Today I wanted to take a look at a regularly asked question – “Where can you fly using Virgin Atlantic miles?”
This is especially pertinent as you can still – until mid-morning on 28th February – get a substantially higher bonus on the Virgin Atlantic / Virgin Money Reward+ credit card. As you can read here, the free Virgin credit card comes with a 5,000 mile bonus and the £160 card comes with an enhanced 25,000 mile bonus.
The coverage of Virgin Flying Club on Head for Points has increased considerably since the site started over seven 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
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 in recent years is US airline Delta acquiring a 49% stake and the brand new joint venture with Air France and KLM.
Virgin Atlantic has also, indirectly, returned to short-haul flying via its investment in Flybe although Flybe is not yet bookable with miles (coming soon!).
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 (Heathrow), Los Angeles (Heathrow), Miami (Heathrow), New York (Heathrow), Orlando (Gatwick), San Francisco (Heathrow), Seattle (Heathrow), Washington (Heathrow)
Caribbean: Antigua (Gatwick), Barbados (Heathrow and Gatwick), Grenada (Gatwick), Havana (Gatwick, moving to Heathrow in June 2020), Montego Bay (Gatwick), St Lucia (Gatwick, ending in June 2020), Tobago (Gatwick)
Africa, India and Middle East: Johannesburg (Heathrow), Lagos (Heathrow), Tel Aviv (Heathrow), Mumbai (Heathrow), Delhi (Heathrow)
Asia: Hong Kong (Heathrow), Shanghai (Heathrow)
Coming in 2020: Sao Paulo (Heathrow), Cape Town (Heathrow), New York (Gatwick)
From Manchester, Virgin flies to New York, Boston (switching to Delta in May 2020), Atlanta, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando and Barbados. Delhi will be added in October 2020. 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, Dubai, Cancun, Vancouver, 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. Delta also flies from Edinburgh and Glasgow to New York, and from Edinburgh to Boston (Summer only).
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.
Here is our review of the brand new Upper Class Suite which is rolling out on the new A350 aircraft, initially to New York.
Redeeming on Virgin Atlantic partners
Virgin has a number of airline partners – ANA, Air New Zealand, Gulf Air, Hawaiian Airlines, 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 deal discussed is no longer available at that price.
Redeeming to Japan on ANA is probably the best option available from London. This costs 95,000 miles return in Business and 120,000 miles return in First Class – and you will get the fantastic new ANA seat which I covered here. You will struggle to find more than one seat per flight in either class, however.
I would also flag:
using Air New Zealand to book redemptions from Asian capital cities to Auckland (you will struggle to get redemptions on the Heathrow – LA – Auckland service, which ends in October 2020 anyway), which you could tag on to a Virgin or Avios redemption between the UK and Asia
using Singapore Airlines for regional flights in Asia (you will struggle to get redemptions from Europe to Singapore as most long-haul flights are blocked)
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.
Redeeming Virgin Flying Club miles on Air France and KLM
Virgin, Delta and Air France / KLM have formed a joint venture to cover their combined transatlantic routes, sharing revenues and profits.
From a miles point of view, this has some serious repercussions:
You can redeem Virgin Flying Club miles on Air France and KLM. This opens up a huge new range of redemption possibilities. Virgin Atlantic has become very USA-centric in the last few years but this new partnership will open up pretty much the entire world. Choosing Virgin over BA is more attractive when you have such a wide choice of redemptions.
UK flyers who travel with Air France or KLM (which I know is a lot of HFP readers) can now credit their flights to Virgin Flying Club instead of Flying Blue and they will count towards earning Virgin Atlantic status.
We wrote a very detailed two part feature on how to redeem Virgin Atlantic miles on Air France and KLM which is here and here.
You can learn more about how to earn Virgin tier points and status when flying with Air France and KLM here.
Don’t forget that Delta flights US-Europe have only £4 of taxes and charges!
As we covered extensively in this article, one sweet spot from Virgin Flying Club are flights from the US to Europe on Delta. This excludes flights to the UK and also flights from Europe to the US.
For 50,000 Virgin Flying Club miles + £4 you can fly in Business Class, one way, on any of Delta’s routes from the US to various European cities outside the UK. We listed the available routes here.
These are a few of your options if you decide to take advantage of the current special credit card sign-up bonus to diversify away from Avios.
Remember that the free card offers 5,000 miles (no change) and the £160 annual fee card offers 25,000 miles (usually 15,000 miles), subject to hitting spending targets. Full details are on the Virgin Money website here.
This offer will end on 28th February – usually around 10am to noon.
Learn more about the credit cards mentioned above
Here is the legally required interest rate information on the credit cards mentioned above, together with links to our detailed reviews:
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard – sign-up bonus of 25,000 Virgin Flying Club miles – apply here – our Virgin Atlantic Reward+ review is here – representative APR 63.9% variable including fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit, interest rate on purchases 22.9% variable
Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history. By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.
(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.)