The Best Airline Redemption In The World Just Became More Flexible

The single best use of Virgin Atlantic miles is business and first class redemptions on Japanese carrier ANA. Indeed, it may be the best value award in the world. It’s so good I expect this will not last, presumably once the current Virgin-ANA contract is up. (Virgin pays ANA about $650 one way in first class between the US and Japan.)

  • 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

The only downside was that one-way awards weren’t possible (or cost the full roundtrip price). That’s no longer the case: “One-way trips are permitted at half of the round-trip mileage” according to Virgin’s partner page for ANA redemptions. (HT: One Mile at a Time)

You can instantly transfer Chase, American Express, or Citi points to Virgin Atlantic, and Virgin will even put an award on hold for 24 hours while you transfer the points. Search, Aeroplan, or ANA websites for availability and then call Virgin.

Again, don’t transfer points speculatively. I don’t know when this opportunity will end. It’s been around for years. But it will eventually go away, probably without any advance notice.

While it’s unclear when Japan will re-open to tourism I’m thinking about another trip booked far into the future just for great sushi.

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, 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. Mojo – I’m thinking that it’s probably going to auto-renew for a few years. Hear me out.

    Right now – people book flights (largely) speculatively. OOMAT just posted a few minutes ago to beat the drum, and I’m sure bookings will ensue. VA will let you book without knowing that travel will occur, and to signal goodwill, they will let you change your trip twice free of charge.

    Only, I’ve been bumping them since January 2020. I now pay $50 for every subsequent move, per passenger. The alternative is to cancel for $100. So, despite Covid, despite isolationist policies, they still are making money with nonredeemable award reservations.

    That’s objectively good business. Why would they change it?

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