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Update: Tomorrow is the last day to take advantage of this transfer bonus!
You can login here get a 30% bonus when you transfer American Express Membership Rewards Points to Virgin Atlantic until 12/28. The miles typically transfer instantly.
In general, Virgin Atlantic charges high fuel surcharges that kill the value of many of their awards.
For example a round-trip coach ticket from JFK to London on Virgin Atlantic is just 20K miles (under 16K AMEX points), but the taxes and fuel surcharges add $410. Premium Economy is 35K miles+$792. Business class is 95K miles and you’ll also owe $1,534 in taxes and fuel surcharges. Ouch!
If you only need a one-way ticket from NYC to London it’s not as bad. 10K miles+$149 in coach, 17.5K miles+$249 in premium economy, or 47.5K miles+$624 in business class.
You can save money by booking travel on 2 one-way trips. A one-way ticket from London to NYC is 10K miles+$248 in coach, 17.5K miles+$446 in premium economy, or 47.5K miles+$561 in business class.
Or for example a round-trip coach ticket from JFK to Tel Aviv on Virgin Atlantic is just 38K miles (under 30K AMEX points), but the taxes and fuel surcharges add $517. Premium Economy is 67K miles+$547. Business class is 151K miles and you’ll also owe $992 in taxes and fuel surcharges.
If you originate in Tel Aviv then the round-trip coach ticket from Tel Aviv to JFK on Virgin Atlantic is 38K miles plus $396. Premium Economy is 67K miles+$396. Business class is 151K miles plus $506.
If you only need a one-way ticket from NYC to Tel Aviv you’ll pay 19K miles+$239 in coach, 33.5K miles+$289 in premium economy, or 75.5K miles+$477 in business class.
You can save money by booking travel on 2 one-way trips. A one-way ticket from Tel Aviv to NYC is 19K miles+$217 in coach, 33.5K miles+$217 in premium economy, or 75.5K miles+$272 in business class.
Flying on Delta:
There are some notable sweet spots on partner airlines:
Virgin Atlantic miles can be a bargain for flying on Delta. They often have saver award space, even when there’s none available on Delta.com!
If you have problems typing in your desired airport you will need to click the location icon as shown below and manually search for your destination by country and state. If your destination still isn’t available you will have to call Virgin Atlantic to book award travel to that destination.
If the option to search for miles isn’t available you also may need to try selecting another airport, click on pay with miles, and then switch the airport. For example NYC to LAX didn’t work for me at first, but I switched the destination to San Francisco, clicked on pay with miles, and then switched back to Los Angeles.
On the search page you can select one-way or round-trip, exact dates, flexible within 1 week, or within 5 weeks. You can also change the class of service by clicking on “Show advanced options.” When you are viewing the award calendar you can toggle it to show direct flights only.
Here’s what’s fascinating. In general, partner airlines can only book saver awards.
If you search for JFK to TLV on 12/8 on Delta.com you’ll see that the award costs 160K miles. There’s a reason they’re called Skypesos.
But you can redeem 40K Virgin Atlantic miles for that same flight. That’s under 31K AMEX points with a 30% bonus:
Then again, Flying Blue can book that for 29K miles each way, though their expiration policies, account auditing, and customer service are not great.
Want to fly business class nonstop from JFK to Amsterdam?
Unfortunately, there are fuel surcharges to fly on Delta to London, but other destinations should have no fuel surcharges.
Note that the website charges extra for flights with connections. You can try calling Virgin Atlantic at 800-365-9500 to see if they can price the award without the extra pricing for taking a connecting flight.
Flying on ANA:
ANA is an incredible Japanese airline with great first class suites that have very comfortable beds and amazing service. I reviewed them here towards the end of the 4th part of my Island Hopper adventure.
New ANA First, with a 43″ 4K LED, a door for privacy, windows, and more:
The middle seats have a partition for privacy that goes up and down so that companions can talk to each other:
New ANA business:
Business class is staggered with forward and rear facing seats that also have privacy doors and middle partitions and go up and down:
You only need 110K miles to fly round-trip from the west coast to Japan or 120K miles to fly round-trip from the east coast to Japan in first class. That’s under 85K AMEX points or under 93K AMEX points respectively, thanks to the 30% bonus.
Virgin Atlantic now collects fuel surcharges on ANA, but they are relatively low.
Here is the Virgin Atlantic award chart for travel on ANA:
Unfortunately, you do need to call Virgin Atlantic to book travel on ANA at 800-365-9500. You can search for ANA award space on United.com.
Round-trip travel is required on ANA awards.
You can fly in ANA first class to Tokyo/Narita from Chicago, Houston, JFK, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Washington DC.
You can fly in ANA first class to Tokyo/Haneda from Chicago, JFK, or Los Angeles.
United charges a whopping 220K miles to fly round-trip from the US to Japan in ANA first class, but you can call Virgin Atlantic to book travel for under 93K AMEX points!
Search for first class saver awards on United.com and then call Virgin Atlantic to book:
AMEX cards with transferable points include:
- AMEX Blue Business Plus
- No annual fee, earns 2 points per dollar spent everywhere on up to $50K in annual spending. Rates and fees.
- AMEX Platinum Business
- $595 annual fee, earn 1.5 points per dollar on eligible $5K+ transactions, $200 in annual airline fee credits, $200 in annual Dell credits, 1 year WeWork Global Office Space, Marriott and Hilton Gold status, 35% points rebate on paid airfare redemptions, Global Entry/Pre-check, AMEX Global lounge collection access. Rates and fees.
- AMEX Gold Business Card
- $295 annual fee, 25% points rebate on paid airfare redemptions, earn 4 points per dollar on your most common spending categories each billing cycle. Rates and fees.
- AMEX Gold Consumer Card
- $250 annual fee, $100 in annual airline fee credits, earn up to 4 points per dollar.
- AMEX Platinum Consumer Card
- $550 annual fee, earn 5 points per dollar on airfare, $200 in annual airline fee credits, up to $200 in annual Uber credit, up to $100 in annual Saks credit, Marriott and Hilton Gold status, Global Entry/Pre-check, AMEX Global lounge collection access.
- AMEX Everyday Preferred Consumer Card
- $95 annual fee, earn between 1.5-4.5 points per dollar everywhere with 30+ monthly transactions.
- AMEX Everyday Consumer Card
- No annual fee, earn between 1.2-2.4 points per dollar everywhere with 20+ monthly transactions.
Will you transfer points from AMEX to Virgin Atlantic to take advantage of this bonus? What other award sweet spots do you take advantage of?