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 1: Introduction to Virgin America Points
- Part 2: Earning Virgin America Points
- Part 3: Using Virgin America Points on Partners: Singapore Airlines
- Part 4: Using Virgin America Points on Partners: Hawaiian Airlines
- Part 5: Using Virgin America Points on Partners: Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia
- Part 6: Using Virgin America Points on Partners: Emirates
Part 3: Using Virgin America Points on Partners: Singapore Airlines
Link: Virgin America
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
- Virgin Atlantic
- Virgin Australia
Virgin America charges for award tickets separately. For example, if you wanted to fly from San Francisco to Bangkok on Singapore Airlines, you’ll redeem a San Francisco to Singapore ticket, then a Singapore to Bangkok ticket.
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 partner award availability on the Virgin America website. However, there are other tools you can use depending on the partner airline!
2. Singapore Airlines
a) Where Does Singapore Airlines Fly?
Singapore Airlines has several daily flights to multiple US cities, including:
- Los Angeles (via Tokyo – Narita)
- San Francisco (via Seoul – Incheon)
- San Francisco (via Hong Kong)
- Houston (via Moscow)
- New York (John F. Kennedy) (via Frankfurt)
On these long-haul flights, you can only redeem points for coach tickets, because Singapore Airlines doesn’t normally release First and Business Class award seats to Virgin America.
Even though it’s not First Class or Business Class, Singapore Airlines coach has great service and entertainment options.
In addition, you can fly Singapore Airlines to the stopover point, so for example, you can book just the New York to Frankfurt portion of the New York to Singapore flight.
Generally, you’ll be able to find open award seats in coach, particularly on the New York to Frankfurt, San Francisco to Seoul, and Houston to Moscow routes.
b) How Many Points Do You Need?
From Singapore Airlines’ gateway cities in the US, Virgin America charges the following for coach award tickets:
Between Los Angeles and:
- Tokyo Narita – 40,000 points + $38 (24,000 points + $20 1-way)
- Singapore – 60,000 points + $93 (36,000 points + $48 1-way)
Between San Francisco and:
- Hong Kong – 40,000 points + $40 (24,000 points + $22 1-way)
- Seoul – 40,000 points + $38 (24,000 points + $20 1-way)
- Singapore – 56,000 points + $70 (33,600 points + $36 to $38 1-way)
Most Virgin America flights are to or from Los Angeles and San Francisco. So you can book connecting flights on Virgin America to Los Angeles or San Francisco, then connect onto Singapore Airlines flights to Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Seoul.
For example, you can book Chicago to San Francisco on Virgin America, then San Francisco to Seoul on Singapore Airlines. To calculate the price, use the calculator on Virgin America’s website.
You’ll have to calculate the price for the Chicago to San Francisco separately from the San Francisco to Seoul ticket.
Remember, Virgin America is a revenue-based frequent flyer program, so the cost of a flight on Virgin America depends on the price of a paid ticket.
But prices for partner awards are fixed and not based on paid ticket price.
Between New York and:
- Frankfurt – 20,000 points + $147 (12,000 points + $75 1-way)
- Singapore – 85,000 points + $281 (36,000 points + $142 1-way)
Between Houston and:
- Moscow – 40,000 points + $67 (24,000 points + $36 1-way)
- Singapore – 80,000 points + $117 (48,000 points + $61 1-way)
The award ticket between New York and Frankfurt stands out as quite a good value for a transatlantic flight.
If you spent $5,000 on your new Virgin America Premier Visa Signature credit card, you could get 1 round-trip Singapore Airlines coach class ticket to Europe! (15,000 point sign-up bonus + 5,000 points from spending).
Singapore Airlines also flies onward to cities in Asia, India, Australia, and New Zealand. You can redeem for these onward flights using Virgin America points.
c) What About Business Class?
While longer flights can be difficult (or impossible) to find in Business Class, shorter-haul routes tend to have award seats available. Virgin America actually has pretty good intra-Asia Business Class prices!
Below are the prices for some sample short-haul round-trip award tickets (1-way award tickets would cost 60% of the points and roughly half the taxes).
Between Singapore and:
- Bangkok – 6,000 points (coach) or 13,000 points (Business Class) + $51
- Denpasar (Bali) – 6,000 points (coach) or 13,000 points (Business Class) + $27
- Ho Chi Minh City – 6,000 points (coach) or 13,000 points (Business Class) + $47
Surprisingly, while Ho Chi Minh city costs only 6,000 points round-trip in coach and 13,000 points in Business Class, the price is much higher for Hanoi, another city in Vietnam (16,000 points in coach and 40,000 in Business Class). I really don’t get Virgin America’s pricing sometimes!
