With the 25% transfer bonus from Citi ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles, one way awards to London start at 14,000 ThankYou Points. Flat bed Upper Class awards start at 32,000 ThankYou Points.

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Virgin Atlantic flies from 12 American cities to London.

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It also flies from the United States to Manchester, Glasgow, and Belfast.

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You can book Virgin Atlantic flights with Virgin Atlantic miles or Delta SkyMiles. The advantage of booking with Virgin Atlantic miles is that you need way fewer miles. Here is the roundtrip award chart to the United Kingdom with Virgin Atlantic miles. One way awards cost half the number of miles.

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The drawback is that Virgin Atlantic awards booked with Virgin Atlantic miles have fuel surcharges. When booked with Delta, there are no fuel surcharges, and I compare using the two types of miles below.

Questions answered in this post:

  • What are the award prices with Virgin Atlantic Miles?
  • How are the Premium Economy and Upper Class Products?
  • What are the fuel surcharges on the awards? What route has almost none?
  • How do you search Virgin Atlantic Award Space?
  • How do you transfer ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles? Is the transfer instant?
  • How do you book the Virgin Atlantic awards?
  • Should you use Delta or Virgin Atlantic miles to book Virgin Atlantic flights?

Award Prices in Miles

Virgin Atlantic charges unusually few miles from the United States to the United Kingdom–and that’s the only place in Europe that you can fly Virgin Atlantic, which is a longhaul carrier.

There are two award bands–one for nearer cities and one for farther cities.

From the following cities, you can fly a one way award to the United Kingdom for 17.5k/27.5k/40k Virgin Atlantic miles in economy/Premium Economy/Upper Class:

  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Newark
  • New York-JFK
  • Washington-Dulles
  • Chicago

That’s 14k/22k/32k Citi ThankYou Points. From most of those cities, the next cheapest economy option to Europe in miles is spending 20,000 American Airlines during its off peak award window. But this 14,000 ThankYou Point price is available for travel any time of year as long as you transfer your ThankYou Points before the transfer bonus ends on August 23, 2015.

Similarly spending only 22,000 ThankYou Points for Premium Economy is incredible compared to paying 30,000 United/Delta/American miles to Europe in regular economy. Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic is like flying domestic First Class.

Finally paying 32,000 ThankYou Points for a one way in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class to Europe is outrageously good. That’s basically what most airlines charge for economy, and you’re getting a flat bed, Clubhouse access, and access to an onboard bar.

From the rest of the United States, you can fly a one way award to the United Kingdom for 21.25k/35k/50k Virgin Atlantic miles in economy/Premium Economy/Upper Class:

  • Miami
  • Orlando
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco

That’s 17,000 ThankYou Points one way in economy, 28,000 ThankYou Points one way in Premium Economy, and 40,000 ThankYou Points one way in Upper Class.

Oddly, Detroit to London is not on the award chart at all, and the booking form explicitly says you cannot use miles to book the flight. This is particularly strange since Detroit to London was just part of an award sale on Virgin Atlantic.

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Fuel Surcharges

The miles prices are the good news. The fuel surcharges are the bad news.

  • One way awards in economy to London have fuel surcharges of $129.
  • One way awards in Premium Economy to London have fuel surcharges of $229.
  • One way awards in Upper Class to London have fuel surcharges of $414 or $452, depending on flight length.

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I consider fuel surcharges on awards a junk fee and a cash grab. I am never happy to pay them, but I am not foolish enough never to pay them.

Even after the fuel surcharges, Virgin Atlantic awards have significant value, especially during the 25% transfer bonus from ThankYou Points.

I’d rather fly Chicago to London for 22,000 ThankYou Points (transferred to Virgin Atlantic) and $234 in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy than 28,000 ThankYou Points (transferred to Singapore Airlines) and $5 in United economy. The $229 extra is a small price to pay for more space, better food, and saving 6,000 ThankYou Points (which I value at $108.)

As always, use your ThankYou Points only if you are getting enough value for them. I’d only use ThankYou Points if I were getting at least 1.6 cents of value since you can always use ThankYou Points like cash to buy American Airlines tickets at a rate of 1.6 cents per point.

How do you figure what value the award is giving you for your ThankYou Points?

