Looking for a flight to Europe? Not just London, but almost anywhere in Europe? Or even Japan? Virgin points can probably get you there for less.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is the frequent flyer program for the U.K.’s Virgin Atlantic, but you can use Virgin points to fly all over the world on partner airlines like Delta, Air France and KLM, or even ANA. After announcing plans to join the SkyTeam alliance in 2023, some of Virgin’s best sweet spots may be at stake. But for now, it offers some incredible ways to book flights using points and miles.
And those points are pretty easy to earn since you can transfer from all the major banks. That means if you’re earning points with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, or the American Express® Gold Card, you can easily transfer those points to Virgin – often with a big bonus, making these great deals even better.
While its website and booking process has a few quirks, you’ll want to become familiar with how Virgin Atlantic Flying Club works and all the amazing places you can go for as few points as possible.
- Signing Up with Virgin
- Flying Virgin Atlantic with Virgin Points: High Fees!
- Virgin Atlantic Partners: The Best Way to Use Virgin Points
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Sweet Spots
- Delta One Business Class to Europe for 50K One-Way
- ANA First Class to Japan from 55K One-Way (or 45K in Business)
- Minneapolis to Europe for 30K Roundtrip in Main Cabin
- Nonstop Domestic Flights from 7,500 Points One-Way in Delta Main Cabin
- West Coast to Hawaii from 30K Roundtrip
- Nonstops to Mexico & the Caribbean for Less
- Fly Delta to Japan from 55K Roundtrip
- How to Book Flights with Virgin Points
- How to Earn Virgin Points
Signing Up with Virgin
First things first, you’ll need to sign up for a free Virgin Atlantic Flying Club account. And you’ll want to do it ASAP.
If you’re hoping to put any of the great sweet spots we get into later to use, you’ll want to sign up now. That’s because it can take 24 to 72 hours for Virgin to verify your account, which is required before you can book a flight with Virgin points.
Fortunately, it’s a pretty straightforward process. If you’re just opening a new account, you’ll also be asked to activate and link a Virgin Red account.
Basically, the Flying Club is Virgin Atlantic’s frequent flyer program while Virgin Red is Virgin’s wider rewards program, which includes other Virgin companies such as Virgin Hotels, Virgin Voyages, and more. It’s important to open and link both accounts ahead of time so you are ready to book when a deal comes your way.
Already have a Flying Club account but don’t have Virgin Red? If you’re hoping to transfer Bilt Rewards or Capital One Venture Miles to Virgin, that’s not enough. You’ll need a Virgin Red account, too.
Just head to the Virgin Red homepage and choose the option “Join Virgin Red.” After a quick email verification and some personal details, finalize your enrollment. Immediately, you should be prompted to link your Virgin Red account with your airline account, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
Flying Virgin Atlantic with Virgin Points: High Fees!
If you’re hoping to fly Virgin Atlantic flights using your Virgin points, be prepared to shell out a lot of money in fees.
Not only does Virgin’s hub in London-Heathrow (LHR) have some of the highest departure taxes in the world, but Virgin also charges high fuel surcharges on award tickets when flying Virgin Atlantic itself. This means you’ll often be better off booking Virgin Atlantic flights with partner airline miles, such as Air France-KLM Flying Blue miles, which have lower fees.
The Virgin Atlantic award chart lists reward rates as roundtrip, but flights can be booked one-way for half price. The lowest rates are for travel during what it calls “standard season.” You can find a list of dates for the standard and peak seasons on its website.
While 47,500 points one-way to fly Virgin Atlantic business class from the Northeast US to London sounds amazing, keep in mind that the fees on top of that come to $875. Booking a roundtrip? It’s 95,000 points plus over $2,000 in fees. Ouch.
However, the fees are much lower if you’re flying economy – around $150 one-way or $475 roundtrip. If you’re flying roundtrip, you’ll almost always be better off booking a cash ticket rather than using points. But the one case where you can actually get a good value when redeeming Virgin points for flights on Virgin Atlantic is if you’re just looking for a cheap one-way flight from the U.S. to London.
This won’t be for everyone, but it could be useful if you’re looking to explore more of Europe and don’t know exactly when you want to fly back. Or, if you plan to return from elsewhere in Europe using a different airline’s miles.
Virgin Atlantic Partners: The Best Way to Use Virgin Points
Rather than using Virgin points to fly Virgin Atlantic itself, you’ll get a much better value when redeeming Virgin points to fly one of its partner airlines.
In all, you can currently redeem Virgin points for travel on nine different partner airlines.
- Air France
- Air New Zealand
- All Nippon Airways (ANA)
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- South African Airways
- Virgin Australia
Virgin also partners with Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) and IndiGo, but only for earning Virgin points when you fly those airlines. You won’t be able to redeem Virgin points to fly SAS or IndiGo.
Unlike most other airlines, Virgin Atlantic has separate award charts for each partner airline, meaning the amount of points you’ll need to book varies from carrier to carrier. Some are better than others … but by far, Virgin Atlantic’s best partner airlines are Air France-KLM, ANA, and Delta.
Let’s have a look.
Whether you redeem Virgin points to fly Air France or KLM, the award charts are the same as the airlines are practically one and the same. To find out how many points you need, you’ll want to have a look at the “Long haul spending levels” section and expand the different charts for each class of service.
It can be a bit hard to read, but take note that Eastern U.S. states fall under Zone 6 and Western states are considered Zone 7, which means starting your trip in New York versus Los Angeles, for example, will save you some miles. Western Europe is Zone 1, while Eastern Europe and North Africa are Zone 2. The full breakdown of each zone can be found on Virgin’s website.
Some of the best deals you can get are economy flights during off-peak travel dates. It’s just 12,000 – 15,000 Virgin points each way to most of Western Europe. That bumps up to 20,000 – 23,000 one-way if you’re looking to fly to Eastern Europe or North Africa.
These rates are the same whether you’re flying nonstop to Amsterdam (AMS) or Paris (CDG), or flying with a connection to another city in Europe … or beyond. The rates are pretty amazing, but you’ll get hit with higher-than-average fees when departing from most U.S. cities. The one exception is departures from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), which for some reason doesn’t get hit with fuel surcharges. We’ll take it.
All Nippon Airways (ANA)
Possibly the single best way to use Virgin points – and likely the best deal in the world of points and miles, period – is to redeem them for flights on ANA.
This unique partnership may not last much longer since Virgin Atlantic plans on joining the SkyTeam airline alliance in 2023, so you may want to take advantage while you still can.
Looking at the Virgin points award chart for ANA flights, you can see that it’s possible to fly roundtrip from the West Coast to Japan for as little as 90,000 points in business class or 110,000 in first. Better yet, you can book one-way for half price – ANA doesn’t even let you do that with its own ANA Mileage Club.
These rates only work for nonstop flights on ANA so you’ll need to depart from one of its North American gateways in Chicago (ORD), Honolulu (HNL), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), New York City (JFK), San Francisco (SFO), Seattle (SEA), Vancouver (YVR), or Washington D.C.-Dulles (IAD).
Want to take a connecting flight beyond Japan? You’ll need to add the two separate redemption rates together. This means you’ll want to stick to nonstop flights to Japan for the best deals. The fuel surcharges to fly ANA are currently sky-high but always in flux, and that’s what you’ll pay using Virgin Atlantic to book these flights.
But with the low award rates Virgin charges, you’ll often still come out way ahead.
One of the most common uses when redeeming Virgin points is to fly Delta. In fact, it’s often our favorite way to book Delta flights using points and miles.
It used to be extremely lucrative for flights all around the world, but Virgin devalued awards on most Delta routes in early 2021. The good news is they kept the amazing rates to Europe intact and, even with the devaluation on other routes, there are a few other sweet spots.
For Delta flights to the U.K., Virgin basically mimics the award chart for its own flights but the caveat here is that Virgin charges ridiculous fees to fly Delta to or from the U.K. – even more than what it charges for its own flights.
It’ll cost around $185 one-way or over $540 roundtrip in economy, and much more for Delta One. This is on top of the points you’ll have to shell out. So while it may seem like a small number of points, the cash fees make this a bad deal.
Heading elsewhere in Europe? It’s simple. It’ll cost 30,000 points in economy or just 50,000 points one-way to fly Delta One business class on nonstop flights. Best of all, there are no exorbitant fees when booking Delta flights to the rest of Europe with Virgin points.
For the rest of Delta’s route map, Virgin’s award chart is based on the distance flown. The further you fly, the more it’ll cost. And it charges on a per-segment basis – meaning you’ll typically want to stick to nonstop flights for the best deals.
Need to calculate the distance of your flight? Use the Great Circle Mapper!
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Sweet Spots
Now that you know a bit about how Virgin Atlantic Flying Club prices its award flights, let’s get into some details on the best ways to redeem Virgin points.
Delta One Business Class to Europe for 50K One-Way
It’s a fan favorite for a reason. While Delta typically charges north of 300,000 SkyMiles to fly Delta One across the pond, you can fly Delta One business class to Europe for only 50,000 Virgin points one-way. This works whether you’re flying nonstop from the East Coast, West Coast, or the Midwest. For example, from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Paris (CDG).
Finding the availability for these awards isn’t always the easiest. It tends to come in waves, but Thrifty Traveler Premium+ subscribers are the first to find out when we see award space open up for Delta One seats bookable with Virgin points.
Read our detailed guide on How to Book Delta One Business Class to Europe for Just 50,000 Points!
ANA First Class to Japan from 55K One-Way (or 45K in Business)
The lowest rates are for flights from the West Coast like Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO). The rate jumps up slightly to 60,000 points one-way for departures from the Central and Eastern U.S. like Chicago (ORD) or New York City (JFK). Just looking to fly business class? Those seats can be booked starting from 45,000 points one-way.
This first class deal is a bit of a unicorn. You’ll have to get pretty lucky to find the award availability, but when it’s there, don’t hesitate to book one of the best flying experiences in the world.
Read our full review of ANA First Class from Chicago (ORD) to Tokyo-Haneda (HND)!
Read More: How to Book ANA Flights with Virgin Points
Minneapolis to Europe for 30K Roundtrip in Main Cabin
This is one of our favorite sweet spots in the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club award chart. Flying Air France or KLM economy from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to just about anywhere in Western Europe for 30,000 points roundtrip and under $100 in fees.
This works whether you’re flying nonstop to Amsterdam (AMS) or Paris (CDG), or connections elsewhere such as Barcelona (BCN) or Rome (FCO).
It’s one of the cheapest ways to fly to Europe with points and miles because it combines low rates with low fees. The odd thing about this sweet spot is that it really only works from Minneapolis. If you depart from other cities in the U.S. or Canada, you’ll get hit with cash fees of around $350 or more.
But when flying out of Minneapolis, Virgin isn’t charging the fuel surcharge it does from other cities – meaning cash fees are usually only $80 or so.
Nonstop Domestic Flights from 7,500 Points One-Way in Delta Main Cabin
Looking to stay closer to home? Flying shorter nonstop flights on Delta is also a great sweet spot when redeeming Virgin points.
Flights under 500 miles in distance are only 7,500 points one-way. Going a little further? it’s only 8,500 points one-way for flights between 501 – 1,000 miles. This can oftentimes be a much better deal than using SkyMiles if you’re just looking for a quick flight to or from a major Delta hub – especially considering you’ll always be booking a Main Cabin ticket on Delta when using Virgin points. That means you’ll be able to make changes and choose a seat in advance for free.
West Coast to Hawaii from 30K Roundtrip
Flying nonstop to Hawaii from the West Coast? Flights under 3,000 miles can be booked for 15,000 points one-way or just 30,000 roundtrip.
You may see Delta selling some of these routes from the West Coast for slightly fewer SkyMiles in Delta Basic Economy but you’ll always get a Main Cabin ticket when booking Delta flights with Virgin points. And availability on these shorter nonstop Hawaii routes tends to be fairly good through Virgin.
Even the longer flights from Minneapolis all the way to Honolulu are a solid deal at 45,000 miles roundtrip. Just keep in mind: You have to book nonstop. If you’ve got two segments, Virgin Atlantic will tally up the cost for both segments separately.
Nonstops to Mexico & the Caribbean for Less
Hawaii isn’t the only warm spot you can get to flying Delta using Virgin Atlantic.
Whether you’re looking to get to Mexico City (MEX), Cancún (CUN), Puerto Vallarta (PVR), or somewhere further, you might be able to save some serious SkyMiles by turning to your Virgin Atlantic points instead, thanks to the airline’s distance-based pricing format for these relatively short flights.
For example, while Delta wants 52,000 SkyMiles for these flights from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Cancun and back in January…
… you can book those exact same flights for just 25,000 Virgin Atlantic points – less than half the cost!
And that’s just one example. So long as you can fly nonstop and your destination is less than 3,000 miles away, there are solid savings by looking and booking through Virgin Atlantic.
Fly Delta to Japan from 55K Roundtrip
Another quirky deal to fly Delta using Virgin points is flying nonstop from Seattle (SEA) to Tokyo (HND) for only 55,000 miles roundtrip in economy.
Looking to fly from elsewhere in the U.S.? The rate jumps up depending on the distance of your flight. For instance, it’s 70,000 points roundtrip for nonstop flights from Los Angles (LAX) to Tokyo and 90,000 points nonstop from Atlanta (ATL).
When flying a far distance, you may want to cash in when there is a good transfer bonus, such as a 30% transfer bonus that was available when Japan reopened for tourists. Thrifty Traveler Premium+ subscribers were alerted to flights that could be booked for as little as 43,000 points roundtrip – thanks to a transfer bonus from Chase.
If your flight to Japan requires a connection, you’ll find the best deal by routing on one-stop itineraries through Seattle. This is because the award price will simply be the sum of the two flights. For example, a flight from Las Vegas (LAS) to Tokyo with a stop in Seattle would cost 72,000 miles roundtrip. If you were to route through Los Angeles instead, it would cost more.
