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London-based Virgin Atlantic, known for its cheeky yet fun branding in air travel, operates the Flying Club loyalty program for its best passengers. Delta Air Lines holds a 49 percent stake in the airline, while Air France-KLM owns 31 percent.
That partnership means that travelers have more options when it comes to earning and redeeming miles under Flying Club. With Delta, Virgin Atlantic flies to more than 200 destinations. With Air France-KLM, it adds up to more than 300 daily nonstop trans-Atlantic flights.
Flying Club members can earn and spend miles on airline partners SAS, Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia, South African Airways, ANA, Air China and Hawaiian Airlines. Virgin Atlantic doesn’t belong to a global airline alliance, nor is its list of partner carriers as robust as competitors, but it’s still enough to get Flying Club members to many cities around the world.
We show you everything you need to know about the best ways to use your Flying Club miles.
In this article
- What airlines can you book?
- Credit cards that earn miles
- Where to search for award space
- How much do awards cost?
- Partner award charts
- How to buy a Miles Plus Money fare
- Award change and booking fees
- When are award seats made available?
- What are the best award values?
- Upgrades and how much they cost
- Other ways to earn and redeem miles
- Hotel points that transfer to Flying Club miles
- Can you book awards for others?
- Can you transfer miles to someone else?
- When do Flying Club miles expire?
- The bottom line
What airlines can you book?
While Virgin Atlantic is not a member of an alliance, the Flying Club program has several earning and redemption partners:
|Airline||Where to search award space|
|Air China||Call Virgin Atlantic at 800-365-9500|
|Air New Zealand||Call Virgin Atlantic at 800-365-9500|
|All Nippon Airways (ANA)||Call Virgin Atlantic at 800-365-9500|
|Delta Air Lines||Delta.com|
|Hawaiian Airlines||Call Virgin Atlantic at 800-365-9500|
|Singapore Airlines||Call Virgin Atlantic at 800-365-9500|
|South African Airways||Call Virgin Atlantic at 800-365-9500|
|Virgin Australia||Call Virgin Atlantic at 800-365-9500|
Note: Bookings must be made at least 48 hours before departure. Miles must be redeemed from one account.
Credit cards that earn miles
The Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® allows new cardmembers to 60,000 Flying Club bonus miles after spending $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. Then earn Earn 3 miles per $1 spent directly on Virgin Atlantic purchases and 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all other purchases with no limit to the number of miles you can earn. The card has a $90 annual fee and has a foreign transaction fee of None.
Flying Club is an airline partner with American Express Membership Rewards®, Chase Ultimate Rewards®, and Citi ThankYou® Rewards. Each allows members to convert their points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles at a 1:1 ratio.
Where to search for award space
Award space for Virgin Atlantic flights can be searched online. Partner award space can be searched online via the partner airline’s website itself or alliance partners. Partner awards must be booked by telephone. The U.S. Flying Club phone number is 800-365-9500.
How much do awards cost?
Awards booked on Virgin Atlantic flights are based on round-trips to and from the UK. See the charts below for standard and peak awards:
Note: Taxes, fees and carrier-imposed surcharges apply to all reward flights. All miles shown in this table are per round-trip; one way is half the miles.
To calculate the cost of an itinerary connecting in the UK, such as a New York-London-Johannesburg round trip in economy, simply add the round-trip cost of New York-London (20,000 miles) and London-Johannesburg (25,000 miles) together for the total cost of 45,000 miles.
Virgin Atlantic allows Flying Club members to use their miles at a discount, based on departure city, to bring along a travel companion when buying a full adult ticket; it does not include Economy Light and Economy Delight fares. The tables below show how many miles are needed for a round-trip companion seat for Virgin Atlantic’s U.S. destinations in each cabin class. For peak-season companion seats, you’ll need to add another 10,000 Flying Club miles per round-trip, plus fees and surcharges, on top of the miles listed below.
Partner award charts
The most useful partners to book with Virgin miles are Delta and ANA. Below is the award chart for ANA.
Since Delta no longer has award charts, so you must go to Delta.com to check the miles needed for award travel. But below is an example of availability on Delta for a flight from New York City to London:
Use your miles on Delta flight, marked below, for 44,000 in the main cabin. For 2,000 more miles than the codeshare Virgin Atlantic main cabin seat, which is 70,000 miles, you can book Comfort+® on Delta.
Other partner award charts
Click on ‘spend miles’ when you reach the website for each of the partners below to see their award chart.
