Unlock incredible value with Virgin Atlantic points
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Years after diving into the points and miles world, it’s frustrating to realize that a loyalty program you had overlooked could have been one of your most powerful tools.
I didn’t take a close look at Virgin Atlantic’s loyalty program for a long time because I didn’t immediately see it playing into my free travel strategy. But Virgin Atlantic offers something enticing — something you rarely see with other airline programs nowadays: Partner award charts.
Virgin Atlantic’s partner award charts have remained largely unchanged for years, and Virgin Points currently stand out for offering incredible value with many uses.
Let’s go over the basics of Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and show you the sweet spots that make Virgin Points so valuable.
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How to earn Virgin Points
There are four primary ways of earning Virgin Points directly. Let’s take a closer look.
You can certainly still earn points the old-fashioned way: flying.
If you’re flying on Virgin Atlantic, you can use the airline’s earning calculator to figure out how many Virgin Points you’ll earn for your flight. If you’re flying one of its partners, such as Delta, Air France or Hawaiian Airlines, you can opt to earn Virgin Points instead of whichever currency is normally awarded by the airline you’re flying.
You can check your operating carrier and fare class on WhereToCredit for the best option for your flight.
Credit card rewards
The only direct way to earn Virgin Points by credit card is through the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®. Currently, you can earn up to 50,000 bonus points within the first year:
- 30,000 bonus points for spending at least $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
- 2,500 bonus points for adding an authorized user (5,000 bonus points max).
- 7,500 bonus points each anniversary after you spend at least $15,000 during your anniversary year.
- 7,500 additional bonus points after you spend at least $25,000 during your anniversary year.
The information for the Virgin Atlantic card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
50,000 Virgin Points isn’t a pittance by any means. But there are many other indirect ways to earn this valuable currency from credit cards that are much more effective than the Virgin Atlantic credit card. For example, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Capital One miles at a 1:1 ratio.
If you’re looking for a new card, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which currently offers 80,000 bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
You can also transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to Virgin Atlantic at a 3:1 ratio, with a 5,000-mile bonus for transferring at least 60,000 points. In other words, 60,000 Marriott points equal 25,000 Virgin Points.
Between these six programs, it’s not difficult to compile a large balance of Virgin Points that will enable you to book amazing sweet spots (which we’ll cover in a bit). However, if you’re still shy of a great award, you could consider topping off your account with transfers from World of Hyatt (5:3 transfer ratio) or IHG Rewards (5:1 transfer ratio).
Related: The best airline credit cards
If you’ve flown a Virgin Atlantic-operated flight — whether you paid cash or points for it — you can use Flying Club’s Points Booster to score extra points for cheap. You usually have the option of paying 0.010 British pounds (or $0.013) per point, but Flying Club also periodically runs bonus promotions. For example, in late April 2022, we saw an offer for up to 40% bonus points.
Other earning partners
There are also several partners through which you can earn Virgin Points through shopping or traveling:
- Car rental partners: Virgin Atlantic partners with Avis, Alamo, Enterprise, Hertz, National and Sixt to let members earn Virgin Points.
- Heathrow Rewards: You can earn points for shopping or parking at Heathrow airport and then transfer them to Flying Club.
- Rocketmiles: You can earn between 500 and 10,000 Virgin Points per night for booking hotels through Rocketmiles.
- Shops Away: Earn Virgin Points by making purchases at over 1,000 retailers through Virgin Atlantic’s shopping portal.
- Virgin Group: From Virgin Hotels to luxury Virgin properties, you can earn Virgin Points through several Virgin Group partners.
Virgin Atlantic award chart
Many newbies to award travel may assume that the best use of an airline’s miles is for award flights on that airline’s own flights. That’s rarely the case — and Virgin Atlantic isn’t an exception.
The award prices Virgin Atlantic charges seem reasonable. Here are the round-trip prices you can expect during the standard season.
2022-2023 off-peak dates are as follows. If you want to stretch your points, book travel during these times.
|Standard season dates||Caribbean standard season dates|
|April 26-May 29.||April 17-May 29.|
|June 6-17.||June 6-July 15.|
|Sept. 5-Oct. 20.||Sept. 5-Oct. 20.|
|Nov. 2-Dec. 9.||Nov. 2-Dec. 9.|
|Jan. 5-March 23.||March 6-29.|
|April 18-June 17.||April 19-May 28.|
Round-trip prices escalate a bit during the peak season.
The value you may save by spending relatively few points (20,000 points round-trip between the East Coast and the U.K. are more than competitive) you will lose on the outrageous fuel surcharges Virgin Atlantic tacks onto award flights. Round-trip surcharges between the U.S. and the U.K. usually add at least $450 for economy flights — and Upper Class flights (Virgin Atlantic’s term for business class seats) could have well over $1,500 in fees for a round-trip ticket.
There are plenty of occasions where you may find paid tickets cost less than these fuel surcharges — meaning your points aren’t saving you a dime.
