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.)

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 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.