It was always going to happen and that time is sadly now – Virgin Atlantic has updated its award chart which has resulted in a no-notice devaluation when redeeming Flying Club points to fly in ANA First Class.
Redeeming Virgin Atlantic points for ANA First Class was one of the sweetest of sweet spots. That’s because you could book flights to/from Japan for only 55,000 points each way from the west coast or 60,000 points each way from elsewhere in the US – a phenomenally low price.
This change has greatly increased the cost for First Class awards from the US to Japan. Rather than being 55,000 or 60,000 points one-way from the west coast or central/eastern US respectively, the new cost will be 72,500 miles one way from the west coast and 85,000 miles one way from central or eastern US. That’s an increase of 31.8% and 41.7% respectively which is a drastic increase.
There’s been a huge amount of ANA First Class award availability over the last couple of months, something we’re taking advantage of for our next challenge as we were able to book 5 seats in First Class on the same flight. I wouldn’t be surprised if this influx of award availability – and people using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points to book it – is what’s resulted in sudden devaluation, especially considering the fact that Economy and Business Class award redemptions have remained untouched.
The Not-Quite Silver Lining
While it’s disappointing that First Class redemptions have increased by such a large percentage, the 72,500 and 85,000 point redemption values are still very competitive for First Class awards to Asia. Check out Best ways to get to Asia using miles for business or first class for a list of your options, but there are only a couple of programs where you can redeem fewer miles/points for one-way First Class tickets. (n.b. We’ll be updating that post to reflect these Virgin Atlantic changes soon.)
Add in the fact that Virgin Atlantic is a transfer partner of every major transferable currency and the frequent transfer bonuses from those currencies and you’ll likely find that booking ANA First Class (when you can find availability) with Virgin Atlantic points will still represent a great redemption option even if it’s nowhere near as great as it had been up until now.