How do you book flights on Virgin Atlantic’s non-SkyTeam alliance members using Virgin Points?
This article is Part 5 of our new ‘Virgin Redemption University’ series to run alongside our existing ‘Avios Redemption University’ – which itself will get a much-needed update next month.
If you want to earn more Virgin Points, our review of the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard credit card is here (15,000 bonus points) and our review of the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard credit card is here.
Here are the other 12 articles in the series:
- How does Virgin Red differ from Virgin Flying Club?
- How many Virgin Points do you need to fly to ….?
- How to redeem Virgin Points on Virgin Atlantic flights
- How to redeem Virgin Points on SkyTeam flights
- How to upgrade your Virgin Atlantic flight with Virgin Points
- How to convert Virgin Points to Hilton or IHG hotel points
- How to use Virgin Points for a Virgin Holidays discount
- How to redeem Virgin Points for hotel rooms via Kaligo
- Is Virgin Atlantic’s ‘Points Plus Money’ feature a good deal?
- What’s the best non-flying use of Virgin Points?
- What is the cheapest way to top up your Virgin Points?
- Get cheaper Virgin redemptions with a credit card voucher
Let’s first look at everyone except ANA ….
Who are Virgin Atlantic’s non-SkyTeam airline partners apart from ANA?
- Air New Zealand
- All Nippon Airways
- Hawaiian Airlines
- IndiGo (earning only, no redemptions)
- SAS (earning only, no redemptions)
- Singapore Airlines
- South African Airways
- Virgin Australia
There is no standard partner redemption chart in terms of the Virgin Points needed and it is difficult to get your head around what is a good deal.
In general, however, you won’t find these partners (except ANA) relevant if you are UK based.
Air New Zealand no longer has any flights from Europe. Whilst this is an option if you are heading down under, you would need to match it to another flight to get there. It flies from Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore to Auckland.
Hawaiian Airlines is similar. With no services to the UK, you will only be using them in conjunction with another flight. One option is to use them to fly from a US West Coast city to Hawaii.
LATAM only became available for redemptions in mid August 2023 – literally a week after this article was first published. We don’t yet have any information on what can and cannot be done.
You can forget Singapore Airlines for long haul because “Redemptions in Business Class and First Class on their A380-800, 777-300ER and A350-900 aircraft types are not available.” This covers virtually every aircraft they fly from Europe. You can book regional Singapore Airlines flights around Asia which may be handy if travelling in the region.
South African Airways is now a shadow of its former self. It currently has no long haul flights although it will restart Sao Paulo from Johannesburg and Cape Town in November 2023.
Virgin Australia is in a similar situation to Air New Zealand. If you want to use it to reach Australia, as opposed to flying regionally across Australia and New Zealand, your only option is to make your own way to Denpasar or Tokyo and connect.
How many miles do you need?
Each airline has its own reward chart. Follow the link to that airline on this page of the Virgin Atlantic website.
How do you book?
None of these partners except LATAM can be booked online. All require you to call Virgin Atlantic.
How can you check availability?
Not easily, except for LATAM which can be searched and booked online.
The best route is to find another airline which has your airline as its partner and look for award seats online with them. In most cases Virgin Atlantic can see the same seats, but this is not always the case, eg see the extra restrictions that Singapore Airlines puts in place.
For LATAM, it is as simple as going to Virgin Atlantic’s homepage, entering your destination and dates you want to fly and selecting ‘Points’, an option which is hidden under the ‘Advanced’ button. In reality the site can be buggy so a call may be needed.
How to use Virgin Points to fly ANA
ANA is the most useful non-SkyTeam airline partner if you have Virgin Points and are based in the UK
You can also earn Virgin Points when booking cash tickets on ANA, if you want to steer your next business trip their way. ANA is, of course, a Star Alliance member so you also have the option of crediting a cash flight to any Star Alliance frequent flyer programme.
How many Virgin Points do you need to fly ANA?
Assuming you are based in the UK, these are the key numbers you need to know:
- Economy return flight (London to Tokyo) – 65,000 Virgin Points
- Business return flight (London to Tokyo) – 95,000 Virgin Points
- First return flight (London to Tokyo) – 170,000 Virgin Points
One way redemptions are possible for half of the above cost.
