Where can you fly these days with Virgin Flying Club miles?

The coverage of Virgin Flying Club on Head for Points has increased considerably since the site started almost five years ago.  This has been driven by a few factors:

generous credit card sign-up bonuses that let you get started quickly,

regular, albeit modest, Tesco Clubcard and – until recently – American Express Membership Rewards transfer bonuses (and the disappearance of Avios transfer bonuses),

the Avios devaluation of 2015 which went further than the 2017 Virgin changes and, to be honest …

my own greater understanding of the scheme.

Virgin Atlantic has emerged from a major period of flux.  What we have seen since US airline Delta acquired a 49% stake is a refocusing on routes to North America.  Routes to points east of the UK have been aggressively pruned.  Little Red, the UK domestic airline, was also closed.

I thought it was worth doing a summary on where you can fly these days using Virgin Atlantic miles.  This is especially pertinent as you can still – under 3rd April – get higher bonuses on the Virgin credit cards.  As you can read here, the free card currently comes with a 10,000 mile bonus and the £140 card comes with a 25,000 mile bonus.  Virgin is also happy for you to have both cards.

Virgin 787

Here are the current Virgin Atlantic long-haul routes from London (the Manchester list was updated 9am Tue based on comments below):

USA:  Atlanta (Heathrow), Boston (Heathrow), Detroit (Heathrow), Las Vegas (Gatwick), Los Angeles (Heathrow), Miami (Heathrow), New York (Heathrow), Orlando (Gatwick), San Francisco (Heathrow), Seattle (Heathrow), Washington (Heathrow)

Caribbean and Mexico:  Antigua (Gatwick), Barbados (Heathrow and Gatwick), Cancun (Gatwick), Grenada (Gatwick), Havana (Gatwick), Montego Bay (Gatwick), St Lucia (Gatwick), Tobago (Gatwick), Varadero – Cuba (Gatwick)

Africa and Middle East:  Dubai (Heathrow), Johannesburg (Heathrow), Lagos (Heathrow)

Asia:  Delhi (Heathrow), Hong Kong (Heathrow), Shanghai (Heathrow)

From Manchester, Virgin flies to New York, Boston, Atlanta, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Orlando and Barbados.  Some of these are seasonal.

From Glasgow, Virgin flies to Orlando (Summer only).

From Belfast, Virgin flies to Orlando (Summer only).

Missing from that list are numerous axed destinations – Sydney, Mumbai, Vancouver, Cape Town, Tokyo.  Go back further and you can add Accra, Athens, Mauritius, Nairobi, Nassau, Port Harcourt and Toronto.

Virgin also has a close partnership with Delta Air Lines, its 49% shareholder.  This adds Minneapolis, Portland, Salt Lake City and Philadelphia to the ex-Heathrow options.  Delta will fly Glasgow to New York in Summer 2017 to add to its existing Edinburgh service.

Redeeming on Virgin Atlantic partners

Virgin has a number of airline partners – ANA, Air New Zealand, Air China, Gulf Air, Hawaiian Airlines, Jet Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways and Virgin Australia.

Spending your miles on these partners is not easy.  I wrote a special article on the subject here.  There are three issues:

some partners only allow redemptions via Virgin on certain routes

you must redeem for a return flight

availability, in general, is NOT the same as that airline offers to its own frequent flyer members or alliance partners

Delta is treated as a partner for redemption purposes.  As I understand it, availability is not a problem – you have access to the same reward seats that Delta offers its own members – but you still must book a return flight.

These, then, are the current Virgin Atlantic options if you choose to diversify away from Avios in the coming months.

If you’re tempted to redeem on Virgin, this is my review of the Virgin Clubhouse lounge in Heathrow Terminal 3 and this is my review of Upper Class on a Boeing 787.

(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.)

Got Wyndham Rewards points? Amazing deals available at 3pm
Bits: new BA strike dates, Qatar relaxes baggage rules - will BA follow?
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.

Comments

  1. Gillian Adderley says:

    Some Air Alaska flights include a Delta leg. Are these redeemable with either Avios or Virgin miles?

  2. After the way BA is treating its passengers I am seriously considering looking at an alternative to Avios, I have AA Advantage with about 50,000 points plus the duo cards from MBNA.(business use only)
    I have the old Lloyds Duo Avios and the points awarded are rubbish using Mastercard last statement I spent over £300 pounds and I got a lousy 66 points, so I will close it.
    I don’t fly that often but would like to be able to upgrade when I go back to Sydney.
    I have a partner plus membership with a few points, should I ditch Avios in favour of Virgin?

  3. Hi Rob,
    About redeeming VS miles on DL. We dont get the same availability as DL Skymiles customers. DL skymiles customers have access to all seating in redemptions. The only stipulation is that on busier flights they have to pay more miles to redeem. For example Business Class :

    10 APR DUB – JFK Total = 350k skymiles
    17 APR. JFK – DUB. + €245.64 taxes

    09 APR. DUB – JFK. Total = 312k skymiles
    19.APR. JFK. – DUB +€245.64 taxes

    When I rang Virgin the only availability showing for redeeming VS miles on DL flights was :

    (Cant be bothered put ) Miles 140k slymiles
    ( put in same Itineary ). + €245.64

    So if you want to check VS availability online via DL website . Find the lowest mileage fare for your itinerary, that in theory should be avail for VS redemptions ( that is if it showing the lowest mileage fare. It could already be sold out. )

    Thanks

    Chad

    • p.s it will state “Lowest Fare” on the website. So it takes guess work out of equation

