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The ultimate Virgin Atlantic Flying Club guide

Sept. 20, 2020
7 min read
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Flying Club is the loyalty program of Virgin Atlantic. It has some quirks — both good and bad — but can offer fantastic value if you dedicate the time to understanding the program.

The Basics

Virgin Atlantic operates to a range of destinations across North America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia from its hubs at London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Manchester. Virgin operates a mix of Boeing 787, 747, Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft, as well as its A350 aircraft featuring brand new seats in each of the three classes: economy, premium (premium economy) and Upper Class (business class).

TPG is going to review as many Virgin Atlantic products as possible, so be sure to check back. For now, here are some to start with:

Earning Miles

You can earn Flying Club miles by crediting flights from the following airlines:

  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Air China
  • Air France/KLM
  • Air New Zealand
  • ANA
  • Delta
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • SAS
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • Virgin Australia

Flying Club offers a fantastic miles booster where you can purchase miles at a cheap price based on the miles you would fly, on award or revenue tickets, in the future or in the past six months. Virgin also offers bonuses on this booster deal, making the miles even cheaper to acquire. You can read all about this offer here.

You can also transfer miles from Membership Rewards at a rate of 1:1. As you might expect, you can earn Flying Club miles with Virgin Hotels and Virgin Holidays as well.

There is also the ability to earn Flying Club miles directly with the following hotels:

Finally, you can earn Flying Club miles with miscellaneous partners like Virgin Money, Virgin Trains, and Hertz.

Virgin Atlantic A330 premium economy. Photo by Ben Smithson / The Points Guy.

Redeeming Miles

You can redeem Flying Club miles for flights on the following airlines:

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  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Air China
  • Air New Zealand
  • ANA
  • Delta
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • Virgin Australia

The process of redeeming for Virgin Atlantic-operated flights is easy. On the main booking page of VirginAtlantic.com, select the radio button that says pay with miles and complete your search:

TPG really likes the five-week flexible date search option and the calendar of results displayed. You can easily find availability and switch between economy, premium economy and Upper Class results and scan even more dates.

Unfortunately, when it comes to partner award searches with the engine, the site is very buggy.

You can use the Virgin Atlantic engine to find and book Delta-operated flights, but when you go to search routes, you’ll find the city you want will not always appear as an option. You may have to force the city by clicking the purple bubble icon and selecting region, etc.

Not all cities and countries are available in the drop-down list, and there’s no further workaround. If you want to fly a Delta route with Virgin Atlantic miles that’s not able to be populated by manually selecting the city, you have to call a Flying Club agent to find availability and book the route.

The next problem with the engine happens after forcing it to populate your desired route (if available). The option to select 'pay with miles' is often grayed out and cannot be selected:

I haven’t found a fool-proof process to ensure you’ll always be able to select 'pay with miles'. My best practice is to complete an award search on a Virgin Atlantic route like New York to London where you can always select 'pay with miles', then click the refine search option in the upper-right portion of the screen and input the route you want to fly:

Even after completing the initial award search with 'pay with miles' selected, sometimes when you force-input the routing you want, the engine will revert back to 'pay with card'. You just have to keep refining searches or starting over until the website allows you to select 'pay with miles'. Incredibly frustrating, but worth the effort.

Delta One Suites. Photo by Emily McNutt / The Points Guy)
Delta One Suites. Photo by Emily McNutt / The Points Guy.

Redeeming for Virgin Atlantic-Operated Flights

As you can see from the above search examples, when you find flights operated by Virgin Atlantic (IATA code VS), the fuel surcharges are outrageous. We certainly don't recommend paying $500 in taxes and fees for an economy-class flight — and you probably shouldn’t, either. Throughout the year, you can easily find economy revenue flights to Europe for less than the taxes and fees VS puts on award tickets. So, TPG doesn't really recommend using this program to book Virgin-operated economy flights.

However, premium economy award tickets from London/Manchester to destinations like Boston, Washington and New York can be good value. For 17,500 miles per person, you can fly premium economy from Boston, Newark, JFK and Washington Dulles to the UK. That’s an excellent mileage rate for a good product, and I've recently used these miles in this exact way myself, obtaining a value of around 4p per mile, which is an excellent use.

Here are a few general notes for award flights booked with Virgin Atlantic miles, including partner-operated flights:

  • You can change your travel date, routing, and class of service for $39 (plus mileage difference).
  • You can cancel your ticket and receive all your miles back for a cancellation fee of $39.
  • You can put award seats on hold, even with partners, for 48 hours with no miles in your account.

Redeeming on Partners

Each partner has a different award chart — some are distance-based and others zone-based. Check each partner airline’s page for full details and terms and conditions. Besides Delta (and even for some Delta routes), you must call Flying Club at 0344 412 2414 to find partner availability and book tickets.

Air New Zealand, Hawaiian and Singapore Airlines don’t offer much value due to poor availability and pricing that’s in line or worse than what’s available through other partners. You should study the charts to see if your particular routing is competitive with your other award-booking options.

There are some fantastic sweet spots on partner airlines though, including:

  • 120,000 miles for a return first class flight from London to Tokyo on ANA;
  • 50,000 miles for a one way Delta One business-class flight from Europe to USA on Delta, with no fuel surcharges;
  • 2,000,000 miles to enter a raffle for a trip to space on Virgin Atlantic.

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Rewards

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  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
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Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
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TPG Exclusive Offer
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards Rate

5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.