How to Earn and Use Virgin America Points – Part 5: Using Virgin America Points on Partners: Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia

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Virgin America is a West Coast based airline that flies to several cities in the United States and a few cities in Mexico.  Their flights are concentrated along the West Coast, and from their hub cities (San Francisco and Los Angeles) to the East Coast.

A lot of people like flying Virgin America since they’ve marketed themselves as a very “hip” brand!  But most of us here care more about Virgin America points and what you can do with them.

How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 5 Using Virgin America Points On Partners Virgin Atlantic And Virgin Australia

You Can Use Virgin America Points to Fly on Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia

How to Earn and Use Virgin America Points

Part 5:  Using Virgin America Points on Partners:  Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia

Link:   Virgin America

Link:   Virgin America Elevate Frequent Flyer Program

1.   Using Virgin America Points on Partners

While Virgin America’s frequent flyer program uses a revenue-based system on their own flights, they have mileage-based charts for their partner airlines.

You can use Virgin America points on these partner airlines:

  • Singapore Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Emirates
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Virgin Australia

In most cases, 1-way partner awards cost 60% of the required points for a round-trip ticket.  The exception are inter-island flights on Hawaiian Air, where 1-ways cost 50% of the price of round-trips.

All partner awards must be booked over the phone.  There is also no way to search for available award seats on partner airlines with the Virgin America website.  However, there are other tools you can use depending on the partner airline!

2.   Virgin Atlantic

a)   Where Does Virgin Atlantic Fly?

Virgin Atlantic is based in London, UK.  They are a separate company from Virgin America, but they are partners.  Virgin Atlantic serves 12 destinations in the US and Canada:

How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 5 Using Virgin America Points On Partners Virgin Atlantic And Virgin Australia

Virgin Atlantic Flies to 12 Destinations in North America

You can fly from the UK to or from:

  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Detroit
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Newark
  • New York (John F. Kennedy)
  • Orlando
  • San Francisco
  • Washington, DC (Dulles)

b)   How Many Points Do You Need?

Virgin Atlantic adds fuel surcharges and high taxes to award tickets, so some redemptions may not be very good.

You can book either round-trip or 1-way flights with Virgin Atlantic.  If you book 1-way flights, segments departing London are usually much more expensive in taxes and fees than segments going to London.  That’s because London and UK departure taxes are very high!

How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 5 Using Virgin America Points On Partners Virgin Atlantic And Virgin Australia

Taxes and Fees on Flights Departing London Are Much Higher Than Those Arriving

For flights to or from the UK, the following Virgin Atlantic destinations cost:

  • 15,000 points + tax round-trip in coach (10,000 points 1-way)
  • 25,000 points + tax round-trip in Premium Economy (15,000 points 1-way)
  • 35,000 points + tax round-trip in Business (Upper) Class (25,000 points 1-way)
How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 5 Using Virgin America Points On Partners Virgin Atlantic And Virgin Australia

Sample Round-Trip Points + Tax Price for the East Coast Region

  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Detroit
  • Newark
  • New York (John F. Kennedy)
  • Washington

For flights to or from the UK, the following Virgin Atlantic destinations cost:

  • 20,000 points + tax round-trip in coach (12,000 points 1-way)
  • 30,000 points + tax round-trip in Premium Economy (17,000 points 1-way)
  • 40,000 points + tax round-trip in Business (Upper) Class (25,000 points 1-way)
How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 5 Using Virgin America Points On Partners Virgin Atlantic And Virgin Australia

Sample 1-Way Points + Tax Price for Florida

  • Miami
  • Orlando

For flights to or from the UK, the following Virgin Atlantic destinations cost:

  • 25,000 points + tax round-trip in coach (15,000 points 1-way)
  • 30,000 points + tax round-trip in Premium Economy (20,000 points 1-way)
  • 50,000 points + tax round-trip in Business (Upper) Class (30,000 points 1-way)
How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 5 Using Virgin America Points On Partners Virgin Atlantic And Virgin Australia

Sample Round-Trip Points + Tax Price for the West Coast Region

  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco

c)   Virgin Atlantic Booking Example

i)   Finding Award Seats

The best way to search for Virgin Atlantic flights is to use the Virgin Atlantic website.   If Virgin Atlantic has low-level award seats available on their website, you can book that flight with Virgin America points.

