as you can see from this sample itinerary from New York to London in November with taxes and fees around $444:
This same itinerary would cost you about $845 – so you’d be getting about 1.6 cents per mile in value.
One bit of good news is that you can also book discounted one-ways for half the miles, such as this one from New York to London for just 12,500 miles and $131 in fees and taxes:
Here is a page with the discounted cities listed and here’s the table with the award pricing:
New York JFK
And awards from the following cities are discounted from 42,500 miles to 35,000 miles:
San Francisco (33,000 miles)
Unfortunately, this discount is only on economy awards and not premium economy or Upper Class, so because of the still-high surcharges and taxes on these tickets, you are still limited as to the amount of value you can pull from each point. However, if you were planning to redeem a Virgin Atlantic economy award anyway, you might as well use this discount to do so using fewer miles.
Also remember that Virgin Atlantic is a transfer partner of all three transferable points programs, American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest and Chase Ultimate Rewards, so if you’re earning points on a card like the Amex Premier Rewards Gold or Platinum Card, or the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink Plus, you can transfer those points to your Flying Club account for a redemption.