25,000 Miles for Round-Trip Awards to London!

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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!

discounted virgin atlantic awards

Virgin Atlantic Has Discounted Coach Awards Up To September 20, 2013


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.

discounted virgin atlantic awards

You Will Pay Fuel Surcharges, But it Could Still be a Good Deal!

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.

discounted virgin atlantic awards

It Costs 60,000 Miles and $186 for a Round-Trip Award From Chicago to London Using United Miles

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.

discounted virgin atlantic awards

It Costs $1,006 for the Cheapest Flight from San Francisco to Chicago

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.

discounted virgin atlantic awards

Discounted Virgin Atlantic Awards

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.

discounted virgin atlantic awards

25,000 Miles & $444 for a Roundtrip Award from San Francisco to London

Transferring Points to Virgin Atlantic

You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points in a 1:1 ratio from the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus or Chase Ink Bold to Virgin Atlantic.  The transfers are usually instant.

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.

Bottom Line

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.

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35 responses to “25,000 Miles for Round-Trip Awards to London!

  1. Pretty good deal despite the hefty fuel surcharges.

  2. I agree with Donnie Law, it is a good deal. Even with fuel surcharges (aka robbery tax), it’s very appealing.

  3. I found a flight from EWR-MAN that priced out at $270.90 ai. But it would not let me book it and when I called VS they said it was a glitch and would not honor it

  4. Does Virgin have sales like this often? Or is this a first time/one time deal? Unfortunately I don’t have plans to go to London until 2015. Also I’m wondering, since you can book travel for 11 months out, if summer availability is as good as November or February.

  5. I tried to search for a one-way flight to see if I could avoid the fuel surcharges by flying home from somewhere else, but, when I tried to search one way, the button for using miles was grayed out and I couldn’t choose it.

    • @Laura R – Summer availability in my quick tests weren’t as good, but it depends on which city you’re traveling from. They’ve had a similar sale before, but the regular rate is ~35,000 miles in coach.

      @Jan – Very strange! I just checked and was able to select a one-way flight using the Safari browser.

  6. Evaluate it as a cash and miles fare, sort of like the hotel programs that offer “cash and points” rates, except that in this case there is no such thing as an award seat, just a discounted one. I would never consider accumulating points in this program, which is generally awful because of the robbery tax (nice term, milesforfamily), but I could see transferring in points for a one off redemption if I was really determined to go to London specifically.

  7. Probably the best deal is to fly from the US to LHR on Virgin Atlantic (12,500 miles + $120ish fees/taxes) then fly back on AA or United miles (30,000 miles + $10-50ish taxes/fees). Wish they had this deal all year long.

  8. Hi Daraius,

    Looks like the $180+ fee charged by United and AA only applies to flights from UK to US. An one way from ORD to LHR costs 30,000 UA miles or a minimum of 20,000 AA miles with very little fee. I was just wondering whether there might be a workaround to avoid the UK to US fee?

  9. Stopovers and/or open jaws allowed?

  10. Good idea Grant! Don’t forget AA has off peak one way award for 20k between 10/15 to 5/15 and you can get 10% rebate if you have one of their credit cards. So you can do AA for 18k on your way back.

  11. The hefty fuel charges seem to be on the return from London. If you can book a one-way there and use points for a one-way back on another airline that may be a better option.

  12. “The cheapest flight from San Francisco to London, coincidently on Virgin Atlantic, costs $1,006.”

    Your math is severely flawed. Along with paying $1,006 cash you are also getting, the points for the credit card spending, the miles for the flight, and getting closer to elite status.

  13. Grant: if you fly on united from the UK, you’re paying close to $300 in taxes.

  14. $10 taxes from LHR? Methinks not Grant. The higher return fees aren’t fuel surcharges, they are LHR/UK departure taxes, which will be tacked on to any award redemption with any carrier.

    Might want to get the basics down before looking to get-rich-quick through the blogging game.

  15. Are you able to book this with code share partner miles like Delta?????

  16. Another option is to fly one-way to LHR on Virgin, take an easyjet or discount airline flight to continental europe where the outbound taxes/fees are cheaper, and then fly back on AA using off-peak miles from Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, etc…

  17. >@Jan – Very strange! I just checked and was able to select a one-way flight using the Safari browser.

    I figured it out– it was the route. I had put in BWI-LHR. When I changed it to IAD-LHR, it worked.

  18. Anyone know how many more miles without the special sale? Thanks.

  19. @Jeremy and @Disco, you guys are right, forgot about that. Is it possible to route through Germany with Air Berlin or Lufthansa to save a few bucks on the way back to the US?

  20. Not reall. You might may a lower UK duty, but anger many charges their own departure tax that will make up most if not all of the difference.

  21. *really *pay *Germany

    Geez, Apple’s auto correct is terrible.

  22. Ultimately, an alternative between Virgin and United there are some flights with AA (not BA!) for 40000 miles and $190 in fees/taxes. At least this would apply in my case for a flight for two on May 8, 2014 and return 4 days later.

  23. I’d rather use the $445 in rip off fuel tax to buy coach round trip ticket and save the 25k miles.
    You can get US-London round trip for $445 economy cash fare. No fuel tax needed!

    Using any fuel tax charge & miles toger is a stupid & dumb idea.

    The way to use flying club mile is to book award ticket that has no fuel tax.

    • @Vince – All flights from London have high departure fees. The best way to avoid that is to fly back from a different European city, but that isn’t always possible.

      @Cogswell – Sure, you’d earn ~9,000 miles which could be worth between $90 to $180. But you’re still paying more cash out of pocket initially.

      @Stephanie – No. Only on Virgin Atlantic flights.

      @Jan – That makes sense!

      @Lynn H – It is usually ~35,000 miles roundtrip in coach.

      @jim – How do you get a return ticket to Europe for $445?

  24. Is there a way to get oneway for 12.5k?

  25. Pig in the Python

    Nice bow tie.

  26. Pig in the Python

    How can I put up a picture in the little box to the right of my comments?

  27. Yes, one must add in the bad UK air taxes. Note: The one-ticket rail/ferry to/from Dublin is not costly, only takes maybe 5-6 hours, and you get to see some scenery. And a stopover in Dublin would not be bad with free hotels. BOS-DUB on Aer Lingus costs maybe 25,000 Avios RT in coach or 50,000 Avios in Business. DUB RT to Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, France would cost 9,000 Avios.

  28. Douglas E. Little

    OK, what is a Gravatar and where do I find where it is hiding? Do you tie the bowtie or is it a “clip on”? I enjoy seeing your email on my list as opposed to the political spam which seems to be proliferating lately. Confusion to our enemies. (Just remember written humour is hard.)

  29. Any idea of when the next award sale will be from VA? I know they had one last January 2013, they doing it again in 2014?