Category Archives: Credit Cards

Virgin Atlantic Bargains and Current Availability: NEW Amex MR 30% Transfer Bonus: Business Class for 39K Points to Europe, 35K to South America, 97K to New Zealand, or First Class (The Suite) for 85K (RT) to Japan




UPDATE 12.9.19: The AMEX MR 30% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic is ON again! The bonus is valid until Dec 28 2019.

This post has been thoroughly revised to reflect the new options and current award space. 

A lot of people don’t take Virgin Atlantic miles seriously and I used to be one of them.

Virgin Atlantic is not everyone’s cup of tea. It adds god-awful scamcharges to award redemptions, and, besides, its Upper Class is not all that awesome. Yes, the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at JFK was among my best lounge experiences ever, but up in the air it’s just OK. I did like the service and sexy uniforms, but I found my bed claustrophobic, the TV screen antiquated, and the bar area cramped and uncomfortable. I know, it’s kind of ridiculous to complain about any seat that allows you to transport yourself from one continent to another in a state of a horizontal bliss, but, oh well.

But the thing is, you don’t need to use Virgin Atlantic miles for Virgin Atlantic flights. In fact, using Virgin Atlantic miles on Virgin Atlantic is a huge waste of miles and money. Our British cousins might’ve been conditioned long and hard into doling out hundreds if not thousands of YQ or as-they-now-call-it Carrier Imposed Surcharges but I choose to believe those silly airline announcements saying “you have a choice.”

And it’s true: you really do have a choice.

The 30% Citi ThankYou transfer bonus turns a good redemption rate into a mind-blowing value

The Amex Membership Rewards portal is offering the 30% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic — AGAIN! This bonus is valid until Dec 28 2019.

I’ve written extensively about some otherworldly award redemptions you can find on Virgin Atlantic partner airlines with the 30% transfer bonus. Virgin Atlantic miles can take you almost anywhere in the world. South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, South Pacific, you name it. The most difficult part is to make up your mind.

Use Virgin Atlantic miles for Business Class on Delta: 70,000 Citi points to South America, 77,000 points to Europe, or 93,000 points to Asia per ROUNDTRIP! 

You can fly in Business Class to Europe on Delta (and not just in Business, but in a new famous Delta suite if the stars align your way) for transferring 77,000 Citi points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. To Hawaii for 58,000 Citi points. To South America for 70,000 Citi points. Here, take a closer look. (The table only mentions MR points, but that was before Citi offered the same transfer bonus.)

American Express Transfer Bonus

You can fly one-way on Delta for half the miles, but don’t originate your flight in Europe to avoid draconian surcharges

Of course, you won’t be able to book whatever you want, so let’s manage our expectations. Getting a Business Class award on the premium transcontinental routes or to Hawaii is extremely difficult if not outright impossible. Economy awards are easy to find, though.

Europe and Asia, on the other hand, are doable even in Business Class.

UPDATE 12.9.19: Virgin Atlantic has added more world airports to its online database — crossed-out cities above are now searchable.

Just keep in mind that Virgin Atlantic doesn’t bother to list all countries and cities Delta flies to. You can now find Madrid or Barcelona, Berlin, Frankfurt, or Rome (still can’t see Rome from some cities like Boston), but not all of them, like Seoul, Reykjavik and many others, so you’ll have to call. Checking out the Delta page won’t tell you the whole story.

Start your search here: Virgin Atlantic. Don’t bother with any other links. You can try looking for a bunch of flights on the Delta site first, but in my experience, availability might not match. And don’t fret — Virgin’s agents have gotten much better at finding partners awards over the years.

Please remember:

  • There are absolutely no free stopovers or open jaws
  • Virgin Atlantic miles work best with NONSTOP flights. Every additional segments adds the number of points.
  • Do not use VS miles to fly to or via the UK — you’ll pay dearly for the fuel surcharges

Searching Delta flights on the Virgin Atlantic website is really easy, since they offer a calendar search. It’s a bit quirky, though, which is why just keep it simple, like this.

Current award space for Delta flights

I gave myself a tall order trying to find availability for at least 2 Business Class award seats per flight. That was a tedious manual work. I loved it!

While there are bits of eligibility beyond these itineraries here and there, especially if you’re traveling solo, I’ve found the best award space for the following routes and months.

There is excellent award space for 2 from JFK to Madrid in the heat of summer vacation season. 77,000 MR points per RT.

Boston to Rome: 77,000 MR points per RT.

