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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.)

Important dates for your diary - offers about to close which you shouldn't miss (Dec '18)
Review of the Virgin Trains lounges at London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly
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Comments

  1. Charlie says:

    Hi Rob,
    If you’re going to give virgin and the credit cards another plug, can you please confirm yet whether we can get a virgin upgrade voucher on each card?

  2. Memesweeper says:

    VS may have some great redemption options but *finding* them is horrible. Searching across multiple different accounts and sites seems to be the only way for partner airlines, and the Virgin site itself is rubbish for finding their own redemption opportunities! The 0.6p discount on flights is the most guaranteed way to be sure to spend the miles.

    • My point exactly!

    • At leats the VS site shows for it’s own (and DL) flights the miles needed for each cabin in the same page when searching for a miles seat and the availability on each flight in each cabin. I find it far easier to search on VS that on BA.

      I can see that on the flights for my next trip I’m looking at that on the VS 45 there is availability in Y and PE but not UC but on the VS 9 none in Y or PE but there is in UC.

      Partners are a different matter though.

      • Yes I quite like their grid layout. PITA not being able to get connection from EDI on redemptions now Little Red has gone though – mind you last time I flew back BOS-MAN then got train to Slateford (near Haymarket) for the princely sum of £13!

    • Lady London says:

      When I costed up to use my smallish balance on VS, on a flight to the USA I found the taxes to be far too high and not that far short of British Airways’ greed tax amounts.

      I know Rob did a recent article on where you can transfer Virgin miles to but nothing there really seemed good value. So I am at a loss to know where to put my Virgin miles before they expire.

      • Transfer to hotel programme maybe best option rather than letting them go to waste?

      • Shoestring says:

        No need for expiry, kept mine alive without flying – since 1999. Just buy something thru their shops portal. Plenty of other cheap points opps – didn’t you go for the v.cheap life insurance deal?

  3. An early route missing from the list of retired routes is Maastricht, said to be targeting NL/B/D/LUX travellers for feeder flights to VS at LGW.

    What I’m waiting to find out, like others, is how i can use VS miles on AF and KL, hoping those awards will be better value than most Flying Blue awards. For example, will VS have anything similar to BA’s RFS awards?

  4. The new virgin credit card when do the bonus points hit the account, when the first months payment is due (spend target meet)
    Thanks
    J

  5. OT – please what is the link to upgrade from the BA blue card to the BAPP.
    Also if I have already spent over the £10k, will it immediately trigger the 241 voucher?

    Thanks

    • No link – just make a new card application for BAPP on the website and enter your blue card number when it asks if you have any other amex cards.
      Yes it will trigger the companion voucher straight away, but just check the expiry – mine was issued with one year instead of two, and took a while for then to resume it for me.

  6. Just to clarify that yes DL own 49% of VS but they bought that stake from SQ not direct from Virgin.

  7. Shoestring says:

    Any news, gossip/ speculation on if/ when Virgin Atlantic Flying Club joining same loyalty platform as AF/ KLM?

    • VS won’t be joining Sky Team if that is what you are asking.

      |As for the new joint venture it won’t be until next year for the regulatory approval AND the share sale to AF-KL to go through (the share sale is predicated on the joint venture getting approval – no JBA no share sale)

      VS spun off flying club into a separate entity earlier this year and it will remain owned by VS and DL. Rob wrote an article on it earlier this year.

      • Shoestring says:

        Nope, I mean redeeming Virgin miles on Flying Blue flights. Can somebody get the question in on Tuesday please?

        • I was told that they could (technically) launch redemptions before regulatory approval is given for the JV. 31st March is an internal date they have but Kreeger implied on Thursday it may slip.

        • Shoestring says:

          Some months after 31st March would still be great. Could offer loads more possibilities, not just Europe of course. I keep seeing those 30%/ 50% off promotions on FB and if you had quite a bit of flexibility with your plans, they offer pretty good value. Though FB points redemptions don’t otherwise seem to come cheap.

          • I keep meaning to use some of them to finally get some of my FB miles used! Regularly (perhaps every second time) they have decent discounts for Canada in Biz.

        • I had been interested in flights from BHX on Flying Blue but it seems only CDG and AMS. I just did a test booking start for LHR to CDG in January. BA is 8,000 Avios + £35. Flying Blue is from 12,000 points + €68.34. Amsterdam is from 12,000 points + €79.26.

          Some flights require a lot more points

        • Don´t bother with FB short haul redemption. Focus on using them on LH economy or busniess. Their FB promo award offer excelente value

        • Like now there´s in BUSINESS to MEXICO CITY from anywhere in the UK for 26.500 miles each way, only in february and march

        • Shoestring says:

          yep that’s fantastic value, I keep seeing these! 🙂

        • these are interesting.. but the taxes/fees are 200-300eur cheaper starting from AMS instead of BHX – so could be worth starting your journey in AMS and getting a cheap cash flight to AMS.

  8. OT as no bits. I was looking for a short feeder flight yesterday on Google flights and noticed WOW’s price had a picture of a small carry on case with a line through it. Apparently if you want to put carry on in the overhead locker you had to pay more? How long has this been happening?

    https://www.google.co.uk/flights?lite=0#flt=/m/0fhp9./m/01f62.2019-03-22;c:GBP;e:1;sd:1;t:f;tt:o

    • With WOW or in general? AA have been doing this for a while and Ryanair are even worse by the sound of it!

      • Shoestring says:

        You can get round the new Ryanair rules (they were actually very generous in the recent past!) simply by buying the £6 priority pass – which allows you to take cabin luggage on board again.

      • I actually think Ryanair is quite fair.
        You can take your normal cabin-sized bag AND a smaller rucksack/laptop bag, for free, but the bigger bag has to be checked in and go in the hold and the smaller bag goes under the chair in front.

        If you want to take your cabin bag AND smaller bag in the cabin, you pay £6 ish and get priority boarding (although the value of priority is very small when everyone has it).

  9. Shoestring says:

    O/T I have thought up a way to get the ebay.es points for using the IB shopping portal. You can change your Ebay home country at will, just by modifying your personal Ebay details. So change UK to Spain before using the IB portal. [This works fine as currently you can (say) change your home country to USA, buy something using the USA 15% off code but with your UK Ebay a/c, then switch it back to UK. I’ve done it.]

    Then you should be able to get around the IB rule that says IB points on ebay.es are payable for Spanish residents only. (You can use exactly the same Ebay UK login details to log in on ebay.es.)

    • Is Spanish Groupon a shopping partner as well? I forgot to check before buying my avios yesterday so may need to kick myself now! Still, I seem to have got 12,000 avios for 153 euros which is pretty good to kick off my IB plus account. Like you were saying yesterday, 15,000 avios plus £35 gets a seat in the school hols which can easily cost £400!

      • Shoestring says:

        yes – extra points

        • Just checked and it’s only 3 points per euro so I haven’t lost out as much as I would have at over at BA where it’s currently 16 avios per £! My Groupon vouchers are still showing as disponsible even though I went through the transfer process yesterday – I can transfer them to a new account can’t I? I’m sure a couple of people on here said they had done that.

          On another note, apparently the annual fee for Amex Platinum in Spain is 690 euros! I wonder if they get many takers?

        • Shoestring says:

          yep you just need to be patient sometimes, I did Groupon.es Avios a couple of years ago and it worked out fine after a couple of days

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

  11. 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.

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