5 Best Uses Of Virgin Atlantic Miles Now That Delta Awards Have Been Devalued

Virgin Atlantic has gutted the price of award redemptions on Delta though reportedly the increased price for U.S. – Europe awards will be rolled back slightly.

My first reaction to this was ‘as soon as Virgin devalues their great ANA awards, and they will, I can stop worrying over the program’ even though they’re a transfer partner of American Express, Chase, and Citibank.

However they have a diversity of partners that can be strategically useful in niche cases. Bear in mind that most of the time where fuel surcharges apply to paid tickets they also apply to awards, and that Virgin charges separately for each flight segment rather than on a ‘one way’ basis.

  1. The single best use of Virgin Atlantic miles is business and first class redemptions on Japanese carrier ANA. It’s so good I expect this will not last, presumably once their current contract is up.

    • 90,000 miles for business class West Coast – Japan, or 95,000 miles from the Midwest and East Coast. This is roundtrip. And when there are fuel surcharges on Japan routes they are de minimis.

    • 110,000 miles for first class West Coast – Japan, or 120,000 miles from the Midwest and East Coast. This is roundrip. And when there are fuel surcharges on Japan routes they are de minimis.

    ANA First Class

  2. Air New Zealand is 62,500 miles in business class between the U.S. and New Zealand. You’ll almost never find award space, but when you do this is a great value.

  3. South African Airways between the U.S. and Africa. One-way business class between the U.S. and Dakar is just 25,000 miles, and just 75,000 miles each way between the U.S. and South Africa. Award space has historically been challenging.

  4. Intra-Asia business class on Singapore Airlines. They didn’t used to allow one-way bookings on Singapore, but now that they do that’s really helpful. Long haul business class award space is not available to Virgin’s program. But one-way prices intra-Asia are decent, for instance:

    • 17,500 miles Singapore – Indonesia
    • 20,000 miles Singapore – Thailand
    • 35,000 miles Singapore – Beijing, Shanghai (50,000 for first class)

    One-way first class Singapore – Australia are published at 65,000 miles but that’s a mirage. The terms also say “Redemptions in Business Class and First Class on their A380-800, 777-300ER and A350-900 aircraft types are not available.” So you need Singapore to schedule a Boeing 787-10 to Australia to be able to redeem for it in a premium cabin – then business class would be 42,500 miles each way.

  5. Virgin Atlantic gives elite status miles for award trips on their own flights. However Virgin’s status isn’t worth much by U.S. standards, and since you’re paying exorbitant fuel surcharges their awards are like a paid ticket anyway. It’s a way to fly business class for the price of non-discounted coach and still earn qualifying miles…

    Copyright: boarding1now / 123RF Stock Photo

You can spend points with Air France and KLM as well, but fuel surcharges make this not a great deal much of the time.

Virgin partners with Hawaiian but prices are generally high. They partner with Virgin Australia and prices aren’t crazy though award availability has been rough for years on more desirable flights.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary,
    “Redemptions in Business Class and First Class on their A380-800, 777-300ER and A350-900 aircraft types are not available.”  Does this caveat ONLY applies to redemption flights between SIN and AUS or does it also apply to intra Asia redemption?

  2. @ Gary — Can ANA awards be booked for travel to Japan beyond Tokyo for no additional miles? Everyone always talks about booking these awards to/from HND and NRT, but you say “Japan”. If yes, do you know if you can add the segments after you’ve already booked flights US-TYO, simply by paying the change fee ($50) and any difference in taxes, or would you need to cancel (to free up the long-haul space again) and then re-book? I believe the latter is the case with EK bookings using AS miles due to married segment logic.

  3. As someone who lives in the USA, none of those are really appealing to me right now. Perhaps Hawaiian but it’s rare to find business class award space on HA metal. Thinking more about it, technically there’s still some value for short-distance Delta flights. Before the new year, premium cabin awards on Delta domestic flights were 25k Virgin points regardless of distance but now for flights less than 500 miles it’s only 17500 Virgin points.

  4. Thank you for this. I have 240K points after two F tickets on ANA were cancelled. Let’s see if anything pops up on any of these (but those are super hard to find).

  5. “It’s so good I expect this will not last, presumably once their current contract is up.”

    It doesn’t technically last now. Every day that comes up, some fugnut grabs a single seat. Even though ANA releases them 2 at a time, they’re gone by the time a meaningful return date would exist.

  6. Do we have any insight as to when the contract expires? Useless to make a booking now for April only to have to cancel it to again due to Covid. I expect the only reliable timeframe (covid speaking) would be October at the earliest.

    Also I second Gene’s question about booking beyond TYO

  7. Gary – I thought Virgin Australia had to kill their long haul flights as part of their restructuring? As such, it would seem the only nonstop Flying Club-bookable flights from the US mainland to Australia would be on Delta metal? Did I miss something?

  8. JUST FYI SQ award tickets cannot be booked using VS miles through VS at present, no date when SQ will reinstate bookings via VS. Website states this and the contact centre confirmed to me the other day as I wanted to book an intra Asia but told the above.

  9. During an AmEx transfer bonus I used 93,000 MR to get a RT 1st on ANA, but in the old 1st with only 1 window 🙁 but everything else was tremendous 🙂

    I don’t like To go and come back – I’d rather keep going around the World. 😉

    In 2019 I flew to Tokyo in January and kept going on two segments in Lufthansa 1st B747-8i Then returned via Etihad 1st & Singapore new A380 Suite to Tokyo then home IAD in May. 🙂

    One way or another I’ll fly ANA new 1st hopefully later this year!

  10. I’m in agreement with the above comments about ANA. If there’s no viable first class award space then the award chart’s prices are purely hypothetical, rather like finding 2 Singapore suites saver awards from Asia to the USA.

  11. Thanks for the tip. It’s a bummer. They cancelled my Delta flights in 2020 so I have 250,000 stranded points I had transferred from UR.

  12. Gene – you can do what you want with ANA but you must book it through ANA, not through Virgin Atlantic. For instance, in ANA’s “off” season, you can fly USA – Japan – Southeast Asia round trip in business class for 100K Amex points transferred to ANA. Again, you cannot do that with Virgin.

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