Virgin Flying Club – what are the best partner awards?

Virgin Atlantic is not in a major airline alliance, despite Delta Air Lines – a core plank of the Skyteam alliance – being a 49% shareholder.

Despite that, the airline does have a number of airline partners with whom you can earn and redeem Flying Club miles.  These include :

Virgin Atlantic

  • Air China
  • Air New Zealand
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Jet Airways
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • SAS (earning only)
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • Virgin America
  • Virgin Australia

… plus of course Delta.

As there is no standard redemption table (unlike with, say, Avios) it is difficult to get your head around what is a good deal.  A couple of years ago, US blog View from the Wing recently published this piece on making the best use of Virgin Flying Club partner redemptions which is the most detailed discussion I have seen.

From the UK, the best options appear to be:

First Class, Air China, London to Beijing for 75,000 miles return (or Business Class for 63,000 miles)

Business Class, Air New Zealand, London to Los Angeles for 75,000 miles return

In reality, you can pretty much forget the Air New Zealand option.  It makes very little award space available from London for Star Alliance members, let alone partners.

There is a  Flyertalk ‘sticky’ thread dedicated to the problems of booking partner redemptions on Virgin.  Apart from Delta redemptions – which weirdly still require a return flight to be booked – Air China does seem to be your best bet in terms of actually getting a seat.

Virgin appears to be able to access the same availability as Air China shows to its Star Alliance partners, and the tax on a return First Class trip is around £500.  75,000 miles to fly First Class to China is a great deal.

If you are travelling to the USA, Virgin America is another option where you won’t have trouble finding seats.  The only issue is the requirement to book a return ticket.  Delta availability is also, obviously, not an issue (as long as Delta is making reward space available).

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

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Comments

  1. I’ve been searching for redemptions to the east for a while.

    Air china is no longer available for redemptions. This has been confirmed by 3 separate agents and mentioned in the flyertalk thread.

    Air New Zealand is virtually impossible – again the agents all agreed that I should forget that option.

    Singapore DO allow you to book business on the 777-300ER these days (only the A380 is excluded now, the website is out dated) BUT again it is very very difficult to get seats. An agent patiently went through more than a dozen dates with availability according to the ANA and SQ websites, but found nothing.

    It was no problem to get seats on Virgin Australia for what it is worth, but you are only permitted to book economy on domestic only flights.

    Basically the utility of VS miles outside of flights on Virgin companies or Delta is very limited indeed.

    • Oh also, I didn’t try ANA or Malaysia, that would be something to check.

    • That’s not actually what the flyertalk thread says about Air China redemptions. If you look more closely, there was a problem for a while last year. But more recent postings on the thread say this has been fixed, and report recent examples of successfully VS miles on Air China.

      • All my data is from the last month, the most recent 2 weeks ago. The agents all said there is a note on the system telling them not to book air china redemptions.

  2. Roger Hardplease says:

    You don’t need to book a return flight on Virgin America, but they do charge the same for a one way flight as for a return.

    • Lady London says:

      I was quoted 25000 for a 1 hour flight within the USA on Virgin America.

      I preferred to pay $65 cash.

  3. I tried to book some Virgin Australia redemptions, but they had some weird rules in place regarding not being able to book business class domestic redemptions, plus I could also not booking a connecting flight. So pretty useless all in all.

  4. From what I’ve read, Air NZ availability has actually opened up a bit recently, perhaps due to competition from others (such as AA) opening routes to NZ. I flew LHR-LAX on a bmi redemption years ago, very nice service.

  5. OT but my Virgin Black is up for renewal which i don’t want to do once i’ve received my PE upgrade voucher. I’ve checked my emails and I was accepted on 17/03/2015 and I received a welcome to your account email on 01/04/15 so when is my renewal date likely to be? Thanks.

    • For safety do not use your card after 17 March. Voucher will arrive late April. You can then cancel without paying the fee as long as NO new transactions went through.

      • Thanks Rob. Will they not charge the fee before the voucher arrives though? Or will i need to pay it then get a refund?

        • You wouldn’t have paid the bill for the first month by then, so I can think you can get it knocked off. Hopefully someone who has done this can chip in.

          • I have done this several times between the Mrs and I. As Rob says, stop using the card at least 1 month before the renewal date and pay off the balance so you have a £0 balance.

            The PE vouchers will post to your Virgin Atlantic account 2-3 weeks after the renewal date – but the renewal fee isn’t posted until the statement is created so you have a 1-2 week window of opportunity to cancel the account at no charge.

          • Thanks guys.

  6. Reddragon says:

    Gulf Air are no longer VA partners this from the website
    ‘ The partnership between Virgin Atlantic and Gulf Air will terminate on the 1st October 2015. Therefore, we are unable to accept any new reward bookings for travel on Gulf Air as of the 14th July 2015. Any bookings made and ticketed on Gulf Air prior to this date, for travel later in the year will be honoured.’

    Members will be able to earn their miles when travelling on Gulf Air up until the 30 September 2015.

    • Thanks, amended the article. I saw the logo was still on the website so I assumed all was still OK.

      • Sadly not, I called last night to book and they told me their partnership ended. No announcement however. I would have made several bookings before they remove them.

        Gulf Air was an awesome redemption for Muslims going to Saudi. Shame the window is closed.

        • Oh! Matron! says:

          I flew Gulf, LHR – SIN a few years ago. Very pleasant experience. Coming back, I was told that they were full, so stuck me in a direct flight with Qantus in business. Preferred Gulf!

        • what about non-muslims!?

  7. I have no use for Virgin miles for flights (they don’t fly to anywhere I want to go) but I swap any that I get for hotel miles.
    IHG points are 1:1 and they count towards IHG status.
    Hilton points are 3:2.
    You need to ring up the contact centre for both.

  8. Sometime in the later part of last year in one of the comment threads someone mentioned about MBNA Virgin Atlantic rewards being overhauled in 2016. Does anyone know anything about this or when it might happen?

    I’m hoping for a relaxation on the companion flight voucher or even earing tier points on the CC spend like it does in the US.

    • Not heard anything about this and I was talking to the woman who runs the Virgin card programme a couple of weeks ago.

      • That’s a shame. I’m a real fan of Virgin but the rewards and earning in the UK and so much poorer than they offer in the US and that’s before the interchange rate cap. It’s going to get worse over time.

        • Last summer I flew from San Francisco to Newark (nearly 5 hour flight) for something like 12,000 miles and $5 tax with Virgin America.

  9. Has anyone had the bonus points for miles booster/buying miles post yet?

  10. Use them to stay at Ulusaba in South Africa really is an amazing way to use points!

    • Have you been? Was considering a paid stay there next year. Just a bit worried about the malaria risk in April as my daughter can’t take tablets.

  11. A bit off-topic, but just been notified of this website – http://www.airlineratings.com/index.php

    Has airline safety ratings and other info too, worth a browse if you’re browsing HfP too.

  12. FlyingMad says:

    Air China cannot be sold at present due to a “disagreement”. All the other carriers have limited availability and now they have finally decided to release availability for flying club members to redeem rewards when they book in a lower qualifying cabin; as far down as X.