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Virgin Atlantic is selling miles through the end of the week and in this sale it’s offering the highest bonus that we generally see the airline offer and it has raised the limit on the number of miles that Flying Club members can buy during a calendar year. If you need to top up your account or if you want to book one of the best deals in the miles and points world (more on that later) this is probably the time to do it.
The Virgin Atlantic Miles Sale
There are 5 tiers to the latest Virgin Atlantic miles sale and this is what they look like:
- Buy 1,000 – 4,000 miles – 0% bonus
- Buy 5,000 – 9,000 miles – 15% bonus
- Buy 10,000 – 29,000 miles – 20% bonus
- Buy 30,000 – 69,000 miles – 30% bonus
- Buy 70,000 – 100,000 miles – 40% bonus
- Buy 101,000 – 150,000 miles – 40% bonus
- Buy Miles purchases must be made by 16 February 2020
- Up to 50% bonus is only available on miles purchases up to 150,000.
- Bonus miles will be credited upon completion of purchase.
- Offer subject to change.
- All other Flying Club Terms and Conditions apply.
My Virgin Atlantic Flying Club account is UK-based (you’ll see why in a moment) so I don’t have access to the US prices or tiers…but I can make an educated guess what US members are offered based on past sales.
US Flying Club members can check to see their pricing via this link.Buy Virgin Miles
As far as UK Virgin Atlantic Flying Club accounts go this is what you’ll need to know:
Because Virgin Atlantic adds a £15 ‘handling fee’ to every transaction the cost per mile will vary depending on the bonus on offer and the number of miles you’re buying – the more miles you buy the less you pay per mile.
If you were to buy the maximum number of miles this sale allows you to buy it would cost £2,265 and you would net 225,000 miles:
225,000 miles at a cost of £2,265 works out to a cost/mile of £0.0101.
Based on historical prices and on the fact that Virgin Atlantic has kept UK pricing the same as in previous sales (so US pricing probably hasn’t changed either), US-based accounts will probably be able to buy the full 225,000 miles at a cost of $4,075.
225,000 miles at a cost of $4,075 works out to a cost/mile of ~$0.0181
Buying Virgin miles from a UK-based account is considerably cheaper (and that’s why I keep my account based in the UK!).
Is It Worth Buying Miles In This Sale
If you don’t have a plan for how to use the miles you shouldn’t be buying miles at all – stockpiling miles in the hope of using them down the line is a bad idea as you never know when a loyalty program will devalue its offering.
Personally, I don’t like using Virgin Atlantic Miles for travel on Virgin Atlantic (with one exception) because of the high surcharges that the airline chooses to add to award bookings….but I LOVE using them for premium cabin awards on ANA.
ANA has recently started rolling out a brand new Business Class cabin (the Room) and even though I have yet to try out this product (I may use miles from this sale to book it) I’m pretty sure that it’s the best Business Class seat in the world. Yes, better than the Qatar Airways Qsuite.
So how do you use Virgin Atlantic miles to book such an amazing product? With ease.
The Virgin Atlantic ANA award chart is a region-based chart and looks like this:
The mileage costs shown are for roundtrip travel as ANA one-way awards are not bookable with Virgin Flying Club miles (open-jaws are allowed too).
These are the highlights in this award chart:
- Europe to Tokyo: 95,000 miles/120,000 miles (Business Class/First Class)
- New York to Tokyo: 95,000 miles/120,000 miles
- Los Angeles to Tokyo: 90,000 miles/110,000 miles
The current Virgin Atlantic sale allows you to buy enough miles for any of those awards and this is how much those awards will cost (assuming you buy miles in this sale at £0.0101 each (UK) or $0.0181 (USA)).
