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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.

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.)

Comments (125)

  • Publius says:

    I’m sure that the Air New Zealand – Virgin partnership has now ended.

  • MT says:

    Did they not once fly to Bahamas as well, I feel like I took that route once but could be dreaming?

  • Nigel the Pensioner says:

    News indeed that Gulf Air are now Flying Club partners. The BA flight back from Bahrain on Wednesday morning was full in Club and WT+ but fortunately only half full in F. Gulf Air are of course an excellent airline – the first to have an on board chef catering for the needs of F passengers, but that innovation was some years ago now.
    I shall explore the possibility of getting shot of some of my hundreds of thousands of Virgin Miles on something other than a dated cattle truck which Virgin’s Upper Class currently is. The new seat from the Thomson catalogue does look miles better but time and tide wait for no man.
    Like Rob’s wife people do seem to amass a load of miles (that they simply don’t use) by shopping basically rather than travelling on the product in question. Is this pointless??

    • New Card says:

      are they actually a partner? They’re not listed on the linked page of Flying club airline partners…

  • BS says:

    Oh dear lord, the top four stories all about Virgin, or what you can do with their miles. Are we going to have days of ‘Virgin’ branded stories, in exchange for them sponsoring the party?

    • Joan says:

      🤭😁

    • Spurs Debs says:

      Of course, no such thing as a “ free drink”

    • Chris says:

      Well at least you can’t accuse the site of doing it subtly!

    • MikeL says:

      Everything has a price, including free drinks 😊. Can’t blame Rob tbh.

      • Rob says:

        For clarity – 100% of the sponsorship money goes behind the bar. I don’t see a penny.

        Taking sponsorship creates a LOT of work and only benefits the readers, not me, apart from the ‘halo’ effect.

        This Virgin article was always running today irrespective of the sponsorship deal because the card offer ends on 14th.

        • Will says:

          Tbf Id argue Virgin don’t get that much press on this site and interesting to know what they’re up to especially given they have a very competitive non Amex card.

    • Fenny says:

      Some of us gave up on BA long ago and welcome the additional Virgin information.

  • The Original Nick says:

    I have no problem with it!

  • Nick says:

    Virgin miles are well worth collecting. I returned on Monday from a trip to Hong Kong on a VS Upper Class redemption having done the same trip a year before in BA Club World. The Virgin product is so superior in every way. The Clubhouse at Heathrow T3 is way better than Galleries at T5. Virgin now use the brand new Plaza Premium FIRST lounge at Hong Kong which is exceptionally fine with complementary massage, an astonishing range of whiskies and wonderful cuisine. The Virgin Dreamliner is substantially more comfortable that the BA route offering of a 777 and A380. The air pressure and humidity in the Dreamliner (also found on A350’s) makes such as astonishing improvement to dehydration and jet lag. The ageing VS upper class herringbone seats are still very satisfactory and, in bed mode, enormously more comfortable than the even more aged BA product. Food drink and cabin service all also a couple of notches above BA Club World.

    Virgin Atlantic generally require fewer miles too. My return (booked as two singles cost a total of 115,000 miles plus circa £400 taxes. The BA equivalent is £150,000 plus circa £400. The big advantage of Virgin is that you can use Miles Booster (even on a redemption ticket) to purchase additional miles for use on a future flight. I used this facility to purchases a further 31,232 miles for £240. Therefore my net cost for the Virgin Upper Class return to Hong Kong was 83,768 miles plus £640. The cheapest direct return flight had been with BA for approximately £2,900 which indicates I was getting value of approximately 2.7p per Virgin mile.

    • Alan says:

      Interesting re UC seat – I found it felt much more enclosed when in bed mode and still preferred CW seats (although I always opt for the window seat, which I find much better than aisle).

      • meta says:

        I agree. I flew once in CW and once in PE on 787 with Virgin and will probably never fly them again unless I really have to. I understand that everyone raves about Virgin, but I don’t like the seat in either CW or PE and based on these 2 flights. I also think the service with BA is a bit more polished. However, I also understand people who like the fact that all seats have aisle access and that the service. Having said that, I am keen to book ANA in J or F, so that’s my next target…

      • Will says:

        Agreed. CW seat is far better for sleeping IFE much of muchness. It’s a cramped arrangement, awkward angle. Not a fan.

        Virgin staff were poor on our flight.

        • Will says:

          Might be worth adding I appreciate Virgin haven’t yet gone down the BA route of having to pay for an allocated seat (if you’re of lowly status).

    • Mark2 says:

      I find that hard to believe: Virgin charges the same as rip-off BA!

  • Claire says:

    We’ve just made a cracking redemption of our tiny Virgin miles accounts. Had about 9k each from one bargain £280 economy return to orlando nearly 3 years ago, never thought I’d manage to do anything with them, but just used 7,500 (plus £4.20 tax) for a one-way inter-island flight Lihue-Honolulu with Hawaiian Airlines that would have cost around £90 for cash.

    • Alan says:

      Nice one! Those intra-island flights can be pretty pricey for what they are, that’s a nice use of miles that you were potentially not going to use anyway!

  • Alan says:

    Recently booked LHR-HND in ANA F for 120k VS miles and £400 – took 5 min on the phone, availability matched what I’d found on United.com. Stunning value vs BA 🙂

    • Will says:

      That’s interesting. Computer said no when I called several times (using United’s availability) a few years ago. And one-way?

      • Alan says:

        Oh no, that was the price for the return 😀 Perhaps I just got lucky, but UA was only showing 1 seat available each way and VS was able to book them.