Guide to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Earn and redeem points for maximum value - The Points Guy (2024)

Years after diving into the points and miles world, you may not realize that a loyalty program you had overlooked could have been one of your most powerful tools.

I didn't look closely at Virgin Atlantic's loyalty program for a long time because I didn't immediately see it playing into my travel rewards strategy, but Virgin Atlantic offers something enticing: attractive partner award charts, a rarity among other airline programs nowadays.

Despite changes to Virgin Atlantic's partner award charts, Virgin points currently stand out for offering incredible value with many uses.

Let's go over the basics of Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and show you the sweet spots that make Virgin points so valuable.

How to earn Virgin points

Guide to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Earn and redeem points for maximum value - The Points Guy (1)

There are four primary ways to earn Virgin points directly.

Flying

You can certainly still earn points the old-fashioned way by flying.

If you're flying on Virgin Atlantic, you can use the airline's earning calculator to determine how many points you'll earn for your flight. If you're flying one of the carrier's partners, such as Delta Air Lines, Air France or Hawaiian Airlines, you can opt to earn Virgin points by adding your Flying Club membership number to your reservation. Virgin Atlantic is now a member of the SkyTeam alliance.

You can check your operating carrier and fare class on Where to Credit for the best option for your flight.

Credit card rewards

You can earn Virgin Points directly through the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®.

Guide to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Earn and redeem points for maximum value - The Points Guy (2)

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The information for the Virgin Atlantic Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

However, it's easy to boost your Virgin points balance with the right credit card, as Flying Club is a transfer partner of every major transferable point currency, including:

  • American Express Membership Rewards (1:1)
  • Bilt Rewards (1:1)
  • Capital One (1:1)
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards (1:1)
  • Citi ThankYou Rewards (1:1)
  • Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 with a 5,000-point bonus for transferring 60,000 points and a 48-hour transfer time)

Some of the above programs offer regular transfer bonuses to Flying Club, meaning you might need even fewer points than you first thought.

Guide to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Earn and redeem points for maximum value - The Points Guy (3)

Many of these programs offer cards that feature terrific welcome bonuses. Here's just a sample of the travel rewards credit cards that earn these transferable points that can be converted to Virgin points:

  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • American Express® Gold Card
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
  • Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Points Booster

If you've flown a Virgin Atlantic-operated flight — whether you paid cash or points for it — you can use Flying Club's Points Booster to score extra points for cheap. You can usually pay 0.01 British pounds (or $0.013) per point, but the program periodically offers bonus promotions.

You can even use the Points Booster for flights you have already taken up to six months back.

Other earning partners

There are several partners through which you can earn Virgin points by shopping or traveling:

  • Car rental partners: Virgin Atlantic partners with Avis, Alamo, Enterprise, Hertz, National and Sixt to let members earn Virgin points.
  • Heathrow Rewards: You can earn points for shopping or parking at London's Heathrow Airport (LHR) and transfer them to Flying Club.
  • Rocketmiles: You can earn between 500 and 10,000 Virgin points per night for booking hotels through Rocketmiles.
  • Shops Away: Earn Virgin points by making purchases at over 1,000 retailers through Virgin Atlantic's shopping portal.
  • The Virgin Group: From Virgin Hotels to luxury Virgin properties, you can earn Virgin points through several Virgin Group partners.

Related: The beginners guide to airline shopping portals

Virgin Atlantic award chart

The award prices Virgin Atlantic charges are reasonable. Here are the round-trip prices you can expect during the standard (i.e., off-peak) season.

Guide to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Earn and redeem points for maximum value - The Points Guy (4)

If you want to stretch your points further, consider booking travel during the following (off-peak) standard season dates:

Standard season datesCaribbean and Indian Ocean standard season dates
Jan. 4 to March 21, 2024March 4 to 21, 2024
April 16 to June 15, 2024April 19 to May 26, 2024
Sept. 5 to Oct. 24, 2024June 3 to July 19, 2024
Nov. 6 to Dec. 6, 2024Sept. 3 to Oct. 24, 2024
Nov. 6 to Dec. 6, 2024

Round-trip prices increase during the peak season.