Even though the screenshot below shows New York to Rome flights, they are all via Boston, which is why you see this weird 72.5K price per one way (remember that whenever there is more than one segment you pay more). So why don’t I show you the flights from Boston? Because I can’t. Rome (FCO) doesn’t show in the VS search engine when you set Boston as the departure point. So you will have to call Virgin Atlantic to book this one. 77,000 MR points per RT.

Minneapolis to Amsterdam: 77,000 MR points per RT.

Atlanta to Rio de Janeiro: 70,000 MR points per RT.

Are Delta One Suites still available on awards?

Yes, some. Availability has gone down since the last time I checked, although a super-flexible solo traveler stands a good chance to hit a jackpot. Delta has installed Suites on the following routes (please let me know if I’ve missed something).

Europe (ignoring London due to YQ scamcharges):

  • Atlanta — Amsterdam (from 05.2020)
  • Atlanta — Paris (from 03.2020)
  • Detroit – Amsterdam
  • Los Angeles — Paris
  • Minneapolis — Paris
  • Minneapolis — Amsterdam
  • New York (JFK) — Nice (04.2020)


  • Atlanta — Seoul
  • Atlanta — Shanghai
  • Atlanta — Tokyo (NRT)
  • Detroit – Tokyo (NRT)
  • Detroit – Seoul
  • Detroit – Shanghai
  • Detroit – Beijing
  • Los Angeles — Tokyo (HND)
  • Los Angeles — Shanghai
  • Minneapolis — Tokyo (HND)
  • Minneapolis — Seoul
  • New York (JFK) — Mumbai (nothing till the end of the schedule)
  • Seattle — Tokyo (NRT)
  • Seattle — Shanghai
  • Seattle — Seoul


  • Atlanta — Buenos Aires


  • Los Angeles — Sydney (nothing till the end of the schedule)

For more information including the flight numbers for Delta One Suite aircraft check Premium Flights.

I’ve found some suites availability (for 2 people) on flights to Shanghai from LA, Seattle and Atlanta.

Los Angeles to Shanghai: 93,000 Amex MR points.

Make sure you get the right plane. Look for DL89 departing at 10:14AM.

I’ve also managed to find award space for a Suite from Minneapolis to Amsterdam, but most flights won’t be on a “suite-friendly” A350. 🙂 Look for DL160 departing at 5:10PM.

And always keep in mind that all carriers can replace their equipment at any time and for any reason anyway.


Use Virgin Atlantic miles in Business Class on Air New Zealand: transfer 97,000 Citi points for flight to Auckland

You can use 97,000 Amex MR points per round trip to fly on Air New Zealand in Business Class between the U.S. and New Zealand. Finding Air New Zealand award space is really hard, but not impossible if you are flexible and can go on a short notice. Air New Zealand usually releases awards within the next 3-6 weeks. Look on the United website and call Virgin Atlantic to inquire.

Use Virgin Atlantic miles on ANA First Class to Japan

UPDATE 12.9.19: Use Virgin Atlantic miles to book a new spectacular ANA’s “The Suite.”

This is the Holy Grail of Virgin Redemptions. You can fly to Japan for 85,000 Citi points in First Class from the West Coast and for 93,000 points from the East Coast per round-trip.! That’s an insane value – especially since you can now redeem your award on a newly redesigned ANA First Class cabin, dubbed “The Suite!” The newly reconfigured 777-300R featuring The Suite debuted on a route between New York (JFK) and Tokyo (HND). Look for the flight number 109 from New York and 110 from Tokyo.

Note: not all planes have been retrofitted. To make sure you’re getting The Suite, go to the ANA website and enter your dates. When you see the result, check the left part under the “Details.” If it doesn’t say “The Suite,” you’re not getting it. For example, this flight doesn’t have a suite.

While this one departing 2 days later does.

Here is what you pay in Amex MR points from the West and East Coasts

Virgin Atlantic Miles

The flight to South Pacific you’re seeing here is to Rarotonga — it’s a fifth freedom Air New Zealand flight from LAX

Just do yourself a favor and don’t waste your Virgin Atlantic miles on Business Class travel. You can actually transfer AMEX points to ANA and get a similar value in Business (70,000 ANA miles in low season). The point difference between Business and First in Virgin Atlantic miles is not that big, so indulge yourself.

Let’s Recap

  • If you’re still on the fence about transferring your MR points to Virgin Atlantic, the deadline is Dec 28, 2019!
  • Consider transferring your miles if you’re interested in flying Business Class to Europe, Asia, or South America for up to 50% less than what it costs with other programs.
  • Choose First Class on ANA rather than Business — the cost difference is not that big.
  • Use Virgin Atlantic miles on partners, such as Delta, ANA, or Air New Zealand.
  • Use Virgin Atlantic miles on nonstop or direct flights only (see this post). Every segment costs separately, so avoid them.
  • If you don’t live in or near one of the international hubs, you’ll have to use a positioning flight.
  • Don’t transfer speculatively for transcontinental U.S. and Hawaii premium flights — the award space is abysmal.

Share your stories of transferring your MR or TU points to Virgin Atlantic. How did it work out for you?



The New 50,000 Expedia Rewards Voyager Credit Card’s Offer Review in Detail – an Unexpected Gem!

  UPDATE: Now 70,000 Points Until Today, Dec 2 (last day for up to $994 in hotel stays!) GONE! Never mind. 50,000 is still a great deal! The Link (HT: DoC) Direct Link to the Offer I don’t like Expedia. They burned me a couple of years ago, and I haven’t booked with them everContinue Reading

Iberia Business Class Service Has Gotten Better and a Short Review of Iberia T4S Lounge in Madrid

  I’ve been a huge fan of Iberia Business Class since the airline completely revamped its Business Class seats a few years ago. Iberia now sports a staggered Solstis 1-2-1 configuration with an excellent footwell that really allows you to sleep in whatever position you want without your feet fighting each other for a tinyContinue Reading

This New/Old Credit Card Bonus Can Fly You in Business All Over the World

  UPDATE: South African has suspended flights between Washington DC and Dakar. Another Unicorn redemption has bitten the dust! 🙁 (Thanks: TimmyD). Important Update: Virgin Atlantic added more airports to its online booking system. For example, you had to call to book an award flight to Latin America (ex Rio and São Paulo) — notContinue Reading

Fly to Europe for 25,000 Miles in Business Class, Plus Award Space Update, and More!

  The 40% Amex Iberia transfer bonus is here again. Amex also extends the same bonus to British Airways and Aer Lingus, but the best Unicorn-like way to use this bonus is flying Business Class on Iberia. Flights between the U.S. and Madrid start at 72,000 Avios per round trip. That’s already quite generous, andContinue Reading

UPDATED 8.3.2019: (Book by Phone) Lie-Flat Seats on United in the U.S./North America for 12,500/15,000 Points

  IMPORTANT UPDATE: You can now redeem Turkish partners’ awards over the phone. This is yet another game changer because the Turkish award chart has some amazing and very unique sweet spots. HT Nick @Frequent Miler and VFTW. Recently Nick Reyes from Frequent Flyer shared an amazing find: some time ago, the Turkish Miles andContinue Reading

Are Spirit Miles Worth More Than Magazine Subscriptions? I’ll Help You Decide!

  This post has been born out of my most recent screw-up. A couple of months ago I canceled my Netflix subscription. Why was that a screw-up, you might ask. Well, here is the timeline. I cancel my Netflix subscription starting June 1. It fell off my BoA Spirit credit card automatic payments. Since IContinue Reading

Update: Almost EVERYTHING You’ve Heard About the Latest Hilton Honor Devaluation Is True! Hilton Honor Points in Asia, Africa and the Middle East — Any Deals Left?

UPDATED 6.2019 Please check my previous update to understand the methodology and the reasons for these updates. In brief, I intend to keep updating these posts periodically or after every devaluation to document never-ending Hilton Honors “enhancements.” Look for red ink for the latest updates. Previous Update:  Update: Almost EVERYTHING You’ve Heard About the LatestContinue Reading

The New Sonesta Credit Card Review (65,000-95,000 Points) and 7 Best Redemptions

So there is a new kid on the block — the Bank of America Sonesta World Mastercard. I have never stayed at a Sonesta so I had to educate myself on the merits and peculiarities of this hotel chain. After digging into Sonesta, I can tell you one thing: I’d go for the Sonesta creditContinue Reading

Update: Hilton Honors Points at Top Hilton Hotels

Previous posts: Update: Hilton Honors Points in the Americas and Europe Update: Hilton Honors Points Worth in Asia, Africa and the Middle East UPDATED 4.21. 2019 Look for the RED. When you see RED it means changes (mostly, but not always, for the worse). This is the final part of my long-winded Hilton Hotels saga,Continue Reading

Copyright © 2020 2013-2017 All Rights Reserved. 


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers