Are you wondering how to get good value when you redeem Virgin Atlantic miles to Europe?
Virgin Atlantic miles are easy to earn because they’ve partnered with most of the flexible points currencies.
But as with many airline partners, it can be tricky to understand the loyalty program rules, award charts, and navigate glitchy websites to actually find award space.
In this guide, we will focus on Virgin Atlantic so that you can better maximize your Virgin Atlantic miles on flights to Europe whether you’re flying on Virgin Atlantic or one of their partners.
How to Book a Virgin Atlantic Award Flight to Europe
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: The Basics
- Virgin Atlantic is not a member of a major airline alliance.
- However, it does have airline partnerships that include ANA, Delta, Singapore Airlines, Hawaiian, Air New Zealand, Scandinavian Airlines, South African Airways, and Virgin Australia.
- Virgin Atlantic is a 1:1 transfer partner for all 3 major transferable points travel-rewards programs.
- Watch out for high taxes and fees!
- Virgin Atlantic is notorious for fees on award flights. Flying out of the U.K. comes with high departure taxes and is best avoided if possible.
- American Express and Citi typically offer periodic 25%-30% Virgin Atlantic transfer bonuses.
- These are an especially advantageous time to transfer points to Virgin Atlantic if you have a redemption in mind.
- Virgin Points no longer expire.
Virgin Atlantic Miles to Europe: Virgin Atlantic Metal
Just a quick explanation for anyone not familiar with the AV geek term “metal.” It simply refers to the planes. So in this case, we’ll be talking about routes that are operated and flown by Virgin Atlantic.
Virgin Atlantic operates several direct routes to London from the United States.
Virgin Atlantic’s award chart is broken up into Standard and Peak awards and divided by class. You’re looking for Standard availability for the best pricing. And luckily, as much as 2/3 of the year falls under Standard pricing mileage amounts.
The Virgin Atlantic award chart has 3 different U.S. regions.
- Northeast: New York-JFK, Newark, Boston, and Washington, D.C.
- Midwest & South: Miami, Atlanta, Orlando
- West: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Seattle
The Virgin Atlantic award chart below shows roundtrip award prices. But one-ways are the way to go to avoid high taxes and fees! One-way awards are half of the number of miles shown.
Sorry luxury travelers! Upper-class awards between the U.S. and London come with crazy high taxes and fees and eliminate any value with the overall redemption.
The real gem here??
From the Northeast, it costs just 10k Virgin Points + about $150 in taxes in fees for a one-way to London.
And the even better award is a Premium Economy seat for just 17.5k Virgin Points + about $285 in taxes and fees.
Let’s look at some examples to understand the value.
Here is an award search on Virgin Atlantic. This is a one-way flight from New York-JFK to London-Heathrow flown by Virgin Atlantic.
As you can see the number of Virgin Points needed to book this flight matches the Standard award pricing on their award chart. You’d need 10k Virgin Points + $150.30 for a one-way economy ticket and 17,500 Virgin Points + $285.30.
Here’s how the same one-way Virgin Atlantic flight on the same date prices out on Google Flights. You can see it’s $352.
Now to calculate the cents per point valuation on a redemption, here’s the formula.
(Cash Price – Award Ticket Taxes & Fees) / the number of points or miles
Using this math, you’d get a 2 cent per point redemption value if you redeemed for the economy class one-way ticket from New York to London.
As a rule of thumb, you want to get at least 1.5 cents per point for award flights. So, this 2 cent per point value is clearly better than that, but admittedly, it’s average and nothing to get overly excited about.
It is though, a super cheap way to hop across the pond.
Let’s take this a step further and choose the Premium Economy redemption instead.
Using the same math from above, if we used 17,500 Virgin Points instead and paid the $285 in taxes and fees, we’d get a 3 cent per point valuation and more legroom!
And, what about those Virgin Atlantic transfer bonuses offered by American Express and Citibank?
American Express has consistently offered 30% transfer bonuses to Virgin Atlantic for the last several years.
Let’s recalculate the valuations from above accounting for a 30% transfer bonus.
Instead of transferring 10k Amex Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic for a one-way economy ticket, you’d need just 7k Amex points.
For Premium Economy, a 30% bonus would mean you only need 12,250 Amex points to equal the 17,500 Virgin Points need for the redemption. (You’d need to transfer 13k Amex points because you can only transfer in 1k point increments.)
The valuation on the economy and Premium Economy redemptions above would now be 3 and 4 cents per point, respectively.
Not to mention, these redemptions include at least 1 free checked bag (2 for Premium Economy) and seat selection, none of which are included on a basic economy fare.
And for what it’s worth, let’s take a quick look at what Delta is pricing this same one-way Virgin Atlantic flight.
Virgin Atlantic and Delta are partners. This means that Virgin Atlantic flights can be booked on Delta’s website with Delta miles and vice versa.
As you can see, Delta is showing it will cost 35k Delta miles + $6 in taxes and fees to book this Virgin Atlantic flight in economy. Interestingly, the Premium Economy award is sold out here but is still available on Virgin’s website.
Using the same math as above, this redemption would work out to be just about a 1 cent per point valuation (.0098 for my miles & points math nerds). This would not be a good deal at all.
What if London isn’t your final destination in Europe?
You can easily access other points in the U.K. by car or train. You can spend a couple of days in London and then take the Eurostar high-speed train across the English Channel to reach cities like Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris.
If your destination is a bit further into Europe, British Airways Avios are great for short hauls within Europe.
