How to Book Virgin Atlantic Award Flights With NO Fuel Surcharges Using Hawaiian Airline Miles!

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MileValue suggested that you may be able to book Virgin Atlantic award tickets with NO fuel surcharges if you use Hawaiian Airline miles.

I just booked a Virgin Atlantic Upper Class (business class) ticket, from Chicago to London, for a friend and did NOT pay fuel surcharges!  100,000 Hawaiian Airline miles and $298 for a ticket which costs ~$4,000+ isn’t too shabby!

I priced out the same trip in economy which cost 50,000 Virgin Atlantic miles and $196 in taxes and fees.

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?

This opens up another great use of Hawaiian Airline miles besides using them for flights to Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines or transferring them to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio.

In fact, using Hawaiian Air miles is the cheapest way to experience a flight on Virgin Atlantic – either in economy, premium economy or in Upper Class.  Virgin Atlantic doesn’t have First Class, but their Upper Class gets good reviews.

For example, it costs 90,000 Virgin Atlantic miles (as opposed to using Hawaiian Air miles) and $1,127 in taxes, fees, & fuel surcharges for a round trip Upper Class flight using Virgin Atlantic miles from Chicago to London.

$1,127 in Fuel Surcharges When Using Virgin Atlantic Miles for Virgin Atlantic Flight

In contrast, my friend paid 100,000 Hawaiian Airline miles and $298 in taxes and fees of which $215 were UK air passenger duty for flying in business class – for booking the same flight on Virgin Atlantic by using Hawaiian Air miles!

$298 in Taxes & Fees for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class When Using Hawaiian Air Miles

That’s a savings of ~$830!

Similarly, you can use ANA (Japan’s All Nippon Airways) to book awards on Virgin Atlantic.  You will pay less miles because ANA has a distance based award chart, but will still pay the $1,100 in fuel surcharges.

For example, it costs 68,000 ANA miles when you redeem ANA miles for a round trip flight in Upper Class, from Chicago to London, on Virgin Atlantic.  But you still pay the high fuel surcharges.  I’d rather pay 100,000 Hawaiian Airline miles and save cash (~$830) on fuel surcharges by booking through Hawaiian Airlines.

In my experience, award availability is fairly good on Virgin Atlantic especially if you are flexible with your travel dates.

Hawaiian Air Award Chart

The Hawaiian Air award chart has some great hidden values.

Hawaiian Airline Partner Award Chart for Virgin Atlantic

For example, it is only 50,000 Hawaiian Air miles to fly in coach from the mainland US to London on Virgin Atlantic.  In contrast, most other airlines require at least 60,000 miles for a round trip award from the US to London.

However, this only helps if you live in a Virgin Atlantic departure city (cities listed below).  Otherwise you have to find a way to get to the departure city on your own.

Another great value is the ability to fly from the US to any Virgin Atlantic destination in upper class for only 140,000 Virgin Atlantic miles.  So you could fly from, say, Chicago to Dubai, South Africa, Delhi or Hong Kong for only 140,000 Hawaiian Airline miles!

Virgin Atlantic Routes

Below is a list of US departure cities and possible destinations.  All destinations involve transiting through London, but you CANNOT have a stop over for longer than 24 hours when you use Hawaiian Airline miles for award travel on Virgin Atlantic.  But if you travel in Upper Class, you’d get access to the Virgin Atlantic clubhouse which is quite swanky!

You either have to live in a Virgin Atlantic departure city or find a way to get there on your own.  British Airways Avios and the Southwest Companion Pass could be helpful getting to the US departure city, but be sure to allow plenty of time in case of delays because you’re on your own if you are delayed and your Virgin Atlantic flight takes off on time.

1.   Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New York (JFK), Newark (EWR), San Fransisco (SFO), Washington, DC (IAD).  Flights to: Cape Town, Delhi, Dubai, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Lagos, London, Shanghai, Sydney & Tokyo.

2.  Las Vegas.  Flights to Cape Town, Delhi, Dubai, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Lagos, London (Gatwick), Manchester, Shanghai, Sydney & Tokyo.  Note that you will have to transfer from London Gatwick to London Heathrow for all flights outside the UK.

3.  Orlando.  Flights to Cape Town, Delhi, Glasgow, Dubai, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Lagos, London (Gatwick), Manchester, Shanghai, Sydney & Tokyo. Note that you will have to transfer from London Gatwick to London Heathrow for all flights outside the UK.

Hawaiian Airlines Award Booking Restrictions

Here are some  restrictions when using Hawaiian Airlines miles.  These were repeated to me by different Hawaiian Airline agents, but I called back only 5 times, so I’m not sure if these rules are enforced all the time.

Emily:  “Only” 5 times?  I’m glad I let Daraius make all the award bookings!

