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Via Head for Points, Virgin Atlantic has round-trip coach award seats for only 25,000 miles. You have to book your ticket by September 20, 2013, but can book travel up to 11 months out!
You can book 1-way awards for 12,500 miles.
You CANNOT book Upper Class (Virgin Atlantic’s business class) or Premium Economy seats using this discount.
This discount is only for flights from the US to UK (mostly London) or vice-versa.
Is This a Good Deal?
The bad news is that you will pay ~$444 or higher for the round-trip award because Virgin Atlantic charges fuel surcharges.
But you would pay 60,000 miles and $186 to book a non-stop flight from Chicago to London on United (which doesn’t charge any fuel surcharges). So you’re paying $258 more ($444 in Virgin Atlantic fees – $186 in United fees) in taxes and fees compared to a United award booking.
But you’re also saving 35,000 miles!
That’s because it usually costs 60,000 miles for a regular return award to London on US Air, American Airlines or United. So you’re paying ~$258 extra in cash but are saving ~35,000 US Air/American Airlines/US Air miles if you book on Virgin Atlantic which is a good deal!
I find US Air, American Airlines and United miles more valuable than Virgin Atlantic miles, so I’d gladly pay an extra $258 to save 35,000 miles.
Note that American Airline has discounted awards to Europe for 40,000 miles from October 15 to May 15 and US Air has discounted awards to Europe for 35,000 miles from January 15 to February 28.
The cheapest flight from San Francisco to London, coincidently on Virgin Atlantic, costs $1,006.
But you’d pay only 25,000 Virgin Atlantic miles and ~$444 if you redeem Virgin Atlantic miles. This means that 25,000 Virgin Atlantic miles saves you $562 ($1,006 for the cash ticket – $444 if you redeem Virgin Atlantic miles), which is a good deal to me!
Virgin Atlantic Discounted Awards
The Virgin Atlantic website says that it costs 25,000 to 35,000 miles for round-trip award flights from the US to the UK (mostly London) and up to $500 in taxes and fees.
But I found that the awards cost 25,000 miles and ~$450 in taxes and fees for all destinations, though that could change.
Here’s what I found when I booked awards from these US cities to London:
- Boston – 25,000 miles + ~$444 in fees
- Chicago – 25,000 miles + ~$444 in fees
- Los Angeles – 25,000 miles + $444 in fees
- Miami – 25,000 miles + ~$444 in fees
- New York – 25,000 miles + ~$444 in fees
- Orlando – 25,000 miles + ~$444 in fees
- San Francisco – 25,000 miles + ~$444 in fees
- Vancouver – 25,000 miles + ~$444 in fees
- Washington – 25,000 miles + ~$444 in fees
I found a flight from San Francisco to London and back for only 25,000 miles and ~$444 in taxes and fees, compared to the Virgin Atlantic website which suggests that it could cost 33,000 miles and $500 in fees.
Transferring Points to Virgin Atlantic
You can also transfer American Express Membership Rewards points, from the American Express Platinum, Business Rewards Gold, or Premier Rewards Gold to Virgin Atlantic in a 1:1 ratio. These transfers are also usually instant.
Starwood hotel transfers to Virgin Atlantic are NOT instant and can take a few days, which means that the award you want to book may not be available when your points transfer.
You can check availability on the Virgin Atlantic website even if you don’t have enough miles in your account for the award.
The discounted award tickets on Virgin Atlantic are a good deal for folks who want to visit London and who live in the Virgin Atlantic departure cities above!
If you don’t live in a Virgin Atlantic departure city, you’ll have to get there yourself, which could make this a less attractive deal if you have to spend money to get to the departure city.