Guide to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Earn and redeem points for maximum value - The Points Guy (5)

Here's the complete list of peak travel dates to be aware of:

Peak season datesCaribbean and Indian Ocean peak season dates
Jan. 1 to 3, 2024Jan. 1 to March 3, 2024
March 22 to April 15, 2024March 22 to April 15, 2024
June 16 to Sept. 2, 2024May 27 to June 2, 2024
Oct. 25 to Nov. 5, 2024July 20 to Sept. 2, 2024
Dec. 7, 2024, to Jan. 5, 2025Oct. 25 to Nov. 5, 2024
Dec. 7, 2024, to March 2, 2025

The value you may save by spending relatively few points (i.e., 20,000 round-trip itineraries between the East Coast and the United Kingdom) you will lose on the outrageous carrier surcharges Virgin Atlantic tacks onto award flights. Round-trip flights between the U.S. and the U.K. usually cost $450 for economy flights. Meanwhile, Upper Class seats (Virgin Atlantic's business class) could have well over $2,000 in fees round trip.

Related: How to avoid fuel surcharges on award travel

Virgin regularly discounts the number of points required for Virgin-operated flights by 20% to 50% during its Promo Awards offers, though, unfortunately, the fees, taxes and carrier surcharges are not discounted.

There are plenty of occasions where you may find paid tickets for less than these fuel surcharges, especially if you aren't fussy about the operating carrier. Your points won't save you money in these scenarios. Even nonstop cash fares in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class are readily available for under $3,000 round trip, so always check tickets before committing to those high surcharges.

Guide to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Earn and redeem points for maximum value - The Points Guy (6)

Booking one-way award flights instead of round trips will often reduce the taxes and fees on award flights, potentially by hundreds of dollars. You may also benefit from booking Virgin Atlantic flights to London but not from London. Fees tend to be higher for flights departing London thanks to government-imposed surcharges, so if you've got another award currency you can use for your return flight, go with that.

Related: Save money on Virgin Atlantic award tickets by booking one-way flights

Flying Club airline partners

Guide to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Earn and redeem points for maximum value - The Points Guy (7)

The real magic of Virgin points lies in partner award charts thanks to nearly two dozen additional airlines to book with your rewards.

Virgin Atlantic joined the SkyTeam alliance earlier this year. With the current exceptions of China Eastern (coming later in 2024, according to Virgin Atlantic), you can now redeem Virgin points on all SkyTeam airlines, including recently added ITA Airways.

Redemptions on SkyTeam airlines are distance-based. Excluding flights operated by Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines, you will need the following Virgin points each way per person on all dates (no peak/off-peak pricing):

Flight distance (miles)EconomyPremium economyBusiness
0-5005,5009,00014,500
501-1,0007,00012,50015,500
1,001-1,50010,00016,00021,500
1,501-2,25011,50022,00035,000
2,251-3,00015,50026,50040,000
3,001-4,00020,50037,50060,000
4,001-5,00025,50047,50075,000
5,001-6,00031,00057,50085,000
6,001-7,00037,00070,000100,000
7,001-12,00050,00095,000140,000

You can only redeem Air France-KLM, Delta Air Lines, China Airlines, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, ITA Airways and Xiamen Air online.

Virgin uses three different Delta award charts on its website:

  • U.S. to U.K. nonstop flights (note availability in premium cabins is very rare)
  • U.S. to Europe (excluding the U.K.) nonstop flights (note availability in premium cabins is very rare)
  • All other Delta award flights

While there are some sharp increases for redemption prices in 2024, Flying Club will still charge fewer points than Delta's SkyMiles program may charge for the same flights thanks to SkyMiles' dynamic pricing. Therefore, it is worth checking the prices of both programs where you have transferable credit card points, as there is still value to be had.

Partner redemption charts do not include first class. This means you can't redeem your Virgin points for SkyTeam airlines that offer first class, including Garuda Indonesia, Korean Air, Saudia and Xiamen.

Air France also offers first class but restricts redemptions to elite members of its own Flying Blue program.

In addition to the 16 SkyTeam airlines you can redeem your Virgin points with, you can also book award flights with the following airlines using Virgin points:

You can also earn Virgin points — but not redeem them — with partners Scandinavian Airlines, IndiGo and LATAM.

