Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is holding a Reward Seat Sale and they’re doing a particularly bad job of advertising it. The promotion doesn’t appear anywhere on the Virgin Atlantic homepage, it doesn’t appear anywhere on the Flying Club page, as a Virgin Atlantic Flying Club member I’ve yet to receive an email informing me that the Reward Seat Sale is on and, even if you go to the Virgin Atlantic “spend miles” page, it’s pretty easy to miss….
It’s almost like they don’t want us to know about it!
The Virgin Atlantic Reward Seat Sale
The terms of the sale are simple:
Book an Economy or a Premium Economy reward flight between 10 February and 24 February 2016 for 30% fewer miles.
[A]s a special extra, you’ll also earn an additional 30% bonus miles if you top up with Buy Miles or Miles Booster by 9 March 2016.
Virgin Atlantic runs a distance based award chart not dissimilar to the one British Airways uses so, the further you want to fly, the more Flying Club Miles you’ll have to use.
Example Economy Class redemptions with the 30% discount (one way):
- UK – Boston – 12,250 Flying Club miles
- UK – New York – 12,250 Flying Club miles
- UK – Orlando – 14,875 Flying Club Miles
- UK – Dubai – 13,475 Flying Club Miles
- UK – Las Vegas – 14,865 Flying Club Miles
- UK – California – 14,865 Flying Club Miles
Example Premium Economy Class redemptions with the 30% discount (one way):
- UK – New York – 19,250 Flying Club miles
- UK – Miami – 24,500 Flying Club Miles
- UK – Las Vegas – 24,500 Flying Club Miles
- UK – California – 24,500 Flying Club Miles
- UK – Barbados – 24,500 Flying Club Miles
- UK – Hong Kong – 28,000 Flying Club Miles
To see the full Virgin Atlantic “Spend miles” table click on the thumbnail below – miles shown are for round trip travel and do not included the 30% discount.
Is It Worth It
I’m not a big fan of using miles for non-premium class travel but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a time and a place for such awards – and this could be one of those times.
The value of any awards on Virgin Atlantic are always going to be dependent on the taxes and fees you have to pay alongside the miles you hand over – and on Virgin these aren’t low.
A return trip between London And Los Angeles in Economy Class will cost 29,750 miles & the best part of £260/$380 in taxes and fees:
The same flights in Premium Economy Class will set you back 49,000 miles and £372/$540 in taxes and fees:
If you were to book those flights with cash for the same dates…..
- Economy Class – £607/$880
- Premium Economy Class – £953/$1,380
- By using Flying Club miles for Economy Class travel, you would be “saving” £347/$503 per person (valuing your miles at 1.16p/1.69c each)
- By using Flying Club miles for Premium Economy Class travel, you would be “saving” £581/$842 per person (valuing your miles at 1.19p/1.72c each)
These valuations are just indicative as they will vary depending on the cash price of the ticket but they should give you an idea as to what your miles are buying you.
I value Virgin Flying Club Miles somewhere around 0.60p/0.9c each so both of the redemptions I’ve set out above are good value for me. On top of that we also need to see the bigger picture – there are some real cash saving to be had here.
A lot of people are miles “rich” and cash “not so rich” so using miles can be a very effective way of saving money on a family vacation…and the value you’re getting out of your miles isn’t that important in these circumstances. Using the example above, a family of 4 could save over £1,000/$1,450 by booking using miles (subject to award availability) and that will go a long way to paying for accommodation/food/whatever else they need.
UK Air Passenger Duty (APD) & Kids
All the taxes and fees I’ve shown in my illustrations above are for Adult tickets. From 1 March 2016, UK APD no longer applies to passengers aged between 12 -15 travelling in Economy Class and Virgin Atlantic is still updating its systems to reflect this.
This means that, at the time of booking, you will be charged APD on a child fare but will have the tax refunded to you before your flight.
What you’ll get back:
UK APD for passengers aged 12 years or over, departing the UK in Economy before 1 March 2016, is £71 and this is what Virgin Atlantic will still charge you, as things stand, even if your flight is after 1 March 2016 (children under the age of 12 already travel free of APD).
So, if you’re booking flights that include children between the ages of 12 and 15 you should receive back £71/per child on to the credit/debit card you use for the transaction.
I’m as guilty as the next blogger of focusing on premium cabin redemptions and that’s because, more often than not, that’s where the real value is to be had out of our miles balances. But sometimes it’s good to remind ourselves that it’s not always about premium cabin travel…sometimes it can just be about being able to afford a nice vacation with the family.
Flat beds and Champagne are all very nice but, if your priority is to save up to take your kids to California, award sales like this (combined with the current Tesco to Virgin Flying Club 20% conversion bonus) are far more useful than any Business Class sale – hopefully a lot of readers can make use of it.