You can’t:

  • Combine different airlines on the same award
  • Have a stop over of more than 24 hours, but you can have a layover while transiting through London
  • Mix cabins.  For example, fly the outbound in coach and the return in business class even when paying the full business class award rate.  This was the silliest rule to me, but I didn’t attempt to actually ticket an itinerary like this
  • Have an open jaw where you fly to one airport, but fly back to your origin from a different airport

Using The Virgin Atlantic Website to Find Virgin Atlantic Award Seats

The easiest way is to first find Virgin Atlantic award availability on the Virgin Atlantic website and then call Hawaiian Airlines (see next section) to book the award.

Step 1. – Log into the Virgin Atlantic Website

Log into your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club account.

If you don’t have an account, you can sign-up for a Flying Club account here.

Step 2 – Spend Miles

Click on “Book Flights/Spend Miles

Step 2  – “Book Flight/Spend Miles”

Step 3 – Book a Reward Flight

Click on “Book a Reward Flight

Step 3 – “Book a Reward Flight”

Step 4 – Enter Your Flight Information

Enter in your flight information and select whether you want to travel in economy, premium economy, or Upper Class.  Make sure that the “Spend Miles” option is checked.

Click on “Search” to begin your search.

Enter Your Flight Information

Step 5 – Calendar

If there are no award flights, you will see a calendar of available dates.  Select dates which work for you and click on “Show Flights

See Calendar for Award Availability

Step 6 – Flight Details

You now know that there is 1 Upper Class award seat from Chicago to London on Virgin Atlantic flight VS 040 returning on VS 039 on May 9, 2013.

Flight Availability!

So instead of relying on the Hawaiian Airlines agent to find this flight for you, you can feed this specific flight to the agent to book.

At this point, write down the flight details.  For example, I’d write down:

VS 040 from Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to London Heathrow (LHR) departing at 18:00 on May 1 and arriving in London on May 2 at 08:00 am in Upper Class.

VS 039 from London Heathrow (LHR) to Chicago O’Hare (ORD) departing at 11:00 am on May 9 and arriving in Chicago on May 9 at 13:55 pm in Upper Class.

Armed with this information, you can now call Hawaiian Airlines to book your Virgin Atlantic award flight.  You can also ignore the taxes and fees which show up on the Virgin Atlantic website because you will pay only a small fraction of that when you use Hawaiian Airline miles.

How to book Virgin Atlantic Flights Using Hawaiian Airline Miles

The best way to book flights is to find award availability on Virgin Atlantic in either economy, premium economy, or Upper Class using the Virgin Atlantic website (see previous section) and to then call Hawaiian Airlines to book the award.

The Hawaiian Airlines agents are based in the Philippines and are very polite on the phone.  But they don’t appear to be trained well and don’t appear to have experience booking Virgin Atlantic awards.  I have not read of anyone booking a Virgin Atlantic award using Hawaiian Airlines on FlyerTalk or on other blogs, so this could be a first time for many of the agents.

My best advice is to not get flustered or to call the agent incompetent and get frustrated.  We don’t know what systems the agent is working with or the level of training which the agent has received.  It is usually best to be friendly and patient to help get what you want.

Instead, try to guide the agent through the booking process which includes spelling out the airport codes for the agent.  If the agent can’t find the flight or is making stuff up (“we can only book 3 weeks in advance”) hang up politely and call back immediately and speak with a new representative.

It took 5 separate phone calls & about 40 minutes to complete my friend’s booking.  Here are a few tips:

1.  Call Hawaiian Airlines.  Call Hawaiian Airlines at 877-426-4537.  Press “0” on your keypad and enter your 9 digit Hawaiian Air number followed by “#.”

Business hours are from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm HST, Monday to Friday.  That’s 1:00 pm CST to 9:30 pm CST, Monday to Friday.

2.  Guide The Telephone Representative.  Be very specific in your request to the telephone agent.  Include as much detail as possible (without overwhelming the representative) and take it step-by-step.

In my experience, the representatives appreciated the guidance.  The agents appeared to be following a script and would put me on hold, so bear with them.

Here’s how my conversation went:

Me:  Hello!  I’d like to book a flight on Virgin Atlantic Upper Class (business class) for 100,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles from Chicago to London.

Agent:  I’d be more than happy to help you with that.  What is your departure date?

Me:  I’d like to leave Chicago – that is airport code ORD – on Wednesday, April 3, 2013.  [You could even specify the flight number and timing if you want]

Agent:  When would you like to return?

Me: I’d like to return from London – airport code LHR – on Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Agent:  One moment please while I check.

Me: Sure, take your time!

Agent:  Yes, there is availability.

Me:  Ok, thank you! [I then check to make sure that the flights which the agent found match the flights which I found on the Virgin Atlantic website and that the class of service is the same]

Let’s ticket this now!