Each non-SkyTeam partner has a different award chart. Some are distance-based, and others are zone-based, so each airline can have different terms and conditions. You must call Virgin Atlantic at 800-365-9500 to book award tickets for carriers that do not appear online.

However, you can still search for availability on other websites. For example, the United Airlines website is excellent for finding available seats on Star Alliance carriers. Once you find what you want, note the travel dates and flight numbers. Then, call Virgin Atlantic and feed that information to the customer service representative.

Related: How to book Delta award flights with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points

Best uses of Virgin points

Guide to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Earn and redeem points for maximum value - The Points Guy (8)

With 23 different airline partners, these are the best ways to use your Virgin points.

SkyTeam airlines

If you want to fly from North America to Europe, try finding Air France-KLM availability. This is because you will need fewer Virgin points than other SkyTeam airlines require.

SkyTeam is strong in Asia, with members like Korean Air, China Airlines, Vietnam Airlines and Xiamen Air flying nonstop between the U.S. and Asia. You can fly from the West Coast to Korea with Korean Air in business class for 85,000 Virgin points each way, plus fees, taxes and surcharges. This is a decent redemption, though see below for the fantastic ANA sweet spot to Japan.

Remember, Virgin charges per segment, not per journey, so if you are connecting on, say, China Airlines from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) through to Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) in Bangkok via Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) in Taipei, you would be charged a whopping 160,000 points each way in business class, which is not a great redemption.

So, when redeeming on SkyTeam airlines, aim for direct flights and minimize connections to save points.

Guide to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Earn and redeem points for maximum value - The Points Guy (9)

All Nippon Airways

Virgin Atlantic's incredible redemption rates for ANA-operated flights should always be considered if you want to get between the U.S. and Japan. This route is one of the best award travel sweet spots and likely the single best use of Virgin points — even with this year's devaluation of first-class pricing.

Related: The new gold standard: Review of The Room, ANA's new business class on the Boeing 777-300ER

Take a look at Virgin Atlantic's award chart for ANA flights. These prices are for round-trip travel. Open-jaw bookings are allowed, so you can check award availability on other routes if your preferred route isn't available. It's also worth noting that you can book one-way awards for half the round-trip ticket cost.

Guide to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Earn and redeem points for maximum value - The Points Guy (10)

If you were to book a round-trip, first-class seat to Japan in one of ANA's fancy suite seats, you'd spend just 170,000 points for a seat costing $20,000 or more. Business class is also an excellent deal at just 95,000 points.

It's also worth noting that round-trip award flights are incredibly cheap for infants under 2 years old who don't need a seat of their own:

  • Economy seats cost 2,000 points.
  • Business-class seats cost 10,000 points.
  • First-class seats cost 14,000 points.

Air France-KLM

Virgin Atlantic has several award charts for both KLM and Air France. You can visit this page to see them all. It divides the world into 10 zones and calculates your award price based on your origin and destination zones. Here are some highlights from the U.S.:

  • One-way economy flight to Europe from the West Coast for 15,000 points
  • One-way economy flight to the Middle East from the East Coast for 25,000 points
  • One-way business-class flight to Europe from the East Coast for 48,500 points
  • One-way business-class flight from the East Coast to North Africa for 66,500 points

You'll often incur fuel surcharges for your flights, but they're not nearly as high as for Virgin Atlantic awards. In my experience, surcharges are just under $300 for a one-way business-class ticket from the U.S. to Europe, making Air France-KLM a cheaper option for business-class redemptions to Europe.

Guide to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Earn and redeem points for maximum value - The Points Guy (11)

Virgin Australia

The Virgin Atlantic award chart for Virgin Australia flights is mostly distance-based, meaning it could be a good value for short and expensive intra-Australia flights, as flights start from just 8,000 Virgin points each way.

This current award chart indicates that you can now only book economy seats. However, it does price infant rewards at 2,000 points in economy and 10,000 points in business class. You may have to reach out to Virgin Atlantic when booking your flight to learn the business-class price of your route.

Less valuable Flying Club partners

Guide to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Earn and redeem points for maximum value - The Points Guy (12)

While having a long list of earning and redemption partners is great, some key partners don't provide much redemption value for Flying Club members.

  • Air New Zealand: Releases virtually no award space to partners like Virgin Atlantic.
  • Delta Air Lines: Typically only releases economy-class space to Virgin Atlantic.
  • Singapore Airlines: Only allows a limited number of routes to redeem Virgin points on, and you can only redeem in economy.
  • Hawaiian Airlines: Requires rates similar to Hawaiian Airlines and JetBlue, so there's little reason to book with Virgin points.

Unique Virgin points redemptions

If you find yourself with hundreds of thousands (or millions) of Virgin points, you can trade them in for an extraordinary level of luxury — or altitude:

  • Virgin Voyages: Watch for occasional discounted cruises where you can sail up to 12 nights for as little as 80,000 Virgin points.
  • Necker Island: Stay at Richard Branson's private island home for four nights for 540,000 Virgin points, plus $5,400.
  • Mont Rochelle: Stay at Branson's Cape Town winery for three nights for between 120,000 and 200,000 Virgin points.
  • Kasbah Tamadot: Spend three nights in Branson's Atlas Mountain retreat in Morocco for between 240,000 and 280,000 Virgin points.
  • The Lodge: Stay three nights in one bedroom of Branson's nine-bedroom Swiss Alpine resort for 380,000 Virgin points.
  • Mahali Mzuri: Spend three nights in a luxury tent at a Kenyan safari camp for 600,000 Virgin points or five nights for 950,000 Virgin points.
  • Ulusaba Private Game Reserve: Use 600,000 Virgin points for a three-night stay for two people in a Safari Lodge room or 950,000 Virgin points for a five-night stay for two people in a Safari Lodge room.

Or, you can enter a raffle for a chance to fly in space on Virgin Galactic for a cool 2,000,000 Virgin points — but all of those points must have been earned from Virgin Atlantic flights.

How to redeem Virgin points

Now that you know why you should care about Virgin points, let's show you how to redeem them for award flights. You can easily search for seats on Virgin Atlantic's homepage. Just click "Advanced Search" and select the "Points" option.

You'll then be shown availability on the date you selected and three days on either side.

Guide to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Earn and redeem points for maximum value - The Points Guy (13)

Where there is more than one flight available on your selected day, you can choose the schedule and carrier that suits your needs and then proceed to book online, paying fees, taxes and surcharges simultaneously.

There is also a handy Reward seat availability checker by month for Virgin Atlantic- and Delta-operated flights.

Guide to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Earn and redeem points for maximum value - The Points Guy (14)

Guide to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Earn and redeem points for maximum value - The Points Guy (15)

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Regarding partner award searches, the Virgin Atlantic website can fall short. Virgin Atlantic only allows you to search award flights to or from airports loaded into its system — and many of its partners aren't bookable online.

If you can't find what you're looking for, head to another website that does show availability for that airline. For example, the United Airlines site shows Singapore Airlines and ANA flights. Once you find what you're after, copy the flight information and travel date and call Virgin Atlantic to book.

The small print

Guide to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Earn and redeem points for maximum value - The Points Guy (16)

Travelers can change their travel date, routing and/or class of service before travel for a service fee of just $50 (plus mileage difference, if applicable) for flights originating in the U.S.

You can cancel your ticket and receive all your points back for a cancellation fee of $50 for flights originating in the U.S. as long as you cancel at least 24 hours before departure. Once you're within 24 hours, points become nonrefundable.

Flying Club prices one-way awards at half of the award chart price for most partners. This includes ANA flights, which used to require round-trip bookings.

If you can't find award availability both ways on the route you want, you can book an open-jaw award — which means you're flying into or out of a different airport on your return leg. There's no penalty for doing this, and the mileage prices out as half of the round-trip cost for each of the two legs booked.

Bottom line

Virgin Atlantic is intricate — and some of its luster has disappeared after devaluations and diminishing availability from its partners. However, the program is still highly valuable for international travel, particularly for flying ANA, Air France or KLM in premium cabins when you can find availability.

The addition of SkyTeam partners also gives attractive redemption opportunities. Additionally, because the program has so many transfer partners, its points are easy to earn. Therefore, this loyalty program should not be overlooked.

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

Guide to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Earn and redeem points for maximum value - The Points Guy (2024)

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