Here’s a great deal to Europe with miles: you can fly from the Eastern United States to London for 13,000 Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards, or ThankYou Points plus $135. From other parts of the country, you’ll pay only a few more miles.
On some routes, award space is WIDE OPEN year round, including the heart of summer 2016. Here is the award space for July 2016 from New York to London. Days with a red, white, and purple line have award space in economy, Premium Economy, and Upper Class.
Virgin Atlantic flies to the UK from 12 US cities and offers great prices for award tickets in economy, Premium Economy, and Upper Class.
The normal prices are only:
- 17,500+ miles in economy to London, depending on starting city
- 27,500+ miles in Premium Economy to London, depending on starting city
- 40,000+ miles in flat bed Upper Class to London, depending on starting city
Two Week Sale on Economy and Premium Economy Awards
Until May 11, 2016, Virgin Atlantic is discounting the miles price of economy awards between North America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, India, Africa, and Asia and the UK by 30%. Neither Premium Economy nor Upper Class awards are discounted during this sale. Discounted award prices (one ways bookable for half the miles price) originating in the US:
Book now to lock in the rate; you can book travel through March 27, 2017 at the discounted prices.
This is not the first time we’ve seen Virgin Atlantic run a very similar sale. In just February of this year, they were offering the same 30% discount on Economy and Premium Economy awards between the same cities and London.
ThankYou Points and Membership Rewards (1:1 transfer parters of Virgin Atlantic) have both offered transfer bonuses of 25% to 35% to Virgin Atlantic miles in the past.
You can stack a transfer bonus and an award sale though they haven’t overlapped in the past.
For example, if last summer’s 25% transfer bonus of ThankYou Points happens again, you could transfer 10,000 ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles, and those 12,500 Virgin Atlantic miles (10,000 x 1.25) would be enough to book a one way award to London today! Although this kind of speculative transferring always comes with the risk that either the 30% off sale doesn’t happen again (which wouldn’t be so bad considering the normal rate would run you just 5,000 more miles), or you can’t find award space.
Virgin Atlantic awards have fuel surcharges. You cannot avoid them.
Virgin Atlantic roundtrip awards will feature a departure from Great Britain, which will incur exorbitant taxes. You can easily avoid them by using this sale to book one way awards to London only. Then use a different type of miles to return from a low tax city in Europe. You see more of Europe for very few miles and very low out of pocket expense.
For instance, a one way award from New York, Newark, Boston, DC, or Chicago to London will cost 12,250 miles + $135 in economy, even over the heart of summer.
That is a manageable out-of-pocket price that is very much worth paying to save a ton of miles over awards using other miles.
Strategy to Lower or Eliminate Out-of-Pocket Price
To reiterate, just book the eastbound to London during this sale. Book the westbound return from somewhere cheaper in Europe with a different type of miles, perhaps United or American. (Get between London and Europe on a train or a low cost carrier.)
You can even eliminate the out-of-pocket cash needed by paying for the Virgin Atlantic Award with your Citi Prestige® Card.
The Citi Prestige® Card offer a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year that offsets your first $250 in spending on airlines with the card. Taxes and fuel surcharges on an award ticket definitely count. If your taxes and fuel surcharges are less than $250, the entire amount will be credited back on your statement. If they are more than $250, $250 will be credited back.
The card also comes with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $4,000 in the first three months, which can be transferred to Flying Blue miles.
Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card
Is This The Best Deal to Europe?
Here are some almost-as-good deals (copied from my list of the best awards between all regions):
- with 20,000 Alaska miles on American Airlines flights from October 15 to May 15
- with 20,000 Etihad miles on American Airlines flights during the same off peak dates
- with 12,500 Air France Flying Blue Miles plus 50 euros in fuel surcharges when booked 1-3 months in advance from rotating American cities (Promo Awards)
Luxury lovers will want to know about the prices in Upper Class to Europe on Virgin Atlantic, since Upper Class is a fantastic business class product.
Unfortunately the current 30% discount does not apply to Upper Class, so the fuel surcharges and miles required to fly Upper Class are about triple economy. At those prices, I don’t think Upper Class is a great deal unless you are miles poor and cash rich at the moment. For instance, New York to London is 40k miles + $420, and Los Angeles to London one way is 50k miles + $458 in Upper Class.
Getting the Miles
Virgin Atlantic is a 1:1 transfer partner of ThankYou Points, Ultimate Rewards, and Membership Rewards plus Virgin Atlantic issues an American credit card with a “90,000 mile” sign up bonus.
The Citi Prestige® Card is offering 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
The Sapphire Preferred Card offers 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. While I can not directly link to the current Sapphire Preferred offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)
Searching for and Booking the Award
You can search award space one month at a time right on the Virgin Atlantic home page. You don’t even need to be a member of the Flying Club to search. Just fill in the search form and select “Spend your miles.”
Whatever space you find this way is bookable with Flying Club miles, there are no blackout dates for this sale. You can also book right on virginatlantic.com.
Results look like this. At the bottom of each date are colors that signify award space.
Europe is within reach for as little as 12,250 miles one way if you book in the next week for trips for the next 11 months. Where will you go this summer?