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Your last chance to book Virgin’s best value redemption – Air China to Beijing

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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.

The bad news is that this redemption will cease to be a bargain on 1st MayYou have only three days to book if you want to take advantage.


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
  • 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 is around £500 return.

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 (edit: this seems to have changed as the comments say recent one-way bookings have been made)

One of our readers recently flew this route in Business Class on Air China and we published his flight review here.

This flight stops being a great deal on Tuesday

From 1st May, Virgin Atlantic is repricing this award to bring it in line with its own redemptions. 

I am guessing that this is also driven by the introduction of KLM and Air France redemption availability, which should be bookable via Flying Club within the next 12 months once the new Virgin / Delta / KLM / Air France joint venture has Government approval.

This is how the pricing will change from Tuesday.  I must admit I did a double-take:

Air China London to Beijing redemption pricing:

Economy – today: 56,000 miles; from 1st May: 56,000 miles

Business – today: 63,000 miles; from 1st May: 135,000 miles

First – today: 75,000 miles; from 1st May:  200,000 miles

These are not modest changes, to put it mildly.  If you were interested in redeeming on this route, you should obviously be getting on the telephone to Virgin Atlantic before Monday night.

To put this redemption in context, British Airways Executive Club charges 170,000 Avios (off-peak) or 200,000 Avios (peak) 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 – before Monday night – to use 150,000 Flying Club miles for two people.

How to book this flight

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.

To maximise your miles when paying, your best bet is one of the two Virgin Atlantic Reward credit cards.  These earn double miles (3 per £1 on the paid card or 1.5 per £1 on the free card) when you book at or via Virgin Holidays.  Another option is American Express Preferred Rewards Gold which offers double points – 2 per £1 – when you book flight tickets directly with an airline.

How can I get any extra miles I need?

There are three ways of getting the miles you need before Monday evening.  Remember that none of these methods is guaranteed but I would expect them to work:

Transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic (1:1) – this is usually INSTANTANEOUS

Transfer Tesco Clubcard points to Virgin Atlantic (2:5) – this usually happens overnight

Buy Virgin Atlantic miles – I am not sure of the time frame but it should take under 24 hours

Be careful when picking your dates.  Whilst your booking is cancellable and refundable, I doubt that you would be able to change the date without it being repriced at the new higher rates.  I am not saying that it is impossible, since the Virgin Atlantic call centre team are generally very amenable, but you should certainly not expect it.


It is sad to see this excellent deal go away.  If you had been thinking of booking it, I recommend getting your diary out and then getting on the telephone to Virgin Atlantic ASAP.

You can find out more about the Virgin / Air China partnership on the Virgin Atlantic website here.

How to earn Virgin Atlantic miles from UK credit cards

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

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Flying Club miles.  That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.

(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.)

Important dates for your diary - offers about to close which you shouldn't miss (April 2018)
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  1. Didn’t we discuss VS partner redemptions in the comments a couple of weeks ago?

    This example – apparently with a handful of days notice – should be an awful warning to all those who didn’t think the AF/KL tie-up will lead to any devaluations.

  2. KBuffett says:

    OT – is it possible to move Jet Airways points over to Virgin?
    If not, is there anywhere useful that I would move them or use them? I don’t use Jet.

    • Alex W says:

      As a general rule you cannot move points from one airline to another. Some convoluted routes are possible at a poor value.

  3. Well. I knew it. Once I saw you posted about this deal I know virgin would remove this deal.

  4. Virgin are re pricing to bring the cost in line with its own redemption

    Yet again another example of Rip off Britain with an airline charging more than the operating carrier would.

    BA donthis with their exorbitant and spurious fees charging hundreds of pounds when the operating carrier does not. Now VS

    • Andrew says:

      In what way is this an example of an airline charing more than the operating carrier would? The fees aren’t changing, only the number of miles and a direct comparison of Virgin miles to Air China miles is as meangingless as comparing British Pounds to Chinese Yuan. Lufthansa charge 210k M&M to go from Frankfurt to Beijing first class on Air China so you’re still better off with Virgin.

      I dislike price increases as much as the next person but if anything Virgin are making things ‘fairer’ with this change by making Air China redemptions comparable to their own.

  5. New Card says:

    Does anyone know how infant ticketing was dealt with for this award? Virgin’s usual policy or some horrible Air China charge?

    • Virgin policy.

      • Earlier today says:

        What is the policy on adding an infant a few months after securing the redemption seats (once they have been born)? Will they allow this and if so, can I pay in cash or must I use air miles?

  6. Begs the question, what will be the best value Virgin redemption after 1st May?

    Use the old Amex PE upgrade vouchers, 25k miles & £374 rtn to USA, with outside chance of airport upgrades to UC for £50 +12.5k miles?

    One way Delta One JFK to Dublin? $5 & 50k miles?

  7. Or… call me cynical… one of the HeadForMillionGodSaveTheLoyaltyGuy bloggers tries to outdo another by posting a ‘hack’ they all replicate it.. it becomes widely known and it is quickly pulled. Now, where did I originally read about this? Oh yes…

  8. Christian says:

    Do we know if the ANA redemption rates will also be adjusted? Europe to Japan for 95k business or 120k first has been an attractive deal so far.

  9. I was able to 2 x 1st class tickets one way on this offer. Great seats, the united 1st class lounge in LHR is very nice. Excellent value, shame it’s over.

  10. Peter K says:

    It’s funny how people want to read blogs to find out the best ways to use points then turn on then when things go a bit sour. Let’s have some perspective. We wouldn’t know about even half of these things without the blogs so even when something annoying does happen you have to take the rough with the smooth.

    • Memesweeper says:

      +1 — why complain about sites showing up great value redemptions? Makes no sense. People will be calling for a shutdown of HotUKDeals next!

  11. Anyone know if you can do a APD free VS PE/UC redemption out of INV/JER/NQY by tagging on a FlyBE connection?

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