In order to search the Virgin Atlantic website for award seats, you’ll have to open a Virgin Atlantic Flying Red frequent flyer account, which is a separate program from Virgin America’s Elevate program.

If you wanted to search for available seats from Boston to London in coach, you should enter the cities, dates, and number of passengers, as well as cabin class.  On the bottom, click “spend your miles” to search for award seats.

Note: If you don’t see the option to “spend your miles,” click on the “View all search options” tab at the bottom of the search box.

How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 5 Using Virgin America Points On Partners Virgin Atlantic And Virgin Australia

Search for Award Seats Directly on the Virgin Atlantic Website

If seats are available on the dates you selected, the website will show you flights on that day.  However, if seats aren’t available on the exact dates you chose, you’ll see a calendar like this:

How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 5 Using Virgin America Points On Partners Virgin Atlantic And Virgin Australia

Red Means Coach Seats Are Available, and Purple Indicates Upper (Business) Class

Once you click through, you’ll see which flights are available on the days you selected.  Make sure the website shows “LOW” availability!

How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 5 Using Virgin America Points On Partners Virgin Atlantic And Virgin Australia

Be Sure to Look for “Lowest Cost” Availability (as in Low-Level Award Seats)

Since we’re searching on Virgin Atlantic’s website, we’ll see the price in miles that Virgin Atlantic charges.  This is different from the amount of points that Virgin America charges!

However, the taxes that Virgin Atlantic shows on their website will be a good indicator of what Virgin America will charge using Virgin America Elevate points.  Each time I called to check which Virgin Atlantic seats I could book with Virgin America points, the taxes quoted were within a couple of dollars of what the Virgin Atlantic website showed.

For this Boston to London round-trip, the taxes would be ~$455 for a round-trip coach award ticket.

How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 5 Using Virgin America Points On Partners Virgin Atlantic And Virgin Australia

High Taxes for a Coach Class Round-Trip Award Ticket to Europe

However, most of the taxes on a round-trip occur on the return segment from London to the US.  For example, if you book a 1-way award ticket from Boston to London:

How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 5 Using Virgin America Points On Partners Virgin Atlantic And Virgin Australia

Boston to London 1-Way Has ~$135 in Taxes

While a 1-way coach award ticket from London to Boston costs ~$320!

How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 5 Using Virgin America Points On Partners Virgin Atlantic And Virgin Australia

London to Boston Is ~$320 1-Way, More Than 2.5 Times Higher Than US to London!

Most of these taxes come from departing London, since the UK charges high taxes and fees for passengers leaving the UK.  If you are piecing together a trip to Europe, it would be better to use Virgin America points 1-way to London, then other miles to return from elsewhere in Europe back home.

ii)   What About Business Class?

If you want to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class (Business Class), using Virgin America points may be a good deal if you don’t mind paying hefty taxes and fees.  Taxes cost ~$1,134 round-trip in Upper Class, but only ~$420 1-way from the US to London.

However, that’s still cheaper than buying a Business Class ticket with cash, and there are lots of award seats available from several cities on the East Coast.

How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 5 Using Virgin America Points On Partners Virgin Atlantic And Virgin Australia

~$420 in Taxes From the US to London in Upper (Business) Class

Remember, to book, you must call Virgin America at 877-359-8474.

3.   Virgin Australia

a)   Where Does Virgin Australia Fly?

Virgin America is also partners with Virgin Australia, which flies from Los Angeles to Brisbane and Sydney, and connects to many destinations in Australia, New Zealand, and Asia.

Keep in mind that Virgin Australia is also partners with Delta Skymiles, and Delta does NOT charge any fuel surcharges on Virgin Australia flights.

Delta charges 100,000 miles round-trip in coach and 160,000 miles round-trip in Business Class, but their miles are generally easier to get (you get 1 Delta mile for every 1 American Express Membership Rewards point transferred, as opposed to 1 Virgin America point per every 2 American Express Membership Rewards points transferred).

b)   How Many Points Do You Need?

From Los Angeles to Australia in coach, it costs 40,000 points (which can be transferred from 80,000 American Express Membership Rewards points) + $826 in taxes round-trip.  Paying that much in points and fees may not be as good a choice.  On the other hand, Delta charges 100,000 miles + ~$130 in taxes.

