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Another One: Virgin Atlantic is Raising ANA Biz Class Award Rates

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Just over a year ago, Virgin Atlantic nuked one of the world’s best points and miles redemptions by raising award rates to book ANA first class between the U.S. and Japan by up to 40% … while leaving stellar business class rates untouched.

Now Virgin is coming back to finish the job.

With virtually no warning, Virgin Atlantic quietly updated its ANA award chart Wednesday evening, raising award rates to book ANA business class by up to 25% or more:

  • Flights from West Coast cities like Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), or Seattle (SEA) to to Japan will jump from 45,000 points each way to 52,500 points – a 16% hike
  • Longer flights from cities like Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) and New York City (JFK) will cost 60,000 points each way – up from the current 47,500-mile rate, a 26% increase
  • Even shorter flights from Honolulu (HNL) in ANA business class will see an increase, from 35,000 points each way to 37,500 points each way

Here's the new award chart, which lists roundtrip prices for ANA redemptions – just divide them in half for one-way rates. While economy will remain untouched, business class is shooting up.

 

ana virgin award chart

 

Here’s the worst part: These changes take effect Thursday, May 23. This latest devaluation is rolled out with virtually zero notice, giving travelers with a stash of Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points (or transferable credit card points from banks like Chase, Amex, or Capital One) no chance to book a bucket-list trip to Japan before it costs them more points.

Any overnight award rate increase like this always hurts. When it makes it harder to book something as spectacular as ANA's new “The Room” business class suites flying between the states and Tokyo – easily among the world's best business class seats – it's even more painful. 

 

business class mileage programs

 

Read our full review of the ANA Room business class from Chicago to Tokyo!

Yet even after these increases, Virgin Atlantic will still remain one of the best ways to book ANA business class – or any lie-flat seat to Japan, for that matter.

After its own recent devaluation, booking through ANA's own Mileage Club now costs at least 100,000 miles roundtrip … and you have to book roundtrip. The ability to book one-ways using Virgin Atlantic could easily give that program an edge, despite these hikes. And compared to using 110,000 United miles each way to book ANA business class, Virgin Atlantic remains a steal.

And it certainly doesn't hurt that Virgin points are incredibly easy to earn.

Virgin Atlantic is a transfer partner of ChaseAmerican ExpressCapital OneCiti, and even Bilt Rewards. Plus, regular transfer bonuses from those credit card programs – like an ongoing 30% bonus to Virgin from both Chase and Amex, too – can soften the blow even more.

 

travel credit cards in a wallet

 

That might be part of the problem. As Americans have piled up points in record numbers, these kinds of devaluations have only accelerated. In just the last few months we've seen similar award rate increases from Turkish Airlines, ANA Mileage Club, and other valuable airline programs. Sweet spots like this one are increasingly going a bit sour.

Read more: Sick of Your Airlines Miles Losing Value? Blame the Banks

And the award rate is only half the equation – you need to find award availability to actually book ANA business class at these low rates … and that's no sure thing. 

These days, finding award availability for these seats can be a real chore. Whether you book through Virgin Atlantic, another Star Alliance partner program, or ANA Mileage Club itself, the airline typically only releases business class awards just two weeks before departure, and sometimes even closer. You really need to procrastinate to pull this off. 

Every once in a while, though, the floodgates open. And when it happens, we alert our Thrifty Traveler Premium members.

ANA Business class Virgin

 

With virtually no notice, those same seats will cost you more points. And no matter how many points you need, it's still a fairly convoluted process to actually book these ANA flights through Virgin Atlantic. As always, you'll need to pick up the phone and call Virgin Atlantic at 1-800-365-9500 to book once you've found availability.

 

Bottom Line

It's been looming for months. It's finally happening.

Without warning, Virgin Atlantic raised award rates to book ANA business class by as much as 26%. It could have been much worse … but this one still hurts.

 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

4 Responses

  • Still a great deal! Unfortunately, the walls are crumbling around us. This is a scary situation. We just don’t know how weak the walls are.

  • I’m SOOO glad I jumped on this when I could, as I knew it was coming! When you posted the article about the devaluation in F last year, I hurriedly booked a seat in J knowing that it was only a matter of time. Surprisingly, I got a late equipment swap from the old product to “The Room”, and subsequently flew it on 31 January (same route ORD-HND)! Now I can look back at that amazing experience with satisfaction that I paid a net 36,540 points for that flight. Something I always emphasize to points/miles beginners is to “don’t let Perfect be the enemy of Good”; use the current points inflation AND transfer bonuses to your advantage before the market catches up like in this instance. Some people sit on their hands waiting for the immaculate redemption that will never come.

  • Keep calling every double digit devaluation a great deal and the airlines and hotels will keep on devaluing.

  • We all knew this would happen! The incredible flow of Chase Ink points into just about every hobbyists’ wallet, is what is causing these devaluations. People having 400-500K of new points is very inflationary! I have gotten to the point of giving up. But, I’ll make a prediction-Hyatt is going to devalue more this Jan. 1 than they have ever done in the past!

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