Booking one-way award flights instead of round-trips has often proven to reduce the taxes and fees on an award flight, potentially by hundreds of dollars. You may also benefit from booking Virgin Atlantic flights to London but not from London. Fees tend to be higher for flights leaving London, so if you’ve got another award currency you can use for your return flight, go with that.
Flying Club airline partners
The real magic of Virgin Points lies in partner award charts.
Virgin Atlantic isn’t a member of any airline alliance — but there are currently eight different airlines you can book award flights on using Virgin Points:
- Air France (SkyTeam).
- Air New Zealand (Star Alliance).
- ANA (Star Alliance).
- Delta (SkyTeam).
- Hawaiian Airlines.
- KLM (SkyTeam).
- Singapore Airlines (Star Alliance).
- South African Airways (Star Alliance).
- Virgin Australia.
You can also earn Virgin Points — but not redeem them — with partner SAS.
Each partner has a different award chart. Some are distance-based and others are zone-based, so there can be different terms and conditions from airline to airline. For partners other than Air France, Delta and KLM, you have to call Virgin Atlantic at 800-365-9500 to book award tickets. Some Delta routes won’t show on the Virgin Atlantic website, so you may have to call to book those too.
You can still search for availability on other websites, however. For example, the United Airlines website is excellent for finding available seats on Star Alliance airlines. Once you find what you’re looking for, note the travel dates and flight numbers and then call Virgin Atlantic and feed that information to the customer service representative.
Best uses of Virgin Points
Not all of Virgin Atlantic’s partners are a good deal. Let’s take a look at the value each offers.
Air New Zealand
While Air New Zealand award availability is typically really hard to find, it’s worth considering Virgin Points in the rare cases when availability opens up. Flying Club’s award rate for business class awards from Los Angeles to the South Pacific is 45,000 points each way. Compared to what most airlines charge for the same service, that’s an incredible deal.
You can even fly to New Zealand from Hawaii in business class for the same 45,000-mile price tag each way.
Here’s the Virgin Atlantic award chart for flights on Air New Zealand. Prices are round-trip.
ANA (All Nippon Airways)
Virgin Atlantic’s incredible redemption rates for ANA-operated flights should always be considered if you’re looking to get between the U.S. and Japan. This route is one of the best sweet spots in all of award travel.
Take a look at Virgin Atlantic’s award chart for ANA flights. These prices are for round-trip travel — and open-jaw bookings are allowed, so you can check award availability on other routes if your preferred route isn’t available. It’s also worth noting that you can book one-way awards for half the cost of a round-trip ticket.
If you were to book a round-trip, first-class flight to Japan in one of ANA’s fancy suite seats, you’d spend just 120,000 points for a seat costing $20,000 or more. For everything you need to know about this sweet spot, check out this guide to maximizing Flying Club on ANA flights.
It’s also worth noting that award flights are especially cheap for infants under two years old who don’t need a seat of their own:
- Economy seats cost 2,000 points.
- Business-class seats cost 10,000 points.
- First-class seats cost 10,000 points.
Delta Air Lines
Virgin Atlantic has three separate award charts when flying Delta. They all depend entirely on where you’re going and only one is a particularly good deal.
The first award chart is for flights between the U.S. and U.K.
The second award chart is for flights between the U.S. and anywhere in Europe (in other words, not the U.K.). This is a great way to book Delta-operated flights using Virgin Points with no fuel surcharges across the Atlantic.
This is one of my favorite aspects of Virgin Atlantic’s Delta award chart. A similar long-haul, business-class flight in Delta One using Delta miles will cost 120,000 miles or more — but just 50,000 Virgin Points.
The only problem is finding award availability, which is often limited. But when you do find award flights, you’ll pay just $5.60 in taxes when leaving the U.S. and minimal taxes when departing Europe for the U.S.
The third award chart is for flights going anywhere else on Delta. This could mean domestic U.S. flights, routes to Asia or South America, etc. Virgin Atlantic will charge you based on the distance you fly, so it’s very predictable. You can use Great Circle Mapper to help you calculate how many points you’ll pay for a given route.
It’s always worth comparing Virgin Atlantic and Delta’s award pricing if you’re booking short-haul flights that are relatively inexpensive through Flying Club. On the other hand, long-haul flights can be absurdly expensive with this award chart.
That said, Delta SkyMiles often has cheap domestic award tickets, so if you have both currencies available to you, it’s worth comparing Delta and Virgin Atlantic pricing before you book.
Related: The best Delta credit cards of 2022
Less valuable Flying Club partners
Air France and KLM
Virgin Atlantic has pages and pages of award charts for both KLM and Air France. You can visit this page to see them all. It divides the world into 10 zones and calculates your award price based on your origin and destination zones. Here are some highlights from the U.S.:
- One-way economy flight to Europe from the West Coast for 15,000 points.
- One-way economy flight to the Middle East from the East Coast for 25,000 points.
- One-way business class flight to Europe from the East Coast for 48,500 points.
- One-way business class flights to Northern Africa from the East Coast for 66,500 points.
