Flying Club is the frequent flyer program of Virgin Atlantic, the London based international carrier.
- Virgin Atlantic has reasonable redemption values from a point perspective on their own aircraft
- Partner rewards for Delta flights are attractive
- Reasonable change and cancellation fees
- Multiple sources of points from credit cards
- Miles Booster allowing reasonable point purchases on paid fares
- Off-Peak and Peak season adjustment is expensive
- Segment based redemptions. North America to India would be 2 reward tickets.
- Steep surcharges on all reward tickets
- Upgrades appear to be more expensive than purchasing the fare
Virgin Atlantic's chart is region based to the United Kingdom. Departures from the United States are based on 4 geographical regions, Northeast, Midwest, South and West. Cities included in these regions are defined at the bottom of the chart. These redemptions are for round-trip tickets, one-way trips require 50% of the points stated.
The previous chart tables redemptions for Off-Peak dates. A further adjustment is required based when traveling in Peak season. For 2017 these dates apply:
- January 16 - March 30
- April 19-June 21
- September 7 - December 12
- March 30 - April 19
- June 22 - September 6
- December 13 - January 3 2018
This table reflects redemptions required for round-trips destinations to/from the UK during the Peak season.
You can redeem Virgin Atlantic points on a number of their partner airlines. Most charts are not published. The following restrictions apply as well. Round trips are required with the exception of Virgin Australia.
- Air China: London to Peking route only
- Air New Zealand
- ANA: Blackout dates apply
- Hawaiian Airlines: Reservations must be made 7 days prior to departure
- Malaysian Airlines
- Singapore Airlines: Business class and First class are not available on A380, B777-300 and A350 aircraft
- South African Airways: Travel within South Africa only
- Virgin Australia: Reservations must be made 14 days in advance. (Note: When inquiring about a Virgin Australia business class reward I was told by two sources that they aren't available using Virgin Atlantic points.)
Delta' reward chart using Virgin Atlantic points.
Jet Airways reward chart which is distance based.
Reward tickets may be secured for anyone. Name changes are not allowed once the ticket is issued.
Reward tickets are valid for 1 year.
Changes or cancellations are allowed up to 24 hours in advance. The change/cancellation fee for tickets departing the UK is 30GBP and for tickets departing elsewhere is $50USD. Changes to time/date, route and class of service are allowed with payment of the fee as well as any point difference.
Within 24 hours of departure no changes are allowed. Cancellations will incur a 100% forfeiture of points as well as a 30GBP fee for processing the refund for taxes and fees.
Reward ticket holder are not entitled to any complimentary ground transit services. A ticket hold may purchase these services with a payment of points.
Partner rewards must be ticketed 72 hours prior to departure.
Virgin Atlantic collects all taxes, fees and carrier-imposed surcharges on their own rewards as well as partner rewards. Virgin Atlantic has significant carrier-imposed surcharges, typically starting from $450 even in economy class. Being a British based carrier, all departures on reward tickets will include the "Air Passenger Duty", which typically exceeds $200. While transfers can avoid this tax, since Virgin Atlantic rewards are individual, they will alway include this fee.
Infants / Children
Children traveling as unaccompanied minors may travel on reward tickets at full adult fare.
Points expire 36 months after the last activity in the account.
The Virgin Atlantic chart is segment based with all rewards starting or ending in the UK. For North American itineraries that transit through London to destinations such as Africa, India or the UAE as well as China, two reward tickets are necessary.
Open Jaws are permitted as are layovers by virtue of the rewards being individual segments to/from the UK.
Upgrades are allowed to "Flexible" fares. The lowest fares with booking codes N,O,V can not be upgraded. Although you pay a taxes, fees and surcharges in the original fare, the higher class fare has a greater surcharge and you are responsible for that increase on any upgrade. The following table if Off-Peak upgrades. Peak upgrades require and additional 10,000 points for premium economy or 15,000 points for business.
Purchase, Upgrade or Reward
The first comparison is an Off-Peak upgrade and reward. The comparisons are based on this sample fare from LAX to LHR. The lowest fares economy and premium economy fares can't be used to upgrade. Interestingly the flexible economy fare was more than the flexible premium economy fare, in fact it was equal to a business class fare. Also detailed are the taxes and fees.
Because the economy fare was so high, upgrading to premium economy doesn't make sense. Even an upgrade from Premium Economy to Business wasn't a great deal. In all but one instance, the economy fare and 1.5 cents per point, a reward ticket was a better option that either a purchase or an upgrade.
Comparing a Peak reward to upgrades or a purchase still shows the reward is best and upgrades can be expensive. The premium class rewards were always better, even considering the surcharges.
Miles Plus Money
You can get a minor reduction to a purchased fare using points with their Miles Plus Money program.
- On a paid economy fare you can spend 3,000 points for a $45 credit (1.5 cents per point)
- On a paid premium economy fare you can spend 7,500 points for a $120 credit (1.6 cents per point)
- On a paid business fare you can spend 15,000 points for a $300 credit (2 cents per point)
For North American destinations this table from Virgin-Atlantic.com details the miles earned for paid fares. Bonuses are paid for Silver members (30%) and Gold members (60%).
Virgin Atlantic has a US branded credit card administered by Bank of America. This card pays a sign on bonus as well as other spend incentives. For more information click here.
Virgin Atlantic has all possible US credit card transfer partners.
- Chase Ultimate Rewards: 1 : 1
- Citibank ThankYou Points: 1 : 1
- AMEX Membership Rewards: 1 : 1
- Starwood Preferred Guest: 1 : 1 (Plus 25% bonus on 20,000 increments)
- e-Rewards: $25 - 500 points
- Hilton HHonors: 10 : 1
- Hyatt Gold Passport: 2.5 : 1 (Bonus after 50,000)
- IHG Rewards Club: 5 : 1 (Minimum 10,000 IHG)
- Marriott Rewards: Tiers with 5 : 1 lowest and 2.8 : 1 highest
The full list of hotel partners can be found with this link.
- Hilton: 2 points per $1USD
- Marriott: 1-2 points per $USD
- Hyatt: 750 points per stay
- IHG: 300/400/500 points per stay based on property
- Langham Group: 250/500 points per night, maximum 3 nights
- Mandarin Oriental Group: 1,000 points per stay
- Starwood: 2/3 points per $1USD based on SPG status
- Shangri-La Hotels: 750 points per stay
You can earn Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points when booking hotels on these sites:
Virgin Atlantic has 2 ways to purchase points. They now offer a 100,000 annual limit to buying points. However the cost is unknown, at least when I tried to buy them.
They also offer Miles Booster which allows you to buy up to double the points earned on a revenue flight. The cost is 1.6 cents per point.
Virgin Atlantic points are the easiest to come by based on the fact they have 4 credit card transfer partners as well as a US branded credit card. The reward chart is reasonable. However there surcharges are huge. Over $1,000 for a round trip ticket to London from the US. Reward Flying's opinion is unless you really want to fly Virgin Atlantic, there are other less expensive programs that fly to the same destinations.