Use this simple expression:

(A – B) / (C + D)

  • A: Value of the award. Important: this is the lesser of the cash price and your subjective value.
  • B: Taxes and fuel surcharges on the award
  • C: ThankYou Points used on the award
  • D: Miles you would earn if you purchased the award ticket with cash

This will spit out the dollar value you are getting for your miles. If that number is greater than 0.016, and you can book the dream award now, transfer ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles and book.

Hong Kong

Awards to Hong Kong have very low fuel surcharges, which is useful if Hong Kong to London can be part of a round-the-world trip for you. The awards cost just 25k/40k/60k miles in economy/Premium Economy/Upper Class with taxes plus fuel surcharges of $49.

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That’s 20,000, 32,000, and 48,000 ThankYou Points + $49 during the 25% transfer bonus.

Why are all the prices mentioned one way to the United Kingdom?

Flying out of the United Kingdom incurs humungous taxes, about $300 one way in Premium Economy or Business Class, as I covered today in List of Award Taxes from Major Cities in Europe, So You Return from Low Tax Countries. I would only ever book Virgin Atlantic flights to London with Virgin Atlantic miles. Then I’d return from a low tax country in Europe on a separate award with a different type of miles.

Searching Award Space

Award space is not great, but it is present on all routes I checked in all cabins. The best award space is in economy and Premium Economy.

To search award space one month at a time, fill in the search form on the Virgin Atlantic home page and select “Spend your miles.”
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Results look like this. At the bottom of each date are colors that signify award space.
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Red is economy, white is Premium Economy, and purple is Upper Class.Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 3.52.00 PM

Find a date that has the award space you want and click Continue.Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 3.53.58 PM You’ll see the miles needed and the total in taxes and fuel surcharges. If you click Flight Info, you can see the aircraft.

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You can find seat maps on Seat Guru. Most of the planes, including the 787-9 Dreamliner, have Upper Class in a 1-1-1 configuration. I’d pick and A seat since G and K share an aisle. I’d pick a seat up front to avoid the noise from the bar behind 10G.

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Source: http://www.seatguru.com/airlines/Virgin_Atlantic_Airways/Virgin_Atlantic_Airways_B787-900.php

Transferring ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic Miles

Sign into thankyou.com and go to the page listing the 11 airline transfer partners.
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You can transfer in increments of 1,000 points and receive 1,250 miles.

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Two (1, 2) FlyerTalkers report their Virgin Atlantic miles posting in less than 24 hours. It’s unlikely, but award space could disappear in that time. Have a back up plan to use the miles if that happens.

Booking the Awards

When your miles post, head back to Virgin-Atlantic.com, rerun your search, and book there. Use a card with no foreign transaction fees, since purchases from foreign airlines often code as a foreign transaction even when denominated in dollars.

Pay your award taxes and fuel surcharges with the Citi Prestige® Card. The first $250 in award taxes, fuel surcharges, airfare, or airline fees per calendar year are refunded to you as a statement credit. If you’ve already maxed out the statement credit, you will still earn 3x ThankYou Points on the award taxes and fuel surcharges.

Use Delta Miles Instead?

Delta miles can book Virgin Atlantic award space in economy and Upper Class, but not Premium Economy. Awards cost 30,000 Delta miles one way in economy and 62,500 Delta miles in Upper Class.

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There are two advantages to using Delta miles.

  1. No fuel surcharges on the awards
  2. You can connect to Delta/Alaska flights in the United States and SkyTeam partners in London.

Do the math–add the out of pocket costs to the number of miles or points used times your value of those miles or points–to see whether you get a better deal with Delta miles or ThankYou Points transferred to Virgin Atlantic miles.

  • You’ll almost certainly get a better deal in economy with ThankYou Points transferred to Virgin Atlantic miles because you save 16,000 or 13,000 miles for only a $129 fuel surcharge.
  • You’ll definitely get a better deal in Premium Economy with ThankYou Points transferred to Virgin Atlantic miles, since Delta miles can’t book that cabin.
  • In Upper Class, it will come down to which route you want and how much you value ThankYou Points vs. Delta miles.

Getting Thank You Points to Transfer to Virgin Atlantic Miles

These two cards offer over 106,000 ThankYou points total for meeting their minimum spending requirements. You can get both as long as you apply at least eight days apart.

Bottom Line

Yes, Virgin Atlantic awards have fuel surcharges, but they also have incredibly low miles prices. During the 25% Citi ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic mile transfer bonus, you can book these awards for even cheaper.

Use these deals to fly one way to Europe, then return home on a separate award with a different type of miles from a low tax country.

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