      Also I’m not very good with bonuses and maximising return on CC spend . If anyone wants too and I would also appreciate it lots. How could we maximise our return on credit card spend. At the moment all our spend is on VS MBNA black card as we mainly travel to most destination VS too. Our only criteria is redeeming in Business with main airlines. How would you restructure our spend. Listed below is spend on Visa ( 1 mile for £1 spent) Amex ( 2miles per £1 spent)

      Amex – 360k miles

      Visa. – 240k miles

      Thanks

      Chad

      • So you spent £240k on Visa and £180k on Amex in the past year? If so, I would certainly diversify somewhat and do a bit of churn (e.g. Amex Platinum churn his and hers is 92k MR = 92k Virgin if that’s your thing and with that kind of spend you’d be in and out in a flash for min fees)

        • Hi Gengis,
          That’s why I just stick to one card. It’s a nightmare keeping tabs on cards,limits, cancellations etc etc .
          But it would be nice to squeeze a few flights by being savvy.

          Chad

        • That’s the game though – there’s an element of no pain/no gain 😉 Quite easy to setup a spreadsheet to help keep track of things. With that amount of spending power you could fire through quite a few sign-up bonuses with ease!!

        • Genghis says:

          @Paul. Our annual spend is about an eighth of what yours is yet I probably earn the same amount of points – i.e. airmiles and hotel points combined. My only advice would be to diversify to some other cards (especially convertible currencies – MR and SPG and instead of flying on Virgin, you should be able to get on Singapore Suites class etc). Keeping a spreadsheet is essential to keep tabs on everything though.

  4. Can anyone confirm that transferring VS miles over to IHG is still counted as elite qualifying as erewards are not currently EQ?
    Someone has posted a statement made by an IHG rep that big changes are happening soon to ihg rewards accounts.

  5. Simon Schus says:

    Are there thoughts that the VS credit card offer will increase after April or simply revert to the old version?

  6. Simon Schus says:

    Also, I’ve previously never been able to book the Washington to London flight on Virgin miles. On the old website… the option for checking availability with miles was always greyed out for the route on the website, and I wasn’t able to book it, but all other routes had an option to search for availability. I had assumed it was something to do with anti-bribery laws for US public officials, and never really thought about it. However, it looks like I can now search for availability. I wonder whether or not it was just something to do with my browser in the past or it was actually blocked out from booking.

    • Charlie says:

      I experienced this too, but from memory I managed to get around it by not using “Washington”, I think I put in Dulles. This was a year ago so I can’t remember what I did exactly.

      I put it down to bad IT.

  7. To add to some comments on FT at the moment on the subject of elite earning status in IHG from transferring VS miles, comments on FT are stating they no longer earn EQ status however a rep of IHG has just started this:
    As long as your earning preference is in miles, miles earned from our partner airlines will count towards Elite status. Thank you for your patronage as an IHG Rewards Club member. – Tracy.
    Can anyone clarify if they have earnt EQ status from transferring VS miles to ihg in the last couple of weeks please?

    • Seem to be some IT issues. Some erewards have gone across as non qualifying too.

    • Natalia S says:

      I made Virgin to IHG transfer on 7 Feb – they were elite qualifying.

      • Tilly71 says:

        Thanks, I was looking for some real evidance. My erewards from Feb did not get posted as EQ and lots are having to battle it out at present with IHG CS.

        • I was going to transfer some more erewards to IHG for qualifying pts but think I will hold off – are you pursuing it with IHG – let us know how you get on.

        • Tilly71 says:

          Yes, pursuing with IHG CS, others have had a reply that they will reinstate points as EQ until erewards have communicated the new terms. This has not happened to anyone as far as I know but points from er are still added as non eq.
          Is it worth it to keep chasing CS everytime to reinstatell points?

      • Tilly71 says:

        There has been a potential change since 22nd feb for elite qualifying points via erewards, I’m trying to find anyone who has transferred vs to ihg since 22nd feb to see if eq.

        • Tilly I just did a transfer – the T&Cs on the erewards page still say they qualify for Elite status so I have taken a screen print just in case

        • Tilly71 says:

          Liz, I’m almost sure when it hits your account it will not be elite qualifying like mine and many others. You will need to contact CS to investigate.

        • This appears to be the situation. IHG has stopped eRewards points from being qualifying. However, as eRewards didn’t tell anyone – and their T&C’s still say they are – IHG is going to manually fix it and add back the EQ points. It does seem to be ‘game over’ for eRewards in the short term though.

        • Please could you explain to me what Elite status means? Is this in reference to Flying Club? Sorry I’m relatively new to all this, and have began to also collect miles via eRewards so am curious as to what this all means.

        • Genghis says:

          @K. IHG have a Rewards Club in which you can collect points and use on IHG hotels. You normally earn elite qualifying points through staying in IHG hotels and these are the points that count towards status (e.g. You need 75k for Spire Elite, the IHG top tier). However, transfers from Virgin Flying Club to IHG count towards obtaining status and can be a decent way of topping up to 75k points to hit Spire Elite to trigger a 25k bonus.

  8. I’ve got a (related) question for any SkyMiles/Flying Club frequent flyers which use the site… I’ve got a Delta (One) flight to Minneapolis in March. Originally I joined Delta SkyMiles to credit the flights but reading the above I’m wondering if I should instead join Flying Club and credit there due to the increased options for redemption?

  9. So, if you are booking a Delta flight with VS miles you have to do it via the Virgin website?
    How do you get to see those flights on the Virgin website? When I log in and go to the”Spend miles” bit I only seem to get offered VS flight redemptions.

    • Has to be done over the phone as it’s treated as a partner redemption I believe.