Just note that you’ll often incur fuel surcharges for your flights, but they’re not as high as Virgin Atlantic awards. In my experience, surcharges are just under $300 for a one-way business-class ticket from the U.S. to Europe.
These prices are all for standard season travel — not peak dates. Standard dates are as follows:
|Standard season travel dates|
|April 26-May 29.|
|Sept. 5-Oct. 29.|
|Nov. 2-Dec. 9.|
|April 18-June 17.|
If you’re flying within Europe, you won’t be subject to this zone pricing. Virgin Atlantic has an easy chart to follow.
You can use Virgin Points to fly Hawaiian Airlines between the U.S. mainland and Hawaii. Business-class awards cost 40,000 points each way between Hawaii and the West Coast or 65,000 points each way between Hawaii and the East Coast.
Those rates are pretty similar to the rates that Hawaiian Airlines and JetBlue charge for the same award flights on Hawaiian — so there’s little reason to book it with Virgin Points.
Although Flying Club is a partner of Singapore Airlines, you can only redeem for economy awards on flights to or from the U.S. The best deals are on Singapore’s fifth-freedom routes: New York City to Frankfurt for 25,000 points each way, San Francisco to Hong Kong for 30,000 points each way and Los Angeles to Tokyo for 30,000 points each way.
The Virgin Atlantic award chart for Virgin Australia flights is mostly distance-based — meaning that it could be a good value for short and expensive intra-Australia flights. Virgin Australia has discontinued long-haul service, including flights to and from the U.S.
This current award chart seems to indicate that you can now only book economy seats. However, it does price infant rewards at 2,000 points in economy and 10,000 points in business class. You may have to reach out to Virgin Atlantic when booking your flight to learn what the business-class price of your route will be.
Unique Virgin Points redemptions
If you find yourself with hundreds of thousands (or millions) of Virgin Points, you can trade them in for an extraordinary level of luxury — or altitude:
- Mont Rochelle: Stay at Sir Richard Branson’s Cape Town winery for three nights for between 120,000 and 200,000 points.
- Kasbah Tamadot: Spend three nights in Branson’s Atlas Mountain retreat in Morocco for between 240,000 and 280,000 points.
- The Lodge: Stay three nights in one bedroom of Branson’s nine-bedroom Swiss Alpine resort for 380,000 points.
- Mahali Mzuri: Spend three nights in a “luxury tent” at a Kenyan safari camp for 600,000 points or five nights for 950,000 points.
- Ulusaba Private Game Reserve: Use 600,000 points for a three-night stay for two people in a Safari Lodge room or 950,000 points for a five-night stay for two people in a Safari Lodge room.
Or, you can enter a raffle for a chance to fly in space on Virgin Galactic for a cool 2,000,000 points — but all of those points must have been earned from Virgin Atlantic flights.
How to redeem Virgin Points
Now that you know why you should care about Virgin Points, let’s show you how to redeem them for award flights. You can easily search for seats and on Virgin Atlantic’s homepage. Just click “Advanced Search” and then select the “Points” option.
It’s also wise to tick the “Show flexible dates” box, in case the date you entered has no availability.
After you search, you’ll see availability one week at a time. You can see a full calendar month by clicking “Price Calendar” at the top of the page.
This process may seem incredibly easy, but that’s not always the case. When it comes to partner award searches with the engine, the Virgin Atlantic website can fall short. That’s because Virgin Atlantic only allows you to search award flights to/from airports that are loaded into its system — and many of its partners aren’t bookable online. Remember, you’ll have to call to book flights such as ANA, Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for, head to another website that does show availability for that airline. For example, the United Airlines site shows Singapore Airlines and ANA flights. Once you find what you’re after, copy the flight information and travel date and call Virgin Atlantic to book.
The small print
There are a few general terms and conditions for award flights booked with Virgin Points — including partner-operated flights — to keep in mind:
Award flight changes
Travelers can change their travel date, routing and/or class of service prior to travel for a service fee of just $50 (plus mileage difference, if applicable) for flights originating in the U.S.
Award ticket cancellation policy
You can cancel your ticket and receive all your points back for a cancellation fee of $50 for flights originating in the U.S. as long as you cancel at least 24 hours prior to departure. Once you’re within 24 hours, points become non-refundable.
Open-jaw and stopovers
Flying Club prices one-way awards at half of the award chart price for most partners. This includes ANA flights, which used to require round-trip bookings.
If you can’t find award availability both ways on the route you want, you can book an open-jaw award — which means you’re flying into or out of a different airport on your return leg. There’s no penalty for doing this, and the mileage prices out as half of the cost of a round-trip for each of the two legs booked.
As Flying Club charges for each flight segment separately, you can build in a stopover in a connecting city. However, it may not be worth the extra mileage cost to book an award with a connection or stopover.
Virgin Atlantic is intricate — and some of its luster has disappeared after devaluations and diminishing routes from its partners. But the program is still highly valuable for international travel, particularly for flying ANA and Delta in premium cabins when you can find availability. And because the program has so many transfer partners, its points are easy to earn.
Feature photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images.
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