Agent:  I can’t ticket this now until Virgin Atlantic confirms the flight, but here’s your confirmation number.  Please call back within 3 days to complete ticketing.

Me:  Sure! [I then call back in a few minutes or in a few hours to complete the ticketing.  Be sure to get the Virgin Atlantic confirmation code in addition to the HHawaiian Airlines code so that you can look up your flight information on the Virgin Atlantic website.]

3.   Hang Up & Call Back.   Many times, the agent won’t be able to find the flights you want.  Politely thank the agent, and CALL BACK!  There is a lot of variability in staff experience levels so use this to your advantage.

I was told that I needed to wait until 21 days before departure [Thanks, goodbye! click]

And many agents couldn’t find the flights which I saw on the Virgin Atlantic website so politely hang up and call back

Do NOT tell the agents that you can see the flights on the Virgin Atlantic website because they will tell you that award availability is different for members of Virgin Atlantic’s program.  In my experience, there is no difference in award availability so don’t bring up the Virgin Atlantic website in your call.

4.   Virgin Atlantic Award Calendar.  I suggest having the Virgin Atlantic award calendar open when you call.  If the agent can’t find awards for the date you’re looking for, you could ask him or her to search for another date which has award availability.  If the agent still can’t find availability, it could be that the agent doesn’t know how to find availability in which case, hang up and call back!

5.  Requesting Flights & Confirmation.  Another quirk is that you sometimes can’t complete the ticketing process in 1 call.  That’s because Virgin Atlantic has to confirm whether there are award seats on the flight.

In my experience, once you get a confirmation code from Hawaiian, call back in a few minutes or hours to see if another agent can complete the ticketing.  If not, call back the next day and you should be able to complete booking the award.

Earning Hawaiian Airline Miles

It is very easy to earn Hawaiian Air miles!

1.   Credit Cards.   You earn 35,000 Hawaiian Airline miles each with the Bank of America and Bank of Hawaii (issued by a division of Bank of America) Hawaiian Airlines cards. You can get the bonus separately for each of these cards.  These are not my affiliate links.

Even better, you *may* be able to get the 35,000 mile sign-up bonus again, if you apply for the card after 3 to 4 months.  You may not need to cancel the card before reapplying, but cancelling could help if you have a lot of outstanding credit with Bank of America.

I usually mention that I want to separate my business and personal travel expenses or that my travel preference recently changed and that I try to align my credit cards to my travel preferences.

 2.   Transferring Points from American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Hotels.   You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood hotel points to Hawaiian Airlines in a 1:1 ratio.  Transfers from Membership Rewards are instant, but it could take ~1 week to transfer Starwood hotel points.

You can find a list of credit cards which earn Membership Rewards points in the Bank Points Credit Card tab and the Starwood hotel credit cards in the Hotel Credit Cards tab.

3.   Amazon.com Shopping.  You can earn 1 Hawaiian Airline mile per $1 spent for shopping on Amazon.com when you shop via the Hawaiian Airline shopping portal.  This is the only way to earn miles for Amazon.com shopping.

4.   Purchase Unlimited Miles.  You can purchase an unlimited amount of Hawaiian Airline miles from the Hawaiian Airlines website up to 10,000 miles per purchase.  It costs 2.68 cents per Hawaiian Airline miles, so this is usually a poor value unless you want to top off your account.

However a slightly cheaper way is to buy American Express Membership Rewards points for 2.5 cents per point and then transfer them to Hawaiian Airlines.  You can only buy 500,000 Membership Rewards points directly from American Express.

5.   Transfer Miles For Free.  If you have a Hawaiian Airlines credit card, you can receive miles from anyone for free.  This is a great way to consolidate miles from your extended family.

Bottom Line

Using Hawaiian Airline miles on Virgin Atlantic flights with no fuel surcharges is a great new way to use Hawaiian Airline miles!  However, it does take time and multiple Hawaiian Air agents to successfully book an award.

You can also use Hawaiian Airline miles to travel to Hawaii (but Hawaiian Airlines has limited routes from the mainland US) and to transfer to Hilton in a 1:2 ratio.

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These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

26 Responses to How to Book Virgin Atlantic Award Flights With NO Fuel Surcharges Using Hawaiian Airline Miles!

  1. Countdown to the comments saying “countdown until VS/HA closes this loophole.” :P

    Were you able to see if one could travel USA to Southeast Asia or Australia for 140K in Upper Class? The “rest of world” price seems awfully tempting :D

  2. Michael McGonigal

    What strategy would you suggest for snagging two of these seats so my spouse could go with me? Seems like the HA agents might get overwhelmed doing this for two different HA frequent flyer accounts at the same time.

  3. I transfer my Virgin Atlantic to Hilton Honors in August. It took 4 days. This time, I have waited 8 days and no transfer completion yet. Should I be concern?

