Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Where can you go with Virgin Flying Club miles, given the 25,000 mile credit card bonus?

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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

regular, albeit modest, Tesco Clubcard and – until a couple of years ago – American Express Membership Rewards transfer bonuses (and the total disappearance of ‘Tesco to 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.  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.

Virgin 787

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

By far, the biggest change to Flying Club has been the recent addition of Air France and KLM as Virgin Atlantic Flying Club earning and spending partners.

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.

Redeeming Virgin Flying Club miles on Delta

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 UKWe listed the available routes here.

Conclusion

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:

Virgin Rewards credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

Read our full reviewApply here

Other information:

  • Get a ‘2 for 1’ voucher, valid on cash or points tickets, when you spend £20,000 in a year
  • Alternatively, claim an upgrade voucher or Clubhouse lounge passes
  • Get free access to Virgin Money lounges across the UK
  • Annual fee: Free

Representative 22.2% APR variable

See if you qualify for sign-up bonus +

There is no sign-up bonus on the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard.

You may want to consider applying for the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard instead.  This comes with a £160 annual fee but you receive a bonus of 15,000 points with your first purchase.  You also receive a higher earning rate of 1.5 miles per £1 spent.

After the first year, you could downgrade to the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard.

Learn more about the card benefits +

All Virgin Atlantic credit card holders receive free access to Virgin Money lounges across the UK.  A list of sites is here.

When you spend £20,000 per year on the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard, you can choose a benefit.  This is what you can pick from:

A 2-4-1 voucher, valid for two years, for a Virgin Atlantic cash flight or a Virgin Flying Club redemption, in Upper Class, Premium or Economy

A return upgrade – on either a cash or miles ticket – from Premium to Upper Class, or from Economy Delight/Classic to Premium.  You can either upgrade 1 x return flight if travelling alone or 2 x one-way legs of two return flights if travelling with someone else.

A Virgin Clubhouse lounge pass (requires a same-day Virgin Atlantic, Delta, KLM or Air France flight)

Here’s the small print:

If you are a Red (no status) member, you need to pay 50% of the miles for your 2nd ticket if you redeem your 2-4-1 voucher in Upper Class.  This means that, for Upper Class redemptions for Red members, it is effectively a ‘2 for 1.5’ voucher. For Economy or Premium redemptions, it is a genuine ‘2 for 1’.

If you are a Gold member, you would receive two Clubhouse lounge passes instead on one if you chose that option

Taxes and charges need to be paid on the ‘free’ ticket as part of your 2-4-1 booking

Vouchers are valid for two years and you must fly the outbound leg of your trip before the expiry date

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

Read our full reviewApply here

Other information:

  • Get a ‘2 for 1’ voucher, valid on cash or points tickets, when you spend £10,000 in a year
  • Alternatively, claim an upgrade voucher or Clubhouse lounge passes
  • Get free access to Virgin Money lounges across the UK
  • Annual fee: £160

Representative 63.9% APR variable based on an assumed £1,200 credit limit and £160 annual fee.  Interest rate on purchases 22.9% APR variable.

See if you qualify for the 15,000 points sign-up bonus +

You receive a sign-up bonus of 15,000 Virgin points with your first purchase.

There are no restrictions on earning the bonus if you are accepted.  However, you cannot apply for a card if you currently, or in the previous six months, had a Virgin Money credit card.

Learn more about the card benefits +

All Virgin Atlantic credit card holders receive free access to Virgin Money lounges across the UK.  A list of sites is here.

When you spend £10,000 per year on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard, you can choose a benefit.  This is what you can pick from:

A 2-4-1 voucher, valid for two years, for a Virgin Atlantic cash flight or Virgin Flying Club redemption, in Upper Class, Premium or Economy

A return upgrade – on either a cash or points ticket – from Premium to Upper Class, or from Economy Delight/Classic to Premium.  You can either upgrade 1 x return flight if travelling alone or 2 x one-way legs of two return flights if travelling with someone else.

