Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
Virgin Atlantic is having an award ticket seat sale on flights between the UK and almost all of their destinations.
You’ll pay 25% fewer miles for award flights in coach class and Premium Economy class. You can get a 1-way coach class ticket between North America and the UK for as low as 13,125 miles plus fees.
But you have to book by September 23, 2014. As long as there are award seats available, you can book flights up to 11 months away.
Usually, it costs 17,500 miles 1-way in coach class between North America and the UK. With this sale, you’ll save miles, but you’ll still pay high fuel surcharges.
Where Can You Go With This Sale?
You can book 1-way or round-trip award seats between the UK and most Virgin Atlantic destinations during this sale for 25% off the regular number of miles. Here’s the round-trip, coach class award chart for North American cities:
Here’s the seat sale award chart for flights in Premium Economy class. Virgin Atlantic doesn’t always include Premium Economy award seats in their sales, so this could be a good opportunity for some folks to try it out!
Note: Taxes and fees are substantially higher for Premium Economy award tickets!
Note: You can NOT book Upper Class (Virgin Atlantic’s business class) with this sale.
Is This a Good Deal?
Normally, these destinations cost between 35,000 and 45,000 miles in coach class, and between 55,000 and 70,000 miles in Premium Economy class.
The bad news is that you will pay $475 to $500 for a round-trip coach class award ticket, and $745 to $810 for a Premium Economy award ticket, because Virgin Atlantic adds high fuel surcharges.
For example, from Chicago to London, you’ll pay 26,250 miles and $500 for a round-trip, coach class award ticket. But Delta, United Airlines, and American Airlines usually charge at least 60,000 miles for an award ticket to London, plus over $200 in fees.
You would pay 60,000 miles and ~$210 for a round-trip flight between Chicago and London on United Airlines (which doesn’t add fuel surcharges). So on Virgin Atlantic, you’re paying $290 more ($500 in Virgin Atlantic fees – $210 in United Airlines fees) in taxes and fees compared to a United Airlines award ticket.
But you’re also saving 33,750 miles!
To compare, the cash price of a coach class, round-trip ticket on Virgin Atlantic could be over $1,200. So you’ll save ~$700 or more if you buy an award ticket.
That said, some folks might really want to try Virgin Atlantic, so for them this could be a good deal. Emily and I enjoyed our flight on Virgin Atlantic from London back to the US, but we avoided fuel surcharges by using Hawaiian Airlines miles for the Virgin Atlantic award tickets.
How Do You Get Virgin Atlantic Miles?
1. American Express Membership Rewards Transfer
American Express Membership Rewards points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to Virgin Atlantic. You can earn Membership Rewards points from the American Express Platinum, American Express Mercedes-Benz Platinum, Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, American Express EveryDay, and American Express EveryDay Preferred cards.
There have been transfer bonuses in the past between AMEX Membership Rewards and Virgin Atlantic. I would only transfer points to Virgin Atlantic when there is a transfer bonus, because there are better ways to use AMEX Membership Rewards points!
2. Bank of America Virgin Atlantic Card
Link: Bank of America Virgin Atlantic Increased Sign-Up Bonus
You can get up to 90,000 Virgin Atlantic miles by signing-up for the Bank of America Virgin Atlantic card. But for most folks this is really a 70,000 mile sign-up bonus. This card gives you:
- 20,000 miles after your 1st purchase
- 50,000 miles after you spend $12,000 in the 1st 6 months
- 5,000 miles after you add 2 authorized users to your account
- 15,000 miles on card anniversary if you spend $25,000 in a year
- Annual fee of $90, NOT waived for the 1st year
Although this is advertised as a 90,000 mile sign-up bonus, you’ll have to spend $25,000 in a year to get the last 15,000 miles. There are better cards to spend $25,000 on!
3. Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Transfer
Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Link: Chase Ink Bold
Link: Chase Ink Plus
Link: Chase Freedom
If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, (no longer offered) Chase Ink Bold, or Chase Ink Plus cards, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic at a 1:1 ratio. And with 1 of those cards, you can indirectly transfer points from the Chase Freedom.
I’d rather save my Chase Ultimate Rewards points for transfers to United Airlines, Hyatt, and Southwest. But if you want to top-off your Virgin Atlantic miles balance, this could make sense.
4. Starwood Preferred Guest Points Transfer
You can transfer points from your Starwood Preferred Guest account to Virgin Atlantic at a 1:1 ratio.
And you get a 5,000 point bonus for every transfer of 20,000 or more Starwood points to airlines.
Starwood point transfers to Virgin Atlantic are NOT instant and can take up to 4 weeks, although in my experience it usually takes 2 to 12 days. So the award you want to book may not be available when your points transfer.
You’ll pay 25% fewer miles for coach class and Premium Economy class award seats with the Virgin Atlantic award seat sale. You have to book before September 23, 2014, and travel within the next 11 months.
Virgin Atlantic adds high fuel surcharges to award tickets, so even though you’re saving miles you’ll still be paying several hundred dollars for an award ticket. But you could save lots of money compared to paying for your flight.
And this could be worth it for folks who like flying Virgin Atlantic!
Emily and I won’t take advantage of this deal, but some folks might like it!