Business Class Fares (UK pricing/USA pricing)
- Europe to Tokyo: ~£960/$1,720 + taxes & fees
- New York to Tokyo: ~£960/$1,720 + taxes & fees
- Los Angeles to Tokyo: £909/$1,629 + taxes & fees
First Class Fares (UK pricing/USA pricing)
- Europe to Tokyo: £1,212/$2,172 + taxes & fees
- New York to Tokyo: £1,212/$2,172 + taxes & fees
- Los Angeles to Tokyo: £1,111/$1,991 + taxes & fees
If you’re buying Virgin Atlantic miles in GBP these fares are mind-blowingly good and even if you’re forced to suffer the higher USD pricing it’s hard to think of may better deals in the miles and points world.
Yes, the taxes and fees will have to be factored in but, as I’ll in a moment, they’re not something to worry too much about.
When you consider that it costs 135,000 – 155,000 Flying Club miles to fly round trip between the West Coast and Europe in Business Class on Virgin Atlantic or Delta these ANA awards look amazing.
Sadly it’s not all good news. There’s a downside to Virgin using a region-based award chart for ANA redemptions.
Per Virgin Atlantic:
Take New York – Japan – South Korea in Business Class as an example. To book this with Virgin Flying Club miles will take two award bookings:
First, you have to book the New York – Japan segments for 95,000 miles and then you have to book the Japan – South Korea segments for a further 35,000 miles.
The total roundtrip cost is 130,000 miles and that’s not such a great deal anymore – the best deals to be had are on non-stop routings.
It’s impossible to write about booking awards through the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club without discussing surcharges….so here goes.
Virgin Atlantic loves to add surcharges to their awards and unfortunately, this extends to Virgin awards booked on ANA too.
The good news is that, unlike the surcharges added to awards for flights on Virgin or Delta, the surcharges on ANA awards aren’t horrendous.
I use the Matrix flight search tool to estimate (quite accurately most of the time) how much the surcharges should be and you should be aware that the surcharges will vary (often significantly) depending on the departure point.
A London – Tokyo roundtrip Business Class flight would attract approximately £370/$480 in taxes and fees:
A Paris – Tokyo roundtrip Business Class flight would attract approximately £236/$306 in taxes and fees:
And a Los Angeles – Tokyo roundtrip Business Class flight would attract approximately £210/$273 in taxes and fees:
The fares you’re seeing are actual cash fares that I’ve selected randomly but the charges inside the red rectangles represent all the taxes and fees you can expect to pay on an award with the same itinerary.
If you’re buying Virgin miles for a UK account even the high surcharges out of London aren’t enough to make these awards a poor deal and, even if you’re buying for a US-based account, it’s hard to argue against paying ~$1,900 for a roundtrip Business Class fare between LA and Tokyo or ~$2,265 for ANA First Class between New York and Tokyo.
Searching For & Booking ANA Awards
You can’t book ANA awards via Virgin Atlantic’s website nor can you search for them so you have to look to other Star Alliance airline sites for help….but don’t buy any miles until you’ve checked that award are actually available for the dates you can fly.
I find ANA’s website a bit clunky so my go-to sites are Aeroplan or United.com which are both easy to use and quite reliable when it comes to showing true award availability.
Once you’ve found an award you’d like to book you’ll have to call up your local Virgin Atlantic reservations line who should be able to book your chosen itinerary.
Virgin Atlantic sells its miles through Points.com so there’s no scope to earn a travel/flight/airline bonus by using a credit card that offers bonus points for shopping in one of those categories (e.g. the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, the Amex Green Card or the Platinum Card from American Express)
What this means is that this is a good opportunity to use a credit card on which you’re working towards a welcome bonus or to use a credit card that earns you more than a point/dollar in a valuable currency (e.g. the Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express) or even a good cashback card (one that earns 2% or more).
I don’t like using Flying Club miles for awards on Virgin Atlantic because of the high number of miles needed and because of the surcharges imposed. I’m also not a big fan of using Virgin Flying Club miles for flights on Delta because, despite the fact that some awards cost fewer Flying Club Miles than SkyMiles, I find the surcharges unpalatable….but award bookings on ANA are a whole other story.
Using Flying Club Miles for premium cabin award bookings on ANA can be a fantastic use of Flying Club Miles and the current 40% bonus that Virgin Atlantic is currently offering when you buy miles makes some of these awards look very attractive indeed.