Booking a one-way with Virgin Atlantic makes the most sense.
Just remember, the value of a deal like this is lost on roundtrip flights from the U.S. to London.
The airline fees in both directions combined with the U.K.’s hefty departure tax back to North America is too much out of pocket.
Not to mention that booking creative one-way itineraries like this can be really helpful when you’re not finding award flights to your intended destination and you need to backdoor your way into Europe.
Virgin Atlantic Miles to Europe:
Delta & Air France/KLM Metal
As I mentioned earlier, the beauty of airline alliances & partnerships is that you can use the airline miles of one airline to book flights with one of their partners and vice versa.
Because Virgin Atlantic, Air France, KLM, and Delta are partners, it’s possible to book flights flown by Delta by searching on Virgin Atlantic’s website and paying with Virgin Points. Or by searching on the Flying Blue website and paying with Flying Blue miles.
In fact, it’s an essential part of an award booking strategy to compare pricing among different partners in order to find the best price and maximize your redemptions.
Delta operates numerous nonstop flights from the U.S. to different cities in Europe. Air France and KLM also fly direct routes to cities like Amsterdam and Paris from the U.S.
You want to book nonstop routes for the best value. Otherwise, Virgin Atlantic’s pricing increases on a distance-based scale.
Virgin Atlantic charges the following to fly Delta’s nonstop routes to Europe. The pricing is one-way. Round trip itineraries would need to be doubled.
For years, this Virgin Atlantic sweet spot to fly in Delta One has been popular and one of the best award redemptions to Europe.
However, there have been changes to the Delta award space that is showing on Virgin Atlantic. In particular, there seems to be no Delta One award showing for any routes for as many dates as you want to search.
I came upon this while searching unsuccessfully for some award flights for myself several months ago and did some digging to find out what was going on. Other miles and points bloggers had certainly noticed the same thing and reported on it.
It’s not clear if this is a temporary glitch or a permanent change. It’s no secret the Virgin Atlantic website is buggy. You often have to dig for airports and sometimes it won’t let you search miles redemptions, only cash flights.
However, if this is indeed permanent, this certainly devalues the Virgin Atlantic program when it comes to award flights to Europe.
With that, however, let’s take a look at some of the availability that is showing. All hope is not lost! In fact, I was encouraged by the amount of economy space I did find and even more so when comparing it to Delta’s own pricing.
Here is the calendar view for the end of October and November 2022 for flights between Detroit and Paris. You can clearly see a range of pricing.
For our purposes in this first part of the example, we are focusing on the flights for 30k Virgin Points + $5.60 in taxes and fees. These are the nonstop one-way Delta-operated flights.
The others are operated by Air France and KLM. Not all of these flights are nonstop but some are. We’ll get to that in a minute.
Before airlines like Delta ditched their award charts in favor of dynamic pricing, 30k miles in economy, one-way, was the typical award flight cost to Europe.
So, this pricing is good but also historically standard.
However, here’s where it’s interesting.
This is the same Delta flight showing on Delta’s website. As you can see, Delta wants a whopping 72k Delta miles one-way in economy!
This is more than double the price of Virgin Atlantic’s pricing for the same flight, not to mention outrageous compared to what might be typical for a one-way economy flight to Europe.
Why not choose the cheaper redemptions with Air France or KLM as shown in the award availability calendar above?
As you see above, the number of points required is less but the taxes and fees are significantly more at $162 compared to just $5.60 on the Delta-operated ticket.
If you can find a Delta-operated flight on the outbound part of your itinerary, you’ll save money in taxes and fees.
Looking at the Google Flights cash price, it would cost $880 to book this one-way economy ticket on Delta to Paris from Detroit. (The round trip for a week-long trip ticket was $1,182 for a main cabin economy ticket.)
Using the same cent per point valuation as above would give the Virgin redemption for the Delta flight a 3 cents per point value. If you redeemed with Delta, you’d get just a 1.2 cents per point valuation.
However, if you were to book a round trip award itinerary with your Virgin Points for 60k (30k x2), you’d pay about $230 in taxes and fees. This brings the cent per point valuation to just under 1.5 cents per point, the minimum value you’d want for an award flight. And therefore, not exactly what you’re aiming for.
Mix and Match Partners to Reduce Costs
Remember those 12k Virgin Point redemptions on partners like Air France and KLM I mentioned above? Here’s where they can help you lower your mileage and out-of-pocket costs and increase your redemption value.
It would cost 42k Virgin Points + $262.77. This makes for a 2.2 cent per point valuation.
Factor in a Transfer Bonus
Let’s use the American Express 30% transfer bonus calculations from earlier. If you transferred and booked this award ticket during this bonus time, you’d need just 29,400 Amex points (30k when transferred in 1k increments).
So, one last time, let’s get out our calculators.
This redemption would jump to a 3.1 cent per point valuation for an economy redemption, a great value in my opinion!
Virgin Atlantic operates routes to the U.K. and has partnered with airlines like Delta, Air France, and KLM for some great value on award flights to Europe.
Virgin Points are easy to earn because of their connection to flexible point currencies. And, bonus transfers like the ones offered with Amex and Citi, increase the value of these redemptions.
The lack of Delta One award space to Europe currently on Virgin Atlantic’s website is no doubt a strike against the program and only time will tell if it’s permanent or not.
However, there’s no denying the value in Virgin’s award pricing to Europe. For economy and Premium Economy travel, you could do well on the return you get from your hard-earned points.
So, would you like to book a Virgin Atlantic award to Europe?
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