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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Comments

  1. Virgin doesn’t fly to Detroit from MAN (apparently DL were ready to go on that route but got nervous after the Brexit vote) but do fly (from May) to BOS & SFO which aren’t on the list.

  2. Hi Rob, think it’s Detroit that ends soon. Isn’t Atlanta from LHR staying?

  3. I cannot see MAN to New York on their website – are you sure?

  4. Barry cutters says:

    I have about 70k points that I never seem to do anything with . Avios is my main point currency and I don’t have any option of doubling up my pot of v-miles to get enough for a redemption for 2 people. I need to fly to Beijing next year to get to North Korea (air koryo-happy to review if needed) so think I will top up with Amex points and get to the magic 75k for the best value virgin redemption.

    • the real harry1 says:

      I’ve kept my 100K alive for nearly 20 years now, not too difficult – & recently realised there is a decent point in actively looking to increase the stash for future use post-kids

      • Amen to that! I sometimes look wistfully as redemption opportunities during “off-peak” aka “term time” periods…

    • A one way redemption, returning with BA or a OneWorld partner may be an option. That’s the kind of scenario where the Lloyd’s upgrade vouchers come in useful for two people.

      If you could get to Hong Kong you could also do the return leg with zero fuel surcharge.

      • You will really pay for it in taxes though. 2 x one ways on BA/Virgin will be significantly more than a return on one carrier for most destinations (Hong Kong the glaring exception).

        • I’ve been looking at this option back from DXB single is just under £200.

        • I’ve recently booked Cathay business out to hong kong in October from Zurich in business £105.80 there and an RFS positioning flight and Virgin Back PE to Heathrow (I’m hoping upper seats open hopefully as it was nothing with BA/CX on our dates) but it only cost 45k miles (both of us) plus £68 – Fantastic value Virgin really won here. Total spend £101.9 pp. A great saving I can put towards getting a better hotel.

          Thank Rob for this great site.

        • I recommend the Conrad in HK. We were there in Oct and it was fantastic.

          They informed me a few days before arrival that the lounge would be closed for a private event. I said I wasn’t happy and they then upgraded us to a suite overlooking the harbour (good views for the national day fireworks) and wine, macaroons, chocs etc on arrival and replenished daily. Not bad for two paid standard nights and a hilton free night cert. They’ve won my loyalty.

  5. the real harry1 says:

    that article referred to is pretty helpful http://viewfromthewing.boardingarea.com/2014/01/29/virgin-atlantic-may-worst-miles-8-great-ways-can-use/
    [What can be a good value is redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles without meaningful fuel surcharges for Australian domestic routes. Fuel surcharges for a Sydney – Melbourne are ~ US$6. What’s more, Virgin Atlantic allows one-way redemptions on Virgin Australia so you can piece together all of your flying while Down Under this way. For instance:
    •Sydney – Canberra is 8000 miles one-way in coach
    •Sydney – Adelaide is 15,000 miles one-way in coach
    •Sydney or Melbourne to Perth, Cairns, or Darwin is 20,000 miles one-way in coach.]

    Given me new energy! 🙂 I see a very good use for my miles coming up, I guess I will use the intervening years wisely…fingers crossed for another decent ISA promotion for 2017/18 tax year…

    • the real harry1 says:

      sparkling set of results out this morning from Virgin Money

      augurs well for a decent ISA promo coming right up 🙂

      • Another 12k promo would go down well

      • whiskerxx says:

        Lets hope so.
        But a note of caution – I signed up immediately at the start of the new tax year 2016. The offer was only 6k then. The 12k came along a week or so later. I had to write an nice letter to get another 6k.

        • the real harry1 says:

          I won’t be rushing to sign up for 6K – got a few months at least to wait & see – even 11 months if you are prepared to make a one-off contribution as opposed to the monthly payment scheme – I CBA to log in to Virgin since they made it such a faff but did they increase the minimum term to 9 months if paying monthly? I know they increased the amounts needed both for monthly & one-off payments

        • I signed myself and my partner up at the last 12k promo and my paperwork stated – 6 monthly contributions to keep the points. It’s made a great return so far and 12k in miles, I’ve been very happy. Hopefully, another good promo is on the horizon which could justify the extra requirements, as harry stated.

        • There will also be a new Nutmeg offer soon which will straddle the new tax year, apparently.

        • It would be interesting if Nutmeg’s offer will work for existing customers, as it currently doesn’t.

    • Etihad miles are better for the longer intra-Australia flights though – 6,900 miles + cA$12 for SYD – CNS for example.

  6. Hi Rob.

    Your list from Manchester is rather inaccurate. They have never flown to Detroit (nor is the route awaiting launch).

    You are also missing:
    Manchester to Atlanta
    Manchester to Boston
    Manchester to San Francisco

    Might be worth an update.

  7. Claire Blake says:

    I called Virgin recently to ask if I could use air miles to fly one way with Delta or Air New Zealand and they said yes and gave me the amount of air miles I would need – did I get the wrong info and does it definitely need to be a return flight?? I only want to go one way – thanks

    Routes LAX to Honolulu and Honolulu to Auckland

    • the real harry1 says:

      better to go direct to the source rather than ask here

    • I called Virgin recently asking if I could book one way TO/FROM Beijing with Air China and the guy said yes. Did they made a mistake?

      • Yes

      • I have just booked a pair of one way tickets to MIA in upper class. No problems. They do not allow a redemption one way return with cash though.

        • One way on Air China will cost the same as a return with Virgin miles but you can start your journey in Beijing if you want. The journey doesn’t have to originate in London (I.e. Beijing to London return or London to Beijing return).

  8. Waiting for Amex/Virgin to do a transfer bonus then i’ll be sending some thier way. Any on the horizon?

  9. Wow, how long ago since they flew Athens. That’s pretty much short haul territory…

  10. Fay Yeomans says:

    In addition to the Virgin routes you mention, there are also flghts between Manchester and Boston due to begin soon. We have redeemed points for a one way Upper Class trip from Boston at the beginning of June. Our outbound redemption is from Manchester to Orlando, also in Upper. I believe there will be two flights a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

    • Simon Schus says:

      The MAN-BOS is competing directly with Thomas Cook on the same route. Looking forward to this route as it opens up an easy way of BOS-MAN-EXT with Virgin and FlyBe. (as opposed to BOS-LHR-LCY-EXT, or BOS-DUB-EXT which often required a lot of waiting).

  11. I have a US domestic First flight with Delta in the summer, any suggestions where to credit it? Would be starting from zero. I initially thought Virgin, though not sure how I would build enough miles for a decent long-haul redemption. Or AF/KLM? Edinburgh is our home airport so a wee redemption to Paris or Amsterdam could work if we could top up the miles, though Easyjet are really competitive on those routes too so may not be worth it.

  12. LuckyJim says:

    I don’t think it’s correct that all Delta reward seat are available to Flying Club members, at least not for US domestic routes. Delta reward seat availability is visible on Delta.com but I found I could not book these through Flying Club. I had to transfer some Starwood and Amex points instead.

    • LuckyJim, I’ve been both FB Platinum and DL Diamond for many year and I would say that N and O classes on Delta (lowest level awards) are equally open for own Delta SkyMiles members and all other partners without restrictions. All other award levels are available only to Delta SkyMiles members.

      It’s not like that in the opposite direction. FB might release tons on lower level availability in X and O for own members, but only far cry of that availability is open to partners.

  13. Like most of the ppl here, i have c.75k of Virgin flymiles… I too am struggling to really use them as it is not very often I’ll will be travelling alone. Wouldn’t it be great if the virgin CCs actually did 2-4-1 vouchers similar to the BAPP.

    • You mean where one of the passengers gets preselected for downgrade? (sorry, couldn’t resist! :P)

    • They do have a 2-4-1 voucher when you hit a spend limit on their credit cards. The snag is that you can’t use the voucher with a redemption. But last year Virgin relaxed their rules on which booking classes you could use the companion voucher with. As a result of this, for the first time I managed to put the voucher to good use this year booking a PE return to DEL. Was cheaper than booking 2 redemption tickets.

    • No, because then all us young free & single types would find all the reward availability was booked up all the time. I’m happy for everyone else to stick with BA!

  14. Don’t forget that Virgin miles can be converted to IHG points at 1:1 or Hilton at 1:1.5 in blocks o 5,000 minimum 10,000.

  15. Actually looking at the virgin miles redemption it seems that 75k can ge tme a couple of premium economy redemption to most parts of the world!

    • the real harry1 says:

      yep one way or another it’s going to fit nicely into the grand harry1 & mrs harry1 tour – 6 months in Aus and/ or NZ in about 2024 🙂

      • Yep…ours is going to be a road trip round the South Western USA!

        • 🙂 Rereading and updating all my research notes this week for Route 66 and working on that SW corner or the USA at them moment – detouring down to Roswell and the stunning White Sands NP at Alamogordo, doing Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Phoenix, Tucson, Grand Canyon and Sedona – so much to see!

        • Didn’t make Roswell, but all those other places bring back excellent memories, you’ll have an amazing time!

        • All those, and hoping to get some spa time in some fabulous desert resort in the Santa Fe area!

  16. Gillian Adderley says:

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

  17. 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?

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. Simon Schus says:

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

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. Krackers says:

    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?

  24. 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.

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