Sorry, it’s taken me a while to finish the series. The 30% American Express transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic is over, but it shouldn’t stop you from considering transferring your AMEX points to Virgin Atlantic if you have a specific redemption in mind. We’ve already discussed the enormous value you might get using Flying Club miles for a business class flight to Africa, but there are more values where it comes from.
Air New Zealand to Auckland
I don’t think Virgin Atlantic adds a fuel surcharge on an inbound Air New Zealand redemption (there shouldn’t be a YQ for flights originating in New Zealand anyway), but even if there is a small charge, this would be a fantastic redemption. Award space is a larger concern. It does exist, but Air New Zealand releases a very limited inventory of Business Class award seats to partners and just a few weeks or months in advance.
There were only 5 Business Class flights available at the time of writing (for 2 or more people) in the next couple of months, but if you find award space, you can fly between the U.S. and New Zealand for 125,000 Virgin miles per round trip. Or you can go from LA to Rarotonga (Cook Islands) for 95,000 miles per RT. Air New Zealand flies to Auckland from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Houston, and Virgin Atlantic offers a much better redemption value going to the region than you can get on American, United, or (God forbid) Delta.
Jet Airways Business Class from Toronto to Amsterdam
Since Jet Airways terminated its flights to the U.S., there is only one value left for flights from North America. Jet Airways flies from Toronto to Delhi via Amsterdam (TIP: the value is not Delhi).
Since the Delhi flight is over 7,000 miles (expensive), but the Amsterdam flight, according to GCmap.com, fits in the Jet’s 3,799 miles band. That means you should be able to get this flight for 82,000 miles per roundtrip or 41,000 miles one way. That’s an excellent value for a Business Class award seat to Europe if it works for your travel plans.
ANA First Class from the U.S. to Japan
OK, flying in First Class on ANA is probably the best-known and best-touted way of using Virgin Atlantic miles. And understandably so – paying 110,000 to 120,000 miles for flying roundtrip to Japan in one of the best First Class cabins in the world is an amazing value.
Keep in mind, though, that if you need a round trip in Business Class on ANA, you’d better transfer your American Express points directly to ANA, not only because it may be cheaper depending on the season, but also for the ability of using connecting flights, stopovers, and open jaw. As we’ve already established, Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club is not the most flexible FF program in the world, to put it mildly.
Here is what flights to Japan cost you with ANA miles.
USA to Japan (depends on the season, round trip, can’t fly one way)
- Economy: 40,000-55,000
- Business: 75,000-90,000
- First: 150,000-165,000
I am a huge fan of ANA. Check my ANA series that starts here.
But for a First Class award seat, the value can’t be beat. And, for whatever reason, it’s easier to find ANA First Class award space than Business Class.
The reasons why Virgin Atlantic miles have “suddenly” become more valuable than before are simple. Delta redemptions are now available on Virgin’s website, and agents have “learned” to find award space on partners.
I started writing this series when a 30% American Express transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic was active. With that bonus, you could’ve had a lot of fun, and by fun, I mean cheap Business Class award seats.
The bonus is gone now, however, some Virgin Atlantic redemption levels are so good that you might still want to transfer your miles at 1:1. Here are the best values in Business Class.
- U.S. to southern South America – 45,000 miles one way, 90,000 miles round trip
- U.S. to Africa, Middle East, Asia – 60,000 miles one way, 120,000 round trip
No fuel surcharges for flights not originating from Europe. Search for Delta award space on the Air France website.
- Washington, DC to Dakar – 25,000 miles one way, 50,000 round trip! (UNICORN GRADE!)
- Johannesburg to Central / Northern Africa (Cameroon, Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania) – 25,000 miles one way, 50,000 round trip!
- Washington, DC to Johannesburg via Dakar with or without stopover – 50,000 miles one way, 100,000 round trip! (TOP UNICORN GRADE!)
Again, all the rates above are in business. And no fuel surcharges to boot. Search on United.
ANA First Class:
- U.S. West Coast to Japan – 110,000 round trip
- U.S. East Coast to Japan – 120,000 round trip
So, if you have any of these destinations in your crosshairs, you’ll do well even without a transfer bonus. And if you’re kicking yourself for not acting sooner, please don’t. American Express offers a 25%-30% bonus for MR points transfers to Virgin Atlantic roughly every 6 months. Expect the next one in the Spring of 2018 and stop beating yourself up.
Auckland: By: Kevin Dooley
Amsterdam: By: Michel Curi
Kyoto: By: syvwlch