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 (June 2021)
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, one has a bonus of 15,000 Points):
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:
(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.)