Virgin Atlantic, with its hub in London-Heathrow, is relatively small compared to its rival, British Airways. Still, with its all-widebody fleet of 41 aircraft, the carrier manages to operate a robust network of long-haul routes that span four continents.
In the US alone, Virgin Atlantic flies to 12 destinations, including the gateway cities of New York, Boston, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is the airline’s loyalty program that unlocks redemption possibilities on its well-regarded long-haul flights.
Plus, with Virgin Atlantic being recently inducted into SkyTeam, the program now lets its members redeem flights on alliance partners, including Korean Air, China Airlines, Middle East Airlines, and Xiamen Air to name a few.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything there is to know about Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, including how to optimize your earning and redeeming within the program.
Earning Virgin Points with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
There are a number of ways to earn Virgin Points, but aside from flying, the best way is by transferring points from a partner program.
Transferring from Other Programs
While the Bank of America used to offer Virgin Atlantic co-branded credit cards, they are no longer open for applications.
Still, you can accumulate Virgin Points in the US, since Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is a transfer partner of major credit card rewards programs. The following programs allow conversions at the rate of 1 point = 1 Virgin Point:
- American Express US Membership Rewards
- Bilt Rewards
- Capital One Miles
- Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Citi ThankYou Rewards
American Express, Chase, Citibank, and Capital One commonly offer transfer bonuses of up to 30% more points.
For most of these programs, you can transfer directly to your Flying Club account. However, for Capital One Miles, you must first transfer to Virgin Red, which is explained in detail below.
Marriott Bonvoy points could also be converted to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club at a rate of 3 Bonvoy points = 1 Virgin Point, with a bonus of 5,000 points for every 60,000 Bonvoy points transferred.
Even with the bonus, it’s an unfavourable exchange altogether, so you should only convert your Marriott Bonvoy points to Virgin Points when you need a top-up on a planned redemption. Otherwise, you should save your Bonvoy points for aspirational hotel and resort stays.
Other than Marriott Bonvoy, you could also transfer points from the following hotel programs at suboptimal rates:
- Hilton Honors: 10 points = 1.5 Virgin Points
- IHG One Rewards: 10 points = 2 Virgin Points
- World of Hyatt: 5 points = 3 Virgin Points
Flying with Virgin Atlantic
When you fly with Virgin Atlantic, the number of Virgin Points you’ll earn is based on the distance you’re flying, as well as the booking class of your ticket. You’ll also earn more Virgin Points as an elite member of Flying Club.
As an example, let’s take a one-way New York to London flight, with an approximate distance of 3,450 miles. You’ll earn the following Virgin Points as an entry-level Red member:
- Economy Light: 431 (lowest and flexible)
- Economy Classic: 863 (lowest) or 2,589 (flexible)
- Economy Delight: 2,589 (lowest and flexible)
- Premium: 1,726 (lowest) or 3,453 (flexible)
- Upper Class: 3,453 (lowest) or 6,906 (flexible)
To know how many Virgin Points you’ll earn on upcoming flights, you can use the Flying Club earning calculator.
Flying with Partner Airlines
When you fly on a paid ticket with one of Virgin Atlantic’s partners, you can credit your miles to your Flying Club account and earn Virgin Points. In order to do so, you must add your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club number during booking or check-in.
Virgin Atlantic is a new member of SkyTeam; thus, you now can earn miles with any of its alliance partners. The airline also partners with a few non-alliance carriers, as noted below.
When flying with partner airlines, the number of Virgin Points you’ll earn depends on the airline you’re flying with, as each airline has its own accrual policies.
Linking with Virgin Red
Virgin is a worldwide brand that involves several industries, from entertainment to space exploration. The Virgin Group, founded by Richard Branson, holds a stake in most subsidiaries, but the company also licenses the branding alone.
In the case of Virgin Atlantic, the Virgin Group holds a 51% stake, with the rest owned by Delta Air Lines.
To encourage loyalty to the Virgin brand, the Virgin Group came up with an encompassing loyalty program called Virgin Red. While anyone can join Virgin Red, the program is currently focused for those living in the UK and the US.
Virgin Red and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club accounts could be linked to take advantage of earning and redeeming opportunities from both programs, which earn Virgin Points of equal value.
With Virgin Red, you can earn points with other Virgin companies, such as Virgin Balloons, Virgin Trains Ticketing, Virgin Hotels, and Virgin Wines.
You can also earn Virgin Points through the program’s online shopping portal. US-based online stores include Apple Store, iTunes, Clinique, and the Home Depot.
Buying Virgin Points
The quickest way to add to your Virgin Points balance is by buying them directly from Virgin Atlantic. However, keep in mind that you must already have one flying activity before being eligible to purchase points.
The amount you’ll have to pay will depend on where your Flying Club account is registered:
- If you registered in the US, it’ll cost you $25 (USD) per 1,000 Virgin Points with a transaction fee of $22 (USD). Without the transaction fee, a Virgin Point costs 2.5 cents per point (USD).
- If you registered in the UK, it’ll cost you 15 GBP per 1,000 points with a transaction fee of 15 GBP. Without the transaction fee, a Virgin Point costs 1.5 cents per point GBP or 1.9 cents per point (USD).
Often, Virgin Atlantic holds promotions that entail up to 70% more Virgin Points when purchasing them. Even with the promotion, however, buying Virgin Atlantic points isn’t necessarily good value, so you should only consider buying points when you need a top-up for a planned redemption.
Meanwhile, an alternative to buying points outright is Points Booster, which allows you to double or triple the points you earned by flying. The option is available from the time of booking until before departure.
Each point boosted costs 0.01 GBP. For example, if you’re flying round-trip from London to New York, you could pay 138.32 GBP for an extra 13,832 Virgin Points.
Other Ways to Earn Virgin Flying Club Points
You can also earn Virgin Points through other means, including hotel stays, car rentals, and holiday packages. Be sure to quote your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club number during your transaction, so you’ll be credited the Virgin Points you’re entitled to.
When you book your accommodations with the following hotel chains and booking websites, you’ll earn Virgin Points at the following rates:
- Best Western: 500 points per stay
- Hyatt: 750 points per stay
- IHG: up to 500 points per stay
- Kaligo: up to 10,000 points per night
- Marriott International: up to 2 points per $1 (USD) spent
- Rocketmiles: up to 10,000 points per night
- Virgin Hotels: 2,000 points per stay
- Worldhotels: 500 points per stay
- Yotel: up to 500 points per stay
For car rentals, you can earn Virgin Points with the following companies:
- Avis: up to 1,000 points per rental
- Alamo: 1,000 points per rental (US and Canada)
- Enterprise: 300 points per day
- Hertz: up to 1,000 points per rental
- National: up to 1,200 points per rental
- Sixt: 500 points per rental
Virgin Atlantic Holidays offers Virgin Points on air and hotel packