For the next 11 months, you can fly from the Eastern United States to London for 13,000 Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards, or ThankYou Points plus $135. Or you can fly in Premium Economy that looks a lot like domestic First Class for 20,000 points and $265. From other parts of the country, you’ll pay only a few more miles.

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On some routes, award space is WIDE OPEN year round, including the heart of summer. Here is the award space for July 2017 from New York to London. Days with a red, white, and purple line–every single day–have award space in economy, Premium Economy, and Upper Class.

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Virgin Atlantic Awards

Virgin Atlantic flies to the UK from 12 US cities and offers great prices for award tickets in economy, Premium Economy, and Upper Class.

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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 September 22, 2016, Virgin Atlantic is discounting the miles price of economy and Premium Economy awards between North America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, India, Africa, and Asia and the UK by 30%. Upper Class awards are not discounted during this sale. Discounted award prices (one ways bookable for half the miles price):

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The cheapest awards are from Boston, New York, Newark, Washington-Dulles, Atlanta, Detroit, and Chicago at 12,250 miles one way in economy and 19,250 in Premium Economy. The rest of the country is 14,875 miles one way in economy and 24,500 in Premium Economy.screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-3-25-48-am

Book now to lock in the rate; you can book travel through August 11, 2017 at the discounted prices. There are also discounts to the rest of the world to and from London (roundtrip prices in economy, half price for one way.)

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Out-of-Pocket Price

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 those departure taxes 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, Atlanta, Detroit or Chicago to London will cost 12,250 miles + $135 in economy or 19,250 miles + $235 in Premium Economy, even over the heart of summer.

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The Western cities and Florida cost more miles, but have the same out-of-pocket charges.

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Those are manageable out-of-pocket prices that are very much worth paying to save a ton of miles over awards using other miles.

But let’s look at a return from London to the United States. Now a one way in economy is at least 12,250 miles + a ridiculous $238 and a one way in Premium Economy is 19,250 miles + an insane $393. On longer flights, it’s $258 and $411 in taxes and fuel surcharges in addition to the miles.

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By the way, here is Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy. Think “Domestic First Class,” and you won’t be too far off.

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 Chase Sapphire Reserve or Citi Prestige.

The Sapphire Reserve offers a $300 travel credit each calendar year to offset the first $300 in travel expenses you put on the card. If your taxes and fuel surcharges are less than $300, the entire amount will be credited back on your statement. If they are more than $300, $300 will be credited back.

The card also comes with 100,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months.

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.

Is This The Best Deal to Europe?

Other than WOW Air’s $99 fares from Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to Iceland, this is the best deal to Europe.

Here are some almost-as-good deals to Europe (copied from my list of the best awards between all regions):

Upper Class?

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. For instance, New York to London is 40k miles + $420, and Los Angeles to London one way is 50k miles + $464 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.

I think the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the best credit card offer ever.

It offers an astounding 100,000 Ultimate Rewards after $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, British Airways, Singapore, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, and more.

One hundred thousand points is enough for eight one way flights from the Eastern United States to London.

Recap

Europe is within reach for as little as 12,250 miles one way if you book in the next two weeks for trips for the next 11 months.

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