- Air China
- Air New Zealand
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- South African Airways
- Virgin Australia
How to buy a Miles Plus Money fare
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club allows members to book tickets with cash and points. Log into your Flying Club account and be sure to choose ‘Pay with miles plus money’ when booking a flight.
Your search will show whether the fare is eligible for Miles Plus Money. You can then decide how many miles you want to put towards the flight (in multiples of 3,000) in a dropdown menu on your ‘flight summary.’ The more miles you use, the bigger the discount taken from the price of your flight.
A “Miles Plus Money” ticket offers a fixed discount: 3,000 miles earns $45 off of a round-trip economy fare.
Award change and booking fees
Changes of date, route, or class of service to an existing award ticket can be made for $50. Cancellations made outside 24 hours prior to departure cost $50, and all miles, fees, and surcharges will be refunded. Within 24 hours, no miles will be refunded, and $50 will be charged to refund taxes, fees, and surcharges.
When are award seats made available?
Awards on Virgin are available through April 11, 2020, at press time.
What are the best award values?
For a U.S.-based flyer, redemptions need to be considered carefully due to the large surcharges for reward travel. Below, we show the points and cash needed for a one-way flight from New York to London.
When doing the math, there’s only a $2.50 difference between the Economy Light fare and reward travel with fees. The big value comes in with Upper Class since you pay $1,541.23 in fees with reward travel, versus the full fare of $4,873.73.
However, you’ll find better value from some of Virgin Atlantic’s airline partners. See the miles or cash needed on a Delta New York-London one-way flight, operated by Virgin:
If redeeming miles, the value is far better on the Delta-coded, Virgin-operated flight, since you’re only paying $5.60 in taxes and fees, no matter which cabin you choose.
Another option is to use your miles on a New York-London flight booked on the Air France-KLM Flying Blue website:
Note that the miles flight is operated by Delta, while the cash flight is operated by Virgin America.
Upgrades and how much they cost
Virgin Atlantic allows Flying Club members to upgrade eligible tickets with miles — but only on its own flights. Both single- and double-class upgrades are allowed. The chart below shows the miles needed for upgrades on round-trip Virgin Atlantic flights:
If you plan to travel during peak season, it will cost you another 10,000 miles on top of those shown above for an upgrade to premium. An upgrade from Economy Classic or Delight to Upper Class will run you another 15,000 miles. Upgrades are not available on Economy Light flights. Taxes, fees and carrier-imposed surcharges starting at $273 will apply to all upgrades.
Other ways to earn and redeem miles
Like other airlines, Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club gives members plenty of ways to earn and redeem their miles outside of flights and upgrades. On the earning side, Virgin Atlantic’s featured partners are Delta Air Lines, Apple, Macy’s, hotel booking site Rocketmiles and online portal Shops Away, home to more than 1,000 retailers.
Also earn miles from hotel brands, car rentals, financial partners, Virgin Group partners, airport lounges and the Eurostar train. Flying Club members can buy miles to top off their accounts for $27 per 1,000 miles, along with a $25 transaction fee. Buy them in increments of 1,000, with the opportunity to purchase up to 100,000 miles in a calendar year.
Redeem Flying Club miles on Virgin Atlantic’s spending partners, along with booking a limousine to your flight or spa treatments in the Upper Class Clubhouse airport lounge.
Hotel points that transfer to Flying Club miles
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members have plenty of options to transfer hotel loyalty program points into miles:
- Hilton Honors: 10,000 points for 1,500 miles.
- World of Hyatt: 5,000 points for 3,000 miles.
- IHG® Rewards Club: 10,000 points for 2,000 miles.
- Marriott Bonvoy™: 3 points for 1 mile, plus a 5,000 mile bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer.
Can you book awards for others?
Flying Club members may book awards for others.
Can you transfer miles to someone else?
Miles can be transferred at a cost of $13.50 per 1,000 miles.
When do Flying Club miles expire?
Miles expire after 36 months unless there is account activity (earning or redeeming).
The bottom line
For a major carrier that doesn’t belong to an airline alliance, Virgin Atlantic has some robust redemption options when it comes to award travel. Between its strong links with Delta, Air France and KLM, along with its eight other airline partners, Flying Club members can redeem their miles to cities around the world.
Unlike other carriers, Virgin Atlantic offers Flying Club members the chance to use their miles to bring along a travel companion at a discount. It does offer peak and off-peak reward travel, so if your travel plans are flexible, you can get some good deals. But remember to check flights in cash and miles, since you could end up paying more in taxes and carrier-imposed surcharges on reward tickets than actual fares.