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Virgin Atlantic has offered sales before that give travelers a discounted rate for award travel to the UK. It seems these sales come around with the carrier every once in a while — there was a 25% discount offer in May 2015 and Virgin also offered 50% off during a 2-for-1 sale. However, the question that always comes up with these deals is whether or not it’s worth it to book an award ticket given the high taxes and fees that the carrier tacks on to your award ticket.
This time, Virgin Atlantic is offering 30% off award economy tickets to the UK if you book by May 11. With the 30% discount, flights from numerous cities in the US to the UK are as few as 24,500 miles round-trip. However, for each round-trip ticket you’ll need to pay more than $400 in taxes, fees and carrier-imposed surcharges.
In most cases, the high prices of the additional fees can make this offer seem more expensive, however, it can definitely be worth it. Keep in mind, though, that you’re not earning any miles on these flights because they’re entirely award tickets.
You can see the full list of cities included in the deal here, but below you can find a chart with the going rates from a number of major US cities:
|To/From UK||Economy Flying Club Miles Round-Trip||Taxes, Fees and Carrier-Imposed Surcharges|
|Orlando (from Gatwick; Manchester; Glasgow)||29,750||$403; $409; $404|
|Atlanta (from Manchester)||24,500||$445 ($409)|
|Las Vegas (from Gatwick; Manchester)||29,750||$403; $409|
The sale is only good for full mileage reward seats, not Miles Plus Money fares. In addition, the deal is only available for economy awards, not those in Upper Class.
For a round-trip flight between JFK and LHR in May, you can book an award ticket at the discounted rate for 24,500 Flying Club miles and $445. If you were to pay cash for the same ticket, it would cost you a total of $1,701. Based on TPG’s most recent valuations, which peg Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points at 1.5 cents apiece, the round-trip award ticket would cost around $368. When adding the additional fees, the total for the ticket comes to around $813 — in this case, the discounted award ticket would save you around $888.
For a round-trip flight between LAX and LHR in September, you can book an award ticket at the discounted rate for 29,750 Flying Club miles and $445. If you were to pay cash for the same ticket, it would cost you a total of $1,171. Based on TPG’s valuations, the round-trip award ticket would cost around $446. When adding the additional fees, the total for the ticket comes to around $891 — again, making the award ticket a more valuable option, saving you around $280.
Ultimately, it may be worth it to take advantage of the 30% off in economy with Virgin Atlantic depending on your origin and travel dates, and if you’re willing to shell out the cash and not earn any miles in return. But in many cases you can get a decent return from this sale, saving you hundreds of dollars on a round-trip ticket to the UK.
If you’re looking to increase your stash of Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles, don’t forget that you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic at a 1:1 ratio — and the transfer is instantaneous. You can earn Ultimate Rewards points with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus. In addition, you can transfer points from Amex Membership Rewards at a 1:1 ratio (Premier Rewards Gold; Amex Platinum) and Citi ThankYou Rewards at a 1:1 ratio (Citi ThankYou Premier; Citi Prestige).
You can also get Flying Club miles by signing up for the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard. The card is currently offering 20,000 bonus miles after your first purchase. You’ll earn 3 miles per dollar on Virgin Atlantic purchases and 1.5 miles per dollar on all other purchases. You can also earn up to 15,000 bonus miles on every card anniversary and up to 5,000 bonus miles when you add additional users.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards