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Where can you fly these days with Virgin Flying Club miles?

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Today I wanted to take a look at a regularly asked question – “Where can you fly on Virgin Atlantic these days?”

This is especially pertinent as you can still – until 14th December – get higher bonuses on the new Virgin Atlantic / Virgin Money credit cards.  As you can read here, the free card currently comes with a 10,000 mile bonus and the £160 card comes with a 25,000 mile bonus.  Virgin is also happy for you to have both cards as long as you leave a six month gap.

The coverage of Virgin Flying Club on Head for Points has increased considerably since the site started over six years ago.  This has been driven by a few factors:

generous credit card sign-up bonuses that let you get started quickly, especially when the old MBNA cards were available

regular, albeit modest, Tesco Clubcard and – until a couple of years ago – 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.  I was at Craig Kreeger’s retirement lunch at The Aviation Club on Thursday, and the Virgin CEO was discussing the difficult financial health of the airline when he joined.

What we have seen since then is US airline Delta acquiring a 49% stake, the upcoming investment by Air France KLM for a 31% stake and 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 although, of course, the wheel always turns and Virgin Atlantic is now reportedly bidding for Flybe.

I thought it was worth doing a summary of where you can fly these days using Virgin Atlantic miles. 

Here are the current Virgin Atlantic long-haul routes from London:

USA:  Atlanta (Heathrow), Boston (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)

Africa and Middle East:  Dubai (Heathrow, ends March 2019), 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 (ends May 2019), Los Angeles (launches May 2019), 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, Varadero, Detroit (moved to Delta).  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 Detroit, Minneapolis, Portland, Salt Lake City and Philadelphia to the ex-Heathrow options.  It also flies from Edinburgh and Glasgow to New York, and in 2019 will launch Edinburgh to Boston (Summer only).

Virgin 787

Redeeming on Virgin Atlantic partners

Virgin has a number of airline partners – ANA, Air New Zealand, Air China, Gulf Air, Hawaiian Airlines, Jet Airways, SAS (earning only), Singapore Airlines, South African Airways and Virgin Australia, plus of course Delta.

Spending your miles on these partners is not easy.  I wrote a special article on the subject here although the exceptional Air China discussed is no longer available at that price.  There are two issues to bear in mind:

some partners only allow redemptions via Virgin Atlantic on certain routes

availability, in general, is NOT the same as that airline offers to its own frequent flyer members or alliance partners

One improvement over the last year or so is the ability to book one-way redemptions with most partners.  Virgin Atlantic previously insisted on a return flight.

These, then, are the current Virgin Atlantic options if you choose to diversify away from Avios in the coming months or take advantage of the current improved credit card sign-up bonuses to start building up Flying Club miles.

If you’re tempted to redeem on Virgin, this is my review of the Virgin Clubhouse lounge in Heathrow Terminal 3 (Anika’s more recent review is here) and this is my review of Upper Class on a Boeing 787.

Important dates for your diary - offers about to close which you shouldn't miss
Review of the Virgin Trains lounges at London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly
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Comments

  1. OT (no Bits) – Marriott ’29 ways’ points seemed to have now posted in one chunk – 1,100 points increase in my balance today.

  2. I can’t understand how flying direct to Seattle is more profitable for Virgin than flying to Tokyo.
    I’m hoping Virgin will release some new routes once the A350s are delivered.

    • Seattle = Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing, Walmart, Starbucks, Costco, Expedia etc all have large offices in/around the city.

    • Shoestring says:

      @Mark – that’s like saying you don’t know why BMW 320D is less profitable than BMW 330.

      Of course you don’t.

      • Higher selling price for one

        • Sell something for £30K that costs £25K, or something for £20K that costs £10K, which do you think might be more profitable?

        • Sell something for 20k and sell something for 30k with the same profit margin, which do you think is the higher profit????

        • Don’t know what it has to do with the topic but still…

        • Do you think margin is consistent across product? On the airline topic just look at the range of prices tickets in the same class will sell for. I believe it’s broadly accepted that WT+ is BAs most profitable cabin. Whilst we’ll never know for sure, this would suggest that the 3rd most expensive class of ticket is the most profitable.

        • No not at all, you asked a question where the answer was obvious same as mine and not to do with the price of an airline ticket.

          A higher selling price doesn’t always mean higher profit it would depend on the business and the product or service, my original reply was that one bmw had a higher selling price.

          I don’t know about the profitability of airline tickets but I know there would be a lot of variables.

  3. Prins Polo says:

    To echo other comments – I’m also not happy with the heavy coverage of VS recently, but mostly from a very selfish perspective – I’d prefer the VS scheme to stay under the radar 😉

    • Shoestring says:

      Not you PP 🙂 – but what a load of old moaners there are lurking around lol

      If they’ve got nothing to say other than some asinine whinge, we come back to the acronym for Southampton Town Football United – STFU!

    • Well I’m sure Rob’s all cut up about you not being happy….

      You need to look at these things as CPD articles, continual professional development – take what you need, ignore the rest. Aviation turns and turn fast. I’m no lover of Virgin travel but they’re probably the second biggest source of easily earnable and transferable points in the UK so you play them down at your peril. If BA decided to withdraw avios awards this afternoon, and they can, we’d be clambering for more Virgin miles articles stat. Alas for those who haven’t done their CPD reading Virgin availability will have long been snapped up by those of us who did 🙂

  4. Need more ways to spend VS miles as outside of London the options are next to zero and even from London the destinations aren’t great

  5. So, my understanding based on the last available information i was able to find: No there are no ‘household account’s equivalents in flying club, save for the ability to create children accounts if your gold (which I’m not) – but you can book flights for other people is that correct?

    • Yes.

      And, unofficially, if both account holders are travelling the call centre is generally happy to jiggle where the miles come from.

      • Awesome thanks.

        Gotta say, my Delta One experience last month (including a great bit of rerouting when a domestic flight went tech) was very good, I’m a VS (/DL) convert

      • Had first-hand experience of VS call centre jiggling and very grateful for it…

      • the ‘jiggle’ is that you can use miles from more than one account so long as the miles for a sector can be funded from a single account.

        So if you had 50k in one account and 30k in another and needed 80k for a reward you couldn’t do that but if you needed 60k for a return (30k per sector) then each account can contribute 30k

  6. Mark Roscoe says:

    Always found Virgin call centre to be great when a “little jiggling” is required.

  7. Qwerty Bertie says:

    Pardon my ignorance. What does the S in VS stand for?

    • Theres a flyertalk thread dedicated to this with lots of wierd and wonderful ideas on what the S means, what is for sure is that VA was taken by a venezuelan airline that had already taken VA at the point Virgin Atlantic was formed – VA then went to Virgin Australia when it became availabl

    • Someone already had VA somewhere in the world so Virgin Atlantic had to settle for VS as its operating code.

      • VS came from the official name of the company Virgin atlantic airwayS

        By the time the VA designator became available VS was too embedded in systems to change it

        There is also a thread about it on v-flyer.com

  8. With the transfer bonuses from Amex points to Virgin Flying Club, how much do these promotions come up nowadays? I saw one happened in August and am kicking myself for not transferring then. Hoping one comes up before May next year.

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