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.

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  1. Did this route using air miles last month and was pleasantly surprised. Food with better than virgins upper class, staff were good and beds huge. Overall by far best 75k miles spent

  2. I’ve got about 60k VS miles and most of it was from train travel! So perhaps next year I’ll tip it over the 75k by getting a VS Amex and give this a shot.

  3. 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!

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

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