Best uses for Virgin Atlantic points (Sweet Spot Spotlight)

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Virgin Atlantic points are super easy to get.  For example, you can sign up for the Virgin Atlantic credit card (which often has a 65K welcome bonus) and then average more than 2 cents per dollar on spend with that card.  Also, points transfer 1 to 1 from most major transferable points programs.  Even better, transfer bonuses are common such that transfers to Virgin Atlantic are often better than 1 to 1.  With all of those points easily accessible, the question is what to do with them…

Thanks to Chase offering a transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic through 6/15/22, I figured that this was a good time to update this post.  Since this was last published, I added a few sweet spots, and marked two as expired.

Transfer Partners & Transfer Bonuses

Virgin Atlantic points can be transferred from most common transferable points programs:

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Brex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (1 to 2 days)1 to 1 (Unknown)1 to 1 (Unknown)

Even better, transfer bonuses are common.  The following display shows current transfer bonuses, if any:

Transfer FromTransfer Bonus DetailsEnd Date Sortable

And, here are the expired bonuses (may be useful for predicting when to expect a new bonus):

North America, Europe, or Australia to Japan (ANA First Class)

ANA 777-300ER First Class The Suite. Image courtesy of ANA’s website.

Virgin Atlantic points can be used to fly ANA (All Nippon Airways).  The following chart shows round-trip award pricing using Virgin Atlantic points:

One awesome recent development is that you can now book one-way awards for half the price shown above.  Virgin Atlantic’s ANA partner page states: “One-way trips are permitted at half of the round-trip mileage shown below.”

The sweet spots on the above chart are in the bottom two rows and far-right column.  Fly long-haul ANA first class round-trip between Japan and either Australia, Canada, or Western USA for only 110,000 points (or 55K one-way).  Or, fly long-haul ANA first class round-trip between Japan and either Europe, Central USA, or Eastern USA for only 120,000 points (or 60K one-way).

Some of these round-trip flights (such as between JFK and Tokyo, as shown above) often sell for over $20,000 but can be had for 120,000 points or less!  Compared to the cash price you can easily get 16.67 cents per point value!

How to book: Call Virgin Atlantic.

US to New Zealand (Air New Zealand Business Class)

Virgin Atlantic charges only 125K round-trip or 62,500 points one-way for Air New Zealand business class non-stop flights between New Zealand and North or South America.  Unfortunately finding award availability is notoriously difficult.

How to book: Call Virgin Atlantic.

US to Europe (Delta One Business Class)

Use Virgin Atlantic miles to book Delta One business class from the United States to Europe for only 50,000 points one way.  This is for all routes other than to/from the UK.  Unfortunately, flights to/from the UK include extremely high award fees.

The trick to optimizing this award is to begin your journey in the United States.  If you book a one-way flight from the US to Europe you’ll pay only $5.60 in fees:

With a round-trip flight originating in the US, you’ll pay a reasonable amount in fees (fees will vary depending upon the European airport you return from).

If you book your flight departing from Europe, though, fees will be far higher:

FlightConnections shows that Delta flies from the US to these European airports:

If you want to go to airports other than those shown above, you can do that too.  Book a mixed partner award where you fly Delta across the Atlantic to either Paris or Amsterdam and then fly onward on Air France or KLM to wherever you really want to go.  Full details can be found here: New sweet spot — Virgin Atlantic mixed-partner award to Europe

How to book: book online (details here)

North America to Europe (Air France or KLM Business Class)

KLM 787 business class

Use Virgin Atlantic points to book Air France or KLM Business Class from North America for as few as 58,500 points one way (plus fees).  The 58.5K pricing is between Western & Central Europe (Zone 1) and Eastern North America (Zone 6).  Here is how Virgin Atlantic defines those zones:

Zone 1 (Western and Central Europe) includes: UK, Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Denmark, Balearic Islands, Finland, Italy, Malta, Norway and Sweden.

Zone 6 (East Coast North America & Caribbean) includes:  East Coast USA, East Canada, Antigua, Barbados, Bahamas, Cuba, Bermuda, Dominican Republic, French Guyana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Caiman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Martinique, Haiti, Porto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago and Saint Marteen.