  4. Fascinating post.

    @sil: Keep us updated. I’m about to transfer my miles to Hilton. I need to know that information. :)

  5. @Michael McGonigal – you can transfer the miles from one of your 2 accounts to the other (combining them) which will make it easier as you then can book for both of you on one ticket.

  6. @AK – I didn’t try booking the 140K award, but assume that you would have to feed it segment by segment to the agent after looking for availability on the Virgin Atlantic website.

    @Michael McGonigal
    - As Frank suggests, you could transfer the points into 1 account. The transfer is free if the person receiving the miles has an Hawaiian Airlines credit card.

    @sil @Lively – I wouldn’t worry about it. My last transfer took 12 days.

  7. Thanks for the post! This caught my attention a couple months ago when it was mentioned on another blog and so I had already decided to save my Hawaiian Air miles for a future business class trip to South Africa. But thank you for going into such detail, this will be a great post to reference back to when it comes time to book! There are an awful lot of restrictions, which is too bad.

  8. Another great read. Thanks, Daraius.

  9. Hawaiian Air has some pretty decent deals right now in December, that I posted on my blog. $302 for roundtrip from west coast cities LAX/SEA/OAK/SFO to HNL or OGG. If anybody is looking for hawaiian miles, that might be a good mileage run/vacation. Also theres always the 2x35k Hawaiian Air CC deal.

  10. Has anyone been successful in getting miles for amazon purchases?
    I made an amazon purchase of about $700+ in august and miles posted for one item that was a few bucks but not for the big ticket item. I’ve written to them multiple times, tweeted but no help. Read somewhere else that they give the same excuse – that they have forwarded to the marketing department.
    Customer service is pretty bad on phone too unfortunately.

  11. I’ve tried searching ORD to SYD, and can’t get it to load a calender or find a flight. I’m assuming I need two separate bookings ORD to London, then London to SYD??? If I do this would it be two separate bookings? Thanks

  12. Nevermind, for whatever reason, the third time through I got the availability to show. It says it will cost 290,000 miles, so I still wonder if it is two separate bookings. Sorry for the double post

  13. Thanks for booking this, Daraius. I never ticketed the award a few months ago when I broke this story, so I couldn’t be 100% sure that it worked. I’m very glad it does!

    I had the same experience with Hawaiian agents. It definitely took me several calls to get through to someone who knew how to help me.

  14. You can forget about getting Hawaiian points through purchases at Amazon.com. They owe me about 5,000+ points since April. I’ve tried customer service many times. I even sent them copies of the amazon invoices but still no luck. I’ve pretty much given up on trying to get them credited. It’s too bad because I purchase a lot of stuff through Amazon for work and this would have been an easy win for Hawaiian points. Not sure why it’s such a problem but it’s definitely on the Amazon side and Hawaiian Airlines marketplace doesn’t want to deal with it.

  15. @Jasmine @Corey - Thanks!

    @T.L.M. Hax - The Virgin Atlantic calendar shows you the amount of miles charged by Virgin Atlantic. But you’ll only pay 140,000 Hawaiian Airline miles when booking through Hawaiian Air. It shouldn’t require 2 awards if it is a legitimate routing.

    @MileValue - It sure works!

    @Pam @IntheD – I’ve had luck with my purchases, but I wish the mileage malls had better customer service!

  16. through evrewards.com there is 3% cash back on amazon purchases on ebates.com

    has anyone tried that? seems like a better “rate” than 1mile/dollar spent…unless in bad need on Hawaiian air miles. Thoughts?

  17. They just jacked up the rates :(

  18. @AK – I wonder which blogger is responsible for that. :)

  19. Pingback: Hawaiian Air Virgin Atlantic Redemptions | Million Mile Secrets

  20. Since the Delta/ Virgin Atlantic tie-up – Delta Skymiles are indeed the best way to access Virgin Upperclass without fuel surcharges. The only problem though is the minimal availability especially for West Coast for Virgin Atlantic flights.

    http://www.mightytravels.com/13232755/book_delta_skymiles_award_on_virgin_atlantic_with_no_fuel_surcharges.php

  21. OMG – best post ever! I have been planning on using points to fly on American Airlines to fly to london, but I am so excited to learn this trick. Looks like I can transfer my points to Virgin and then fly that way. I’ll have to compare the costs in terms of ticketing, but it sounds like it is at least as affordable. Have to figure out what area is best for a toddler on the plane. Thanks!

  22. Pingback: Miles And Points To Italy | Million Mile Secrets

  23. If u transfer points from amex rewards to Hawaiian but somehow you wanna transfer back to amex could you?

  24. @Sol – You can’t transfer points back!

  25. Pingback: Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners | Million Mile Secrets

  26. Pingback: 22,000 Membership Rewards Points & ~$400 for Round-Trip New York to London on Virgin Atlantic | Million Mile Secrets

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