How to Book Flights with Virgin Points
The savings are undeniable when booking with Virgin points but it’s not always easy to book.
Virgin’s website can be a bit wonky and it recently removed its handy price calendar from plain view. But don’t worry … there’s a trick to using Virgin’s price calendar and we’ll walk you through some of the quirks when booking flights with Virgin points.
First, start your search from Virgin’s booking page and expand the “Advanced search” settings. It will be easiest to search one way at a time. Choose to show the price in “Points” and select the total number of passengers traveling. Looking for business class seats? Choose “Upper Class.”
It can be difficult to pull up the routes you want because the search engine frequently won’t recognize airports that aren’t in Virgin’s route network. Sometimes you’ll have to click “See full airport list” to choose your airport.
Other times, you may notice that the option to choose “Points” is greyed out when searching certain routes – and you’re unable to select it.
Luckily, there are a few workarounds. The easiest is to choose the airport from the”full airport list” rather than typing in the code and selecting it from the results.
You’ll then be able to select the airport from a large list of airports.
If you run into this issue, choosing your airport this way should make the “Points” option selectable on the search page.
After searching, if there is nothing available within three days before or after the exact date you’re searching, you’ll get an error message. That means you’ll need to try searching for a different week. Unfortunately, this hit-or-miss game is what’s required to find the award space you want.
Once you find a week where there is at least one date available, you’ll get a one-week view of fares. Success!
From this screen, you used to be able to click on text that said “Price Calendar” next to the “Flexible Dates” text in order to view fares over a monthly calendar. That’s gone now … but don’t worry: You can simply edit the URL in the address bar at the top of your browser. Look for the words “flexible-dates” in the address bar.
You’ll just need to replace the word “dates” with “calendar” to get the Price Calendar to pull up. Simply type this in and hit enter or return on your keyboard. You can then easily navigate between months by using the arrows on the sides.
If you end up navigating to a month where there is no availability throughout the entire month, you’ll be brought back to the search page with an error message. This means you’ll either need to adjust your search parameters or try different dates.
Once you do find availability that works, repeat the process for your return flight and then conduct a new search to book the flights roundtrip. This is important for international flights because roundtrip bookings originating in the U.S. will have lower taxes than booking two separate one-way flights. Flying into one city and back from another? Use the multi-city search tool to book once you’ve pinpointed available dates.
How to Earn Virgin Points
Virgin points are some of the easiest to earn since you can instantly transfer points to Virgin at a 1:1 ratio from all major transferrable points programs.
If you’re earning Amex Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One Venture Miles, and Citi ThankYou points, those can be transferred to Virgin. And if you’re earning points on rent, you can also transfer Bilt Rewards. Just beware that with both Bilt and Capital One, you’ll actually transfer points to your Virgin Red account – check out our walkthrough of how to do it!
If you’re just starting out with points and miles, we consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card the best travel rewards credit card for beginners. Currently, you can earn a welcome bonus of 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. And with 3x points per dollar spent for dining and 2x points for travel purchases, it’s really easy to rack up a ton of Chase points that can be instantly transferred to Virgin points.
Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is loaded with benefits such as access to Capital One Lounges and Priority Pass lounges, a $300 annual travel credit, a credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, great travel and rental car insurance protection, and more. The annual fee clocks in at $395 a year, but the benefits can easily outweigh that.
The best part is that you can currently earn 75,000 Venture Miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Considering you earn at least 2x for every dollar you spend on the Venture X Card, you’ll earn a total of at least 83,000 Venture Miles, which can be transferred instantly to 83,000 Virgin points. That alone is enough to fly Delta One business class to Europe from anywhere in the U.S.
Click Here to learn more about the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.
The American Express® Gold Card is currently offering a 60,000-point welcome bonus after spending $4,000 in the first six months. Better yet, you may be able to qualify for a whopping 75,000-point welcome bonus using CardMatch – or even find a 90,000-point bonus if you’re lucky!
Beyond that bonus, this card is easily one of the best all-around travel cards on the market thanks largely to an unbeatable 4x return on an unlimited amount of spending at restaurants and 4x points on up to $25,000 a year spent at U.S. supermarkets – and 1x points after that.
Click Here to learn more about the American Express Gold Card.
The Citi Premier® Card is another great way to earn points that can be transferred to Virgin points. You’ll earn 3x points at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, and for travel booked with the card. Plus, there is a 60,000-point bonus after spending $4,000 within the first three months.
Click Here to learn more about the Citi Premier® Card.
With several sweet spots and easy-to-earn points, the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club can be one of the most valuable mileage programs out there – especially when using Virgin points to fly Delta.
The website may have its quirks but once you get the hang of it and know where the value lies, you’ll unlock some incredible savings when booking flights with Virgin points.