If you wanted to fly to Australia in Virgin Australia Business Class, Virgin America charges 80,000 points + $926 in taxes and fees round-trip.

How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 5 Using Virgin America Points On Partners Virgin Atlantic And Virgin Australia

How Many Virgin America Points Does It Take to Fly From Los Angeles to Australia on Virgin Australia?

But if you are transferring points from American Express Membership Rewards, it might be better to transfer to Delta, since they charge 160,000 miles (the same number of American Express Membership Rewards points) but charge less than $200 in taxes and fees.

You can also use Virgin America points to fly within Australia or between Australia and New Zealand or Asia.

For example, Sydney to Perth round-trip (a trans-continental flight in Australia) costs 16,000 points + $52 in taxes in coach, or 27,000 points + $55 in Business Class.

Shorter flights, like Brisbane to Adelaide, cost 9,000 points + $42 in coach, or 17,000 points + $42 in Business Class.

Flights to New Zealand from Australia have higher fees, like Brisbane to Dunedin round-trip for 16,000 points + $180 in taxes and fees.

c)   Virgin Australia Booking Example

i)   Finding Award Seats

Some people are surprised when I say that the best way to search for Virgin Australia award seats across the Pacific Ocean is to use Delta’s website!  Delta often can’t find their own flights, but they sure can find Virgin Australia flights! 🙂

Once you click “More Search Options,” you should search for awards 1-way at a time.  Virgin Australia only has flights across the Pacific Ocean to Los Angeles from Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, so you should search 1 of those 3 city pairs.

How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 5 Using Virgin America Points On Partners Virgin Atlantic And Virgin Australia

How to Search for Award Seats on Delta’s Website

Delta sometimes shows their own Los Angeles to Sydney flight, but if you see any Virgin Australia flight on the Delta website, that means it’s also available with Virgin America points.

How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 5 Using Virgin America Points On Partners Virgin Atlantic And Virgin Australia

Check That the Flight Is Operated by Virgin Australia

Keep in mind that the price shown is Delta’s price, which is likely to be cheaper in taxes and fees than Virgin America’s price.

If need to connect to another city, like Melbourne, Virgin America charges for each segment you fly.  You would have to pay the price for Los Angeles to Sydney, and Sydney to Melbourne.

But Delta charges the same amount whether you connect onward to another Australian city or not.

How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 5 Using Virgin America Points On Partners Virgin Atlantic And Virgin Australia

You’ll Pay the Same Number of Delta Points If You Connect to Another Australian City

Note:   ALL flight segments must be on Virgin Australia to book tickets with Virgin America points.  If the Los Angeles – Sydney flight is on Delta, you can NOT use Virgin America points to book!

Delta’s award site isn’t that great for finding flights within Australia or to surrounding areas like New Zealand, so you may have to call Virgin America to check if there are award seats open on shorter flights.

Bottom Line

You can use Virgin America points to book flights on their partner airlines, like Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia.  Depending on the route, you may pay very high fuel surcharges.

The easiest way to see if award seats are available on Virgin Atlantic is to use the Virgin Atlantic website.  For Virgin Australia, it’s often easier to see award seats on the Delta website.

If you find award seats, you should be able to book using Virgin America points.  But you have to call Virgin America at 877-359-8474 to book the ticket.

Next, we’ll learn how to book award tickets on Emirates using Virgin America points.

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4 responses to “How to Earn and Use Virgin America Points – Part 5: Using Virgin America Points on Partners: Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia

  1. good post, thank you! now, more of these & less of ‘get free wifi’ [crap that undermines intelligence] please.

  2. Great post! Somewhat related – have you ever successfully used Virgin Atlantic miles for Virgin America bookings? Chase transfers to Virgin Atlantic, but I’ve tried to call 3-5 months in advance for award seats on Virgin America multiple times now, and they’ve never been able to find anything.

  3. Hi. Can you please confirm if Virgin America does or does NOT charge fuel surcharge on award redemptions to fly Virgin Australia? Thank you.

  4. Hi, I am trying to figure out if I am better off joining the Virgin Atlantic or Virgin America points program. I am an American currently living in London. I buy mainly B class tickets on US carriers/code-shares to comply with the “Fly America” Act – main routes are LHR to IAD. Thanks for your insight!