A Virgin Clubhouse lounge pass (requires a same-day Virgin Atlantic, Delta, KLM or Air France flight)

Here’s the small print:

If you are a Red (no status) member, you need to pay 50% of the points for your 2nd ticket if you redeem your 2-4-1 voucher in Upper Class.  This means that, for Upper Class redemptions for Red members, it is effectively a ‘2 for 1.5’ voucher. For Economy or Premium redemptions, it is a genuine ‘2 for 1’.

If you are a Gold member, you would receive two Clubhouse lounge passes instead on one if you chose that option

Taxes and charges need to be paid on the ‘free’ ticket as part of your 2-4-1 booking

Vouchers are valid for two years and you must fly the outbound leg of your trip before the expiry date

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.

Comments (44)

  • Jack says:

    Can you hold both Virgin cards at once? If not, how long must you wait after cancelling one to get the other?

    • Rob says:

      In theory 6 months. In practice, you are banned from reapplying – your application will be automatically rejected. If you are trying to downgrade, you need to wait until you are rejected and then call Virgin to say you are downgrading. They will then manually approve you.

      • Alex Sm says:

        This was the same with BA upgrades/downgrades between blue and black cards but then they invented a more civilised way without humiliation of being rejected first

  • Craig says:

    I’ve just used mine and the companion voucher for New York at New Year, works out at about £120 each cheaper when you factor in my reduced fee for the card. All in economy but both daytime-ish flights, return 8am-8pm. On the face of it £240 saved isn’t great but when you factor in the semi-flexible nature then there is a reasonable amount of value. The card is cancelled now and I’m unlikely to be back, I’ll probably transfer the other 15k points I have to Hilton. The plan is for 3 nights in NY and then fly down somewhere sunny for a week, any recommendations?

    • Alex W says:

      You won’t get 3 hotel nights in NY for 15k points! However you might be able to get some domestic flights on Delta for that amount.

      • Craig says:

        Sorry, I meant suggestion for where to go? Florida or the Caribbean seem favourite.

        • Alex W says:

          If it was up to me I would take a rain check on NYC and go straight to the Caribbean 😉

  • Alex Sm says:

    How do you mean that SAS is earning only: do you earn SAS miles for flying Virgin or vice versa?

    • Rob says:

      You can’t spend FC miles but can earn them.

      • Fraser says:

        I have never been credited with SAS flights despite providing my FC number at time of booking. Basically gave up on it and got a SAS account instead.

  • Lawrence says:

    Looking for Upper Class award seats with Virgin points on Delta for end of Aug early Sep on SEA/AMS. Occasionally an odd seat or 2 shows for LAX/AMS but never seen any ex SEA. Anyone know if they ever put any on this route?

    • Mikeact says:

      They do, but its tough, very.
      You have to be in the pecking order and be VERY flexible with dates which can be a big no no for most folks.
      Make sure you sign up for the main Award sites.

  • Mikeact says:

    You most definitely can do US to LHR on Delta for around £4….I’m just looking at my return flights booked for the end of March. They weren’t easy to find, flexibility is key here. Not that we wanted to come back from New York but its easy enough to get up there from New Mexico or anywhere else to connect.

    • Lawrence says:

      Thanks Mikeact. Thought you can’t get the £4 tax flights into UK? Would you mind listing the award sites incase I’m missing any?

    • Grimz says:

      That can’t be right?

  • Grimz says:

    Anyone got a link to show where KLM fly too direct from AMS?

  • Grimz says:

    When you search Virgin/KLM for example AMS – LAX it always directs you via LHR?

    • Mikeact says:

      If you want LAX direct on KL from AMS you start from LHR and connect…separate ticket to save UK charges. Else you will be shown other partners from London, Delta etc., or AF via CDG.

  • John says:

    OT – I am flying VS from LHR to JFK next week in UC with a 4hr layover to a domestic US flight in Delta first class. I dont have any VS or Delta status. Anyone know if I would be able to use virgin or delta lounges in JFK while waiting on my connecting flight? TIA