Here are some prices you can find for more regional flights:
Coach prices between Singapore and:
- Australia (Eastern, e.g. Sydney) – 20,000 points + $141 (12,000 points + $70 1-way)
- Australia (Western, e.g. Perth) – 16,000 points + $122 (9,600 points + $61 1-way)
- India – 16,000 points + ~$52 (9,600 points + ~$26 1-way) (fees vary depending on city)
- Maldives – 16,000 points + $46 (9,600 points + $23 1-way)
- New Zealand – 40,000 points + ~$65 (24,000 points + ~$33 1-way) (fees vary depending on city)
If you wanted to book a flight between the US and another destination in Asia (like Bangkok), you would add the prices for 2 award tickets, like US to Singapore plus Singapore to Bangkok.
d) Singapore Booking Example – Coach Class
i) Finding Award Seats
I tried booking an award ticket from Chicago to Seoul using Virgin America and Singapore Airlines. Because Singapore Airlines only flies to Seoul from San Francisco, I 1st had to find available coach class seats between San Francisco and Seoul.
There are 2 sites you can use to search for Singapore Airlines award tickets. One is the ANA website, and the other is Air Canada Aeroplan. The United Airlines website does not show Singapore Airlines award flights.
I like using the ANA website because you can ask the ANA tool to search only Singapore Airlines flights. Doing this removes other flights that can’t be booked with Virgin America points. I’ve written a tutorial on how to use the ANA website to find award seats on Singapore Airlines.
Note: You’ll need at least 100 ANA miles in your account to search for awards on Star Alliance airlines. But read my ANA tutorial to learn the workaround!
I 1st selected “Use the Single Airline” on ANA’s website, which allows you to search only Singapore Airlines.
Then choose Singapore Airlines.
Then, I searched for tickets between San Francisco (SFO) and Seoul – Incheon (ICN).
After that, I selected “Display 7 Days” so that I could see award seats on the San Francisco to Seoul flight 1 week at a time.
I saw lots of award seats available!
ii) Booking Award Seats
I found several dates with available award seats, then called Virgin America at 877-359-8474. They have an automated system. First, I asked to be transferred to “Elevate,” then asked for “Reward Travel,” then stated I wanted a “Partner” flight.
This transferred me to the Virgin America partner desk. The 1st couple of times I called, the wait was long and an agent who could do partner bookings wasn’t actually available! This could have been because the weather was bad and Virgin America’s phone lines were swamped.
However, I called a couple of times after, and my wait was less than 5 minutes each time for an agent. I explained to the agent that I wanted to book a flight from Chicago to San Francisco to Seoul using Virgin America and Singapore Airlines.
Using the ANA tool, I had found coach award seats available on most days for the weeks I searched. I wanted to see what award seats Virgin America sees, so I asked if they could check if any seats were available for the same weeks.
I was placed on hold for about 8 minutes. The agent came back and said that the award flights was available on the same days.
This showed me that you should be able to use the ANA or Aeroplan websites to search for available award seats on Singapore Airlines using Virgin America points!
Flights from San Francisco to Seoul cost 40,000 points + $38 round-trip in coach. But then you have to add the price of a Virgin America ticket, which depends on the cost of a paid ticket.
But that also means you can book a Virgin America award ticket with points as long as there is a seat available!
The Virgin America agent should be able to add your domestic Virgin America award ticket to your Singapore Airlines itinerary.
Even if you don’t have enough points, you can hold a ticket for 24 hours, allowing you to top off your account using American Express Membership Rewards points. For an agent to check for award seats, they’ll need your frequent flyer number, so be sure to have your Virgin America Elevate number ready.
Within 24 hours, you can cancel an award booking for free. After 24 hours, there is a $100 fee to cancel and get your points back. There was no phone booking fee (which is great, because I really don’t like phone booking fees when there’s no option to book online!).
It should be noted that it takes Virgin America 24 to 48 hours to confirm partner bookings, so this may not be a good idea for last-minute tickets.
e) Singapore Booking Example – First and Business Class
i) Finding Award Seats
While Singapore Airlines does not usually release First or Business Class award seats to partner airlines on long haul flights, they do tend to release space on shorter flights. You can use the ANA tool (or Aeroplan.com) to search for these flights.
I used the ANA tool to search for seats between Singapore and Bangkok in Business Class.
ii) Booking Award Seats
I asked the Virgin America agent to search for available flights on Singapore Airlines from Singapore to Bangkok in Business Class. The agent responded with flights that matched what the ANA website showed!
The agent noted that a 1-way ticket from Singapore to Bangkok (about a 2 hour flight) would cost 7,800 points + ~$26 in Business Class, which is exactly what the website says.
iii) What About Booking First Class?
The Virgin America representative I spoke with says that Singapore Airlines no longer releases First Class award seats to partner airlines.
That said, in the past I’ve occasionally (rarely) found First Class partner award seats on short-haul intra-Asia routes, like Singapore to Delhi.
I did a dummy search for several short haul routes from Singapore on various dates, and didn’t find any available seats.
So if you want to fly First Class on Singapore Airlines, your best bet is to use Singapore Airlines miles!
You can use Virgin America points to book flights on their partner airlines, like Singapore Airlines.
The number of points you need varies depending on the route. And you’ll pay taxes and fees, depending on the route and class of service.
The easiest way to see if award seats are available on Singapore Airlines is to use the ANA website. If you find award seats there, 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 see how to book Hawaiian Airlines award tickets using Virgin America points!