Virgin Devalues ANA Business Class Awards Up To 26% Without Notice

Virgin Atlantic has raised the price of ANA awards again. Last March they raised the price of ANA first class awards without notice by as much as 42%. This change focuses primarily on business class.

You’re still going to get value, even with the fuel surcharges that are added, redeeming miles for ANA travel through Virgin – even though connections beyond Tokyo would require a separate award and connections to the U.S. gateway city aren’t included in the award, and even though you won’t get Virgin to place one of these awards on hold pending transfer any longer.

Here are the changes that cover U.S. – Japan business class travel:

Japan To/From Old Price Each Way New Price Each Way % Change
U.S. West Coast, Canada + Australia 45000 52500 17%
U.S. East Coast + Central + Europe 47500 60000 26%
Hawaii + India and Indonesia 35000 37500 7%

This is a great reminder of three basic principles:

  1. Outsized value never lasts. Every program experiences mean-reversion.
  2. Don’t trust a loyalty program that doesn’t publish what awards cost.
  3. Programs that make changes without notice are scum.

None of this means you shouldn’t accumulate the points of a program that behaves poorly. It’s better to earn the points than not to earn them. But you shouldn’t choose to earn them over other currencies, and you certainly shouldn’t bank them. Prioritize burning them, before they burn you. Because they will.

Virgin Atlantic (remember: 49% owned by Delta) is not a trustworthy place to bank miles. You transfer to Virgin for a redemption that’s set up while you are on the phone. You don’t accrue miles for a future redemption with them. They’ve proven themselves untrustworthy, again and again. I’m even regretting transferring Bilt to Virgin Atlantic with 150% bonusing, thinking the magnitude of the offer made up for devaluation risk but I’m no longer so sure.

It’s still a good place to look for U.S. – Japan business class redemptions – 60,000 miles each way from the East Coast with frequent transfer bonuses up to 30%. But the play there is transfer and redeem – and definitely not bank. And this is a good reminder about the trustworthiness of this program, especially as they announce that a new U.S. credit card is coming.

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. IMHO increases in award miles for alliance airlines is a non issue. The reason I say this is that the “devaluations” are all off the base or saver fares. I have practically no luck ever seeing those fares. I’m looking at business class to Japan in February (9 months out) and can’t find anything directly in ANA or through any alliance partner (including Virgin) for under 300,000 miles r/t (and most are either higher or no availability at all). Also some of the flights for 300,000-400,000 are wait list only and not about to gamble on that (will pay cash for business class before I do that).

  2. While changing prices without any notice is bad manners, anyone who doesn’t expect reversion to mean on award pricing is delusional. VS has never been a place to bank points since they partner with every CC point program.

    Since ANA J/F flights from NA are a unicorn right now, this one devaluation effects close to nobody. I was actually happy when TK devalued a few months ago, there is much more TK J availability on partners now without the huge surcharges and the terrible customer service of TK.

  3. Just flew Ana to Tokyo in business suites via United. They made seats available for 100,000 one way within a week of travel. We then cancelled our AA seats we got a “deal” on for 165,000. On way back we had wide open United biz for 200,000 which we kept but when i woke up in Japan in middle of night they had ANA for same 100,000. They were gone by morning though.

  4. Also– and I’m not sure why no one is reporting on this — ANA won’t make available awards to Virgin that are visible on United’s award search. Was just in Japan and despite finding business class awards back on ANA with United, Virgin could not see the space.

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