Virgin Atlantic is a pioneer in the airline industry, famously becoming profitable in the first year of operation in 1984. It isn't a part of a major alliance, but does have many partners around the world to make traveling on award tickets a little easier. Recently, the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard has raised its sign up bonus to 65,000 miles, tied with its highest ever offer on this card. Let's dig into the details of Virgin Atlantic's award program, and see where the sweet spots are to best use these 65,000 miles!
Despite these being Virgin Atlantic miles, I would recommend not using them for Virgin Atlantic flights. Why? Fuel surcharges and taxes. British airlines like Virgin and British Airways are notorious for charging high fees on award tickets. Thankfully, there is a way around this. With 14 different partners, Virgin Atlantic has plenty of alternative options for award travel. They include:
As you can see, you have at least one partner in every major alliance (Star Alliance, oneworld, and SkyTeam), as well as a few others. What's the best one to use? Well, it depends on where you want to fly.
Hawaiian Airlines offers fuel surcharge-free flights using Virgin Atlantic points from the mainland for 40,000 miles roundtrip. While this isn't the best deal for those on the west coast out of all the frequent flyer programs (British Airways' award chart is distance-based, so roundtrips can be had for 25,000 points), it's a great deal for those on the East Coast, where flights will cost you much more.
2. Domestic FlightsVirgin America is a good partner, if you're traveling to cities that they service. West Coast flights are between 10,000 and 15,000 miles roundtrip, which is a good deal compared to 25,000 roundtrip for many of the legacy carriers. Prices are priced city-to-city, so check out their site if interested in learning more. Click 'spend miles' and the award chart will pop up.
3. Traveling to and within Japan
A great way to use Virgin Atlantic points is traveling on ANA within Japan, which can be done roundtrip between any city for 15,000 miles. If you plan on traveling to Japan, first class is a cheap 120,000 miles roundtrip from Chicago to Tokyo.
4. Travel within Australia
Since Virgin Australia is a travel partner of Virgin Atlantic, intra-Australia flights are also very cheap. In a country with such large travel distances, this is huge. Sydney to Canberra is 8,000 miles each way, and Sydney to the other side of the continent, Perth, is 20,000 miles each way.
You can see that Virgin Atlantic would be a good program to have some points in for several trips. The Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard offers 20,000 miles on your first purchase with the card. And then, after you spend $2,500 in purchases in 3 months, you'll receive an additional 25,000 miles. 5,000 more miles are yours for adding an additional cardmember to your account. Plus, each year you have the card, you'll receive 15,000 miles on your account anniversary (7,500 if you spend $15,000, and another 7,500 if you spend $25,000). That's enough for a roundtrip on Virgin America on the West Coast! And, if you're buying Virgin Atlantic flights, you'll earn 3 miles per dollar. All other purchases earn you 1.5 miles per dollar.
There are plenty of reasons to earn some Virgin Atlantic miles, even if you never plan on flying on the airline. Any other frequent flyers of Virgin Atlantic out there? Let us know your tips below!