Note that First Class redemptions seem to be limited to one seat per flight to Europe, especially on the aircraft with the new ‘THE Suite’ product which we discuss below. This was never a great option for a couple unless you book one seat and wait to see if another is released later.
Whilst this article talks about using ANA to fly to and from Europe, you can redeem Virgin Points for any flight on their network. It gives you another option if you are travelling around Asia.
How can you check ANA reward availability?
Virgin Flying Club appears to have access to the same availability as ANA’s Star Alliance partners. The Aeroplan (Air Canada) and United Airlines websites are both decent places to search for seats before calling Virgin Flying Club to book.
What about taxes and surcharges?
Historically there were no fuel charges added to ANA redemptions using Virgin Points which kept taxes and charges from the UK at around £250.
During the pandemic, however, ANA got greedy and started to add surcharges. It isn’t possible to check the numbers online but I believe it is now around £700-£800 return in a premium cabin. If anyone has booked recently, please post in the comments and I will update this section.
Virgin Atlantic lets you book ANA flights 331 days in advance
Virgin Atlantic allows you book rewards 331 days in advance. This applies to all partners and indeed Virgin Atlantic’s own flights.
Whilst this does not sound like a problem, ANA itself opens up its flights for booking at 355 days before departure.
This puts an additional squeeze on reward availability using Virgin Points, since reward seats can be snapped up by ANA’s own frequent flyers or members of partner programmes which work on a 355 day basis before you have a chance to book.
A handy tip – start outside the UK
If you can’t find availability on the ANA flights from London, try another European starting point and get there under your own steam.
The schedule for Summer 2023 is:
- Frankfurt – 14x weekly on a Boeing 787-9
- London Heathrow – 7x weekly on a Boeing 777-300ER
- Munich – 3x weekly on a Boeing 787-9
- Paris CDG – 3x weekly on a Boeing 787-9
- Brussels – 2x weekly on a Boeing 787-9
Is ANA any good?
In 2019, ANA launched a new Business and First Class seat on its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, and the London route was the first to get it. It looks rather good, to put it mildly.
The First Class suites, known as ‘THE Suite’, are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration. Finished in dark woods, there are two only rows which make this an intimate cabin:
The seat almost takes the full width of the suite, with only a thin slither along the side given over to storage or as an armrest. There is also an exceptionally large 43” screen which has a 4K display.
170,000 Virgin Points is still – given the quality of THE Suite – excellent value for a ‘once in a lifetime’ flying experience, especially on such a long route.
THE Room is ANA’s new Businesss Class product. Club World style, half of the seats face forwards and half face backwards.
If you look at the photo below the first thing that will strike you is how disproportionately wide the seat is. Look at the head rest. You can see the protective cover, which is about what you’d expect the seat width to be. THE Room looks like it is twice as wide – more sofa-like than a seat! ANA says that THE Room has twice the width of their old business class seat (click for Anika’s flight review) which is not hard to believe.
Of course, this is business class and the trade-off is that it does taper into a cubby hole where your feet end up. Nonetheless, the extra width at torso and shoulder height makes sitting and sleeping in this seat feel a lot less cramped. It is a very clever piece of design.
I haven’t flown THE Room but I have sat in the seat at a media event. It is, genuinely, huge. At one point there were two of us sat side by side on the seat and we were able to have a normal conversation, with a decent bit of space between us.
Not content with a sliding door, THE Room also has a second opening which slides up and down. This allows the crew to pass food to you whilst the door is closed, getting around one of the biggest issues with Club Suite and Qsuite. The 24 inch 4K TV also looked very impressive, although it was not operating.
At 95,000 Virgin Points for a return trip to Tokyo, you’re laughing – even if taxes and charges are now steeper than they were.
Whilst Virgin Atlantic has a number of non-SkyTeam airline partners, most of them aren’t going to be of any use to you – and three don’t allow redemptions at all, only the earning of Virgin Points.
The sweet spot is using ANA to fly to Japan, where if you can get the right aircraft you will also get to fly one of the best seats in the air.
How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (September 2023)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, the Reward+ card has a bonus of 15,000 Virgin Points):
SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard is doubled to 30,000 Virgin Points if you apply by 2nd October. You receive 15,000 Virgin Points with your first purchase and a further 15,000 points if you spend £3,000 within 90 days. Apply here.
You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points.
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.
Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into Virgin Points.
(Want to earn more Virgin Points? 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.)