Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

I finally book the UK’s best value – by far – frequent flyer redemption

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There is one redemption opportunity via a UK frequent flyer programme which – in terms of flights departing the UK – is head and shoulders about the rest in terms of value.

Even more amazingly, availability for this redemption is very easy to find.

Until yesterday, I had never booked it.  Even now, I have booked it but someone else will be flying.


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 :

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

… plus of course Delta.

One of these partners offers outstanding value – Air China.


You can fly First Class from London to Beijing on Air China for just 75,000 Virgin Flying Club miles return.  Business Class is just 63,000 miles, although you’d be silly not to pay the extra 12,000 miles if you can.

The tax, as I found out yesterday, is £508.75.

There are two caveats to the Air China deal, but these are minor:

You can only book London to Beijing.  No other routes are possible, no add-on connections are possible.

You can only book return flights

You can check availability online.  The easiest place to look is the United Airlines website.  United lets you search for redemption availability even if you don’t have a United MileagePlus account – you don’t even need to log in.

If you can see ‘First Class Saver’ space showing for Air China, Virgin Flying Club should be able to book it.

The booking process took 20 minutes but that was mainly due to the agent – who knew exactly what she had to do – waiting for Air China to approve the seat.  It was a longer wait (25 minutes) to get to the front of the Virgin phone queue, as many people are currently calling up with problems following the botched relaunch of the Virgin Atlantic website.

To put this redemption in context, British Airways Executive Club charges 170,000 (off-peak) or 200,000 (peak) Avios points plus £550 for London to Beijing in First Class.

Even if you have a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher, it is STILL better value to use 150,000 Flying Club miles for two people.

The eight-seat Air China First Class seat doesn’t look too bad either as the photos in the article show.  It is not on a par with Etihad or Emirates (the food seems to be especially weak) but for 75,000 Virgin Flying Club miles return …..?  I don’t think anyone will complain.

As I said, this ticket was not for me but I will try to get a review done.

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (August 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, the Reward+ card has a bonus of 15,000 Virgin Points):

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Rewards credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

A generous earning rate for a free card at 0.75 points per £1 Read our full review

You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points.

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into Virgin Points.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Points

(Want to earn more Virgin Points?  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.)

Comments (101)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Roger says:

    I have just booked a one-way flight in First Class with Japan Airlines from Heathrow to Tokyo Haneda in August 2017 (via the BA site) for 120,000 Avios plus £193 taxes/fees. The BA options were charging over £300 in taxes just for Club! On the JAL website the price of the flight is currently £9450 (although I know that one way flights are always insanely priced) but I am over the moon after researching JAL’s levels of service. It will be my first ever First Class flight – I can’t wait!

  • Jamie says:

    Is there also a one way price or can this award only be booked as a return flight ?

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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