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INSIDER SECRET: Virgin Atlantic miles are most valuable when you redeem for flights on partner airlines and avoid flights departing their London hub.
As with most points and miles currencies, your Virgin Atlantic miles value is variable. The value can depend on:
- How flexible you are with dates
- Which airline you redeem them on
- How easy (or difficult) it is for you to collect your miles
- Your personal valuation of your miles
You could boost your Virgin Atlantic miles balance right now with an increased, limited-time credit card offer on the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®. You can also increase your Virgin Atlantic miles account balance by transferring points from the four major transferable points programs:
Virgin Atlantic miles can be very valuable if you’re willing to work around their quirks, such as needing to book round-trip on some airlines or the sometimes exorbitant taxes and fees. Let’s look at what you can do with Virgin Atlantic miles:
Virgin Atlantic miles value: What are they worth?
Unfortunately, Virgin Atlantic only publishes a comprehensive award chart for flights to and from the UK, and in general, those award flights will not yield the best value for your miles.
For other airline partners, you’ll have to call Virgin Atlantic or do some additional research to learn how many miles an award flight might cost. For reference, you can redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for award flights on these airlines:
- Singapore Airlines
- Air New Zealand
- Virgin Australia
- South African Airways
- Air China
- Hawaiian Airlines
For award flights on Virgin Atlantic, I recommend running a test award search for a few routes and dates to get a feel for typical award pricing and availability. Virgin Atlantic has an easy-to-use tool where you can search for flights right on their home page without having to log in to an account.
For example, I found flights from the East Coast to Europe for as low as 10,000 Virgin Atlantic miles one-way in coach, plus taxes and fees of ~$150. These flights were selling for $700+, so the value here is ~5.5 cents per mile, which represents an excellent value with Virgin Atlantic’s mileage program.
But that’s just one example. Let’s look at a few more.
1. One-way award flights on Virgin Atlantic – Usually a solid value
Without a doubt, the worst part of redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles is the sometimes outrageous taxes and fees. For example, a one-way award flight from London to the United States might cost over ~$600 in addition to the miles you would redeem. Ouch!
That’s why I recommend that you use Virgin Atlantic miles for one-way flights, typically traveling towards London as opposed to departing London. Whether your travel originates in South Africa, Hong Kong, the United States, or any other Virgin Atlantic destination, you can get great value from your Virgin Atlantic miles when flying one-way towards London.
Those flights often have a high cash price for tickets, as Virgin Atlantic is well-regarded and generally doesn’t offer very cheap fares. For example, you could pay $621 for a one-way coach flight from Johannesburg to London.
Or, you could redeem 12,500 Virgin Atlantic miles plus ~$141 for the same flight, yielding a value of nearly 4 cents per point. That’s a great redemption and a fantastic example of redeeming points for one-way flights (while avoiding the United Kingdom’s hefty fees).
2. Domestic flights on Delta – Occasionally worth it
I ran a few test searches for business class and economy class seats domestically (within the U.S.), and had a hard time finding instances where Virgin Atlantic miles are worth more than 2 cents each. Typical values were closer to 1 or 1.5 cents per mile.
It’s sometimes tough to find the “low-level” Delta award space needed for flights to be bookable with Virgin Atlantic miles. But if you can find a route that has plenty of availability, you can redeem just 12,500 Virgin Atlantic miles for a coach flight within the U.S.
That can be a great deal or an average deal, depending on cash prices for the same flight. (But it’s interesting to see that for the same 12,500 miles you can fly across the United States or all the way from South Africa to London.)
3. Nonstop international award flights on Delta– Occasionally good value
If you can find nonstop international award flights on Delta, redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles for those flights can sometimes be a good deal. That’s because Virgin Atlantic prices award flights on most partners on a “segment by segment” basis, so every connecting flight will increase the cost.
You’ll still pay taxes and fees that are typically higher than with some other airline miles. For example, you can find some award flights from Europe to the U.S. on Delta that don’t include flying through the U.K., but these will only yield a decent value (typically in the range of ~1.25 cents per point) due to the increased taxes and fees.
With the increase in international flight sales recently, you may be better off saving your miles and paying cash. But keep your eyes peeled for expensive routings or peak travel dates when redeeming miles might be worth it.
4. International business and first class awards, especially on partner airlines – Typically an excellent value
As mentioned above, Virgin Atlantic’s sweet spot is redeeming for partner award flights on unique routings that are incredibly valuable. My absolute favorite use of Virgin Atlantic miles is for roundtrip business class or first class flights from the U.S. to Japan on partner airline ANA.
Not only is ANA an awesome airline with near-perfect service, the award flights are so reasonably priced you can very consistently get more than 10 cents per mile from your Virgin Atlantic miles. For example, you could book roundtrip first class flights from Los Angeles to Tokyo using just 110,000 Virgin Atlantic miles per person. That’s an outstanding deal.
Or, if your travel plans include roundtrip flights from London to Beijing, you can travel in First Class on Air China for just 75,000 miles round-trip. These are both unique routings and have some limitations, but the potential value is incredible.
One downside to Virgin Atlantic miles
Although Virgin Atlantic award flights are fairly easy to book, you’ll have to call in to book flights on many partner airlines. Phone agents are typically very competent, but it is more work than simply booking online. If you need to call Virgin Atlantic, you can reach agents 24/7 at 800-365-9500.
Decide on your own value for Virgin Atlantic miles
So far we’ve seen the typical value you’ll get for each Virgin Atlantic mile is between 1 and 2 cents. Anything over that is considered an especially good deal – while anything below that I would typically avoid.
In the end, how you value your miles is based on your personal preferences, how you redeem them and your personal travel goals.
In general, the more flexible you can be, the more your miles are worth. If your travel needs fit into one of these niche award flight redemptions, you can redeem your miles for fantastic value and fly in luxury for cheap.
And because you can transfer miles to Virgin Atlantic from various travel partners, miles are easier to accrue and thus more readily available. So when you find a good deal or an excellent deal, be sure to jump on it.
It’s not always clear how much value you’ll get from your Virgin Atlantic miles. But some redemptions are typically “safer” than others in that you’ll probably get solid value for your miles when redeeming for:
- One-way award flights on Virgin Atlantic to London
- Nonstop award flights on Delta
- International first and business class tickets, especially on airline partners such as ANA
With these, you’ll usually realize a value of 2+ cents for each Virgin Atlantic mile.
Less attractive award flight options include:
- Award flights departing London (because of high taxes and fees)
- Flights with multiple connections on partners like Delta
Here, you’ll usually see each mile worth less — typically about 1 cent each.
How much do you think Virgin Atlantic miles are worth?
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