  • Includes the following US states – Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C., West Virginia, Virginia, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida
  • Includes the following Canadian provinces – Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island

How to book: book online (details here)

North America to Europe (Air France Premium Economy)

Use Virgin Atlantic points to book Air France Premium Economy from North America to France for as few as 24,000 points one way (plus fees, as shown below).  The best pricing is from “East Coast North America & Caribbean,” but that includes states as far west as Wisconsin, Illinois, Tennessee, and Mississippi.

Here are the award prices and fees for Premium Economy to/from Europe:

  • East Coast North America & Caribbean
    • Point Price: 24K Standard / 34K Peak
    • Fees to Europe: ~$160
    • Fees from Europe: ~$240
  • West & Central North America & Central America
    • Point Price: 39K Standard / 49K Peak
    • Fees to Europe: ~$160
    • Fees from Europe: ~$240

FlightConnections shows that Air France flies from these East Coast North American airports:

How to book: book online (details here)

US to London (Economy Class)

Whether you want to fly Delta or Virgin Atlantic, you can use Virgin Atlantic points to fly cheaply from the East Coast to London.  Virgin Atlantic offers the same pricing whether flying Delta or Virgin Atlantic (but fees are higher when flying Delta) when flying towards the UK.  Flying from the US to London for 10K to 15K during standard season is a bargain even after accounting for award fees.  Here are the award prices:

  • East Coast US (Boston, Newark, New York JFK, Washington DC): 10K standard, 20K peak
  • Midwest & South US (Atlanta, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis, Orlando): 12.5K standard, 22.5K peak
  • West Coast US (Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Seattle): 15K standard, 25K peak

As shown in the images below, when flying from the US to London, you can expect to pay about $150 in fees when flying Virgin Atlantic or ~$225 when flying Delta:

In the opposite direction I saw the opposite: approximately $185 in fees flying Delta vs. $265 flying Virgin Atlantic.  Unfortunately, Virgin Atlantic charges more for flying Delta in this direction (15K instead of 10K).

How to book: book online (details here for booking Delta flights)

Hong Kong to London (Virgin Atlantic)

Flights from Hong Kong do not include fuel surcharges.  As a result, Virgin Atlantic flights from Hong Kong to London are really cheap.  Here are the one-way prices:

  • Economy: 12.5K standard or 22.5K peak + ~$42 in fees
  • Premium Economy: 22.5K standard or 32.5K peak + ~$42 in fees
  • Business: 57.5K standard or 67.5K peak + ~$45 in fees

How to book: book online at Virgin Atlantic.

Flights within Europe (Air France / KLM)

This graphic shows airports within 599 miles of Amsterdam (for KLM flights) and Paris (for Air France flights).

Virgin Atlantic has great rates for nonstop flights within Europe on Air France or KLM.  They charge between 4K and 8.5K for nonstop economy flights under 1250 miles in distance (which is most within Europe), and between 8K and 9K for business class flights under 600 miles in distance.

Virgin Atlantic offers the following award chart for short distance flights on Air France or KLM:

As you can see above, for Air France or KLM flights under 600 miles, Virgin Atlantic charges only 4K points (off-peak) or 4.5K points (peak) for economy, or 8K or 9K points for business class.  That’s awesome.

More details can be found here: Air France & KLM across Europe for less.

How to book: book online (details here)

Nonstop Flights (Delta Economy)

Virgin Atlantic offers a distance based award chart for Delta flights (except those between the US and Europe).  This means that short, non-stop Delta flights can be booked cheaply.

As you can see above, one-way flights start at only 7,500 points one-way.  On some routes, this can be a huge bargain compared to booking with Delta miles.  Usually the best deals are found on the shortest flights, but even long flights can be much cheaper when booked with Virgin Atlantic miles.  For example, for Delta’s crazy-long flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg South Africa, Delta wants a minimum of 60,000 points one-way:

If the same flight was available to partners, Virgin Atlantic would charge only 45,000 points for for the same economy ticket.

How to book: book online (details here)

US West Coast to Hawaii (Delta Economy)

This is just a specific example of decent deals for non-stop Delta flights.  Delta’s flights between the U.S. west coast and Hawaii are less than 3,000 miles and so they price out at only 15,000 points one-way.

How to book: book online (details here)

[Expired] Necker Island Celebration Week

In 2016 I redeemed Virgin Atlantic points for an all-inclusive week for 2 on Sir Richard Branson’s private island (Necker Island). See this post for more.

Sadly, Necker Island Destination Weeks are no longer bookable with Virgin Atlantic miles.  However, I’ve kept the description of the award here in case they ever decide to bring back this option…

This is the ultimate splurge.  Sir Richard Branson (founder of Virgin businesses) lives and works on his private island named Necker Island.  Each year he designated around 8 weeks as “Celebration Weeks”.  During Celebration Weeks, guests can book the all-inclusive week for 2 adults starting at $35,000 (details here).  Alternatively, those with lots of Virgin Atlantic points can book the same week for 1.5 million points.  While that’s a crazy number of points, it amounts to an excellent 2.33 cents per point value compared to the cash rate.  Note that you have to have Virgin Atlantic Silver or Gold status to book this award.  That said, it’s fairly easy to get that status through credit card spend alone.

How to book: Call Virgin Limited Edition at +44 (0) 208 600 0430, or contact via email: enquiries@virginlimitededition.com

[Expired] US to South Africa (South African Airways)

Marriott Protea Hotel Kruger Gate Marriott Rewards sweet spot

Note: At the time of this writing, South African Airways is no longer flying between the US and Africa.  If/when that changes, I’ll remove this deal from the “expired” list.

Virgin Atlantic charges only 150K round-trip or 75K points one-way for South African Airways business class non-stop flights between South Africa and the US.  Note that award space is notoriously difficult to find.

What about Dakar Senegal? The sweetest sweet-spot on Virgin Atlantic’s partner award charts is arguably the ability to fly South African Airways between the US and Senegal for only 25K one-way in business class.  Unfortunately, South African Airways has stopped flying that route, so that sweet-spot no longer applies.

How to book: Call Virgin Atlantic.

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rich

ANA first class is a unicorn heard about it but never seen available to book.

Bob

Should clarify that ANA only has The Suite from JFK-HND, other US routes have the older first class.

Moss

Not true, ANA the Suite has been consistently available NRT/HND to LAX from January to April.

Paul

Is there any way to check Air New Zealand availability besides calling Virgin?

Nick

Very helpful article! I’m sitting on a lot of VS points that I plan to use over time for ANA first from West coast to Japan (which btw, they just started using their updated cabins for I learned on a flight in late March). But I’ll have to try out a few of these options.

FYI, I think this language is mixed up for the mileage:

Virgin Atlantic has great rates for nonstop flights within Europe on Air France or KLM. They charge between 4K and 8.5K for nonstop economy flights under 1250 miles in distance (which is most within Europe), and between 8K and 9K for business class flights under 600 miles in distance.”

khatl

Think it would be good to highlight if/where there are better options to redeem on the same flights. For example, while Virgin to Europe on AF/KLM or within Europe on the same airlines could be a sweet spot for redeeming Virgin points, redeeming on AF/KLM directly is often an even sweeter spot. Biz on AF/KLM to anywhere in Europe is regularly as low as 55k one way from the US east coast

M S

Can Virgin points be used for Delta from US to S. America? Thanks.

Frank

SAA isn’t flying to South Africa, and likely will never again.

Jana

We booked SEA-AMS with Virgin miles (last year) on Delta One for March , but now can’t get in, so are trying to reschedule for later this year. I seriously can NOT find even one seat any week from now through October (even using Expert Flyer). Is there any trick to finding space since they made their change?

Mike

Hey Jana, I had almost the exact same trip booked last year and had to rebook. I spent weeks looking and I was able to find SEA-AMS on Delta One Suites in late April but couldn’t find anything on the return. I have to fly Virgin on the return and pay the exorbitant fuel charges otherwise the trip wasn’t going to happen.

Mark

Anyone finding Delta One awards space to Europe? I’m glad that VA affirmed this sweet spot, but it would be sweeter if it actually existed.

Jana

I can’t find jack (trying to reschedule a flight).

Joachim

Haven’t seen anything BOS-CDG in quite some time

James

Delta West Coast to Hawaii nonstops are 15k now. While that’s more points than Turkish (United), BA (AA/Alaska) and potentially Southwest, it’s still a decent deal.

AG

SLC-HNL also works at just under 3,000 miles 🙂

Ron

I remember reading somewhere that first class ANA flights can now be booked as.one way for half if the stated roundtrip price. Is this correct?

Takhliq Khan

Greg,

The fee listed for Air France is incorrect. Economy on Air France from US to Paris will cost you $160 in fee while Business will be $295.