Virgin Atlantic miles aren’t the most celebrated airline currency, mainly because of the fuel surcharges imposed on most award flights. That being said, they can still come in handy, especially for partner flights. Normally, booking Virgin America flights with Virgin America Elevate points is the best way to go, since one-way awards are available for as few as 2,149 points each way. However, there are cases in which redeeming Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles works out better. I recently booked a Virgin America flight with Virgin Atlantic miles, which wasn’t quite as straightforward as I expected. Thus, I thought I’d share my experience with the booking process and things you should be aware of:
Why You Would Want to Book Virgin America Flights Using Virgin Atlantic Miles
Perhaps you’re short on Virgin America Elevate points, you want to conserve your Starwood points for hotel bookings, have lots of Ultimate Rewards points to spare, or American Express has a good promotion for Membership Rewards transfers to Elevate. These are all reasons why it might make sense to book a Virgin America flight using Virgin Atlantic miles. After all, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, which means points can be easily be earned via generous credit card sign-up bonuses and spending category bonuses. The best part? Point transfers are instant, so you don’t have to transfer Ultimate Rewards points speculatively or worry about getting them in time for an award redemption.
How to Redeem Virgin Atlantic Miles for Virgin America Flights
Redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles for Virgin America flights is slightly different than your typical award booking experience. Here’s how it works:
- Call Virgin Atlantic Flying Club at 1-800-365-9500
- When prompted, select Option 3, then Option 1.
- Notify the agent that you want to redeem miles for a Virgin America flight. It always helps if you have the flight number on hand.
- Please note that you cannot book a flight less than 72 hours before departure.
Here’s the major caveat: After the agent finds the flight you want, they will put it on hold and ask you to call back 24 hours later to confirm whether the flight is in fact available for booking. If it is, you proceed with the booking process, provide payment for taxes, and your miles are deducted from your account. In my case, I called around 26 hours later, but thankfully the ticket was still on hold and I was told we received the go-ahead to book.
The good thing about having to wait 24 hours for a confirmed booking is that it gives you enough time to transfer points from programs like Membership Rewards, which aren’t instant. The down side, obviously, is that you won’t be able to book a last minute ticket this way. And if the flight you want isn’t available when you call back 24 hours later, revenue fares might increase.
Things to Be Aware Of
There are a few other things you should be aware of when it comes to booking Virgin America flights with Virgin Atlantic miles. First, while the Virgin Atlantic website has an award chart displaying roundtrip redemption rates for Virgin America flights, this is not an accurate depiction of all the routes available. For example, San Francisco to Chicago flights aren’t even listed on the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club partner award chart, but it is a route operated by Virgin America and I was able to redeem miles for it. In case you’re wondering, award redemption rates for San Francisco to Chicago flights are as follows:
- Main Cabin: 20,000 Flying Club miles roundtrip
- Main Cabin Select: 30,000 Flying Club miles roundtrip
- Virgin America First Class: 40,000 Flying Club miles roundtrip
Another inaccuracy on the Virgin Atlantic website is the fine print under the award chart, which states “No one way rewards permitted.” This is false, as I was able to book a one-way award for half the number of miles required for a roundtrip.
I hope this is useful for those who are considering redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles for award flights on Virgin America. Being aware of the process (especially the 24 hour hold) will hopefully save you a lot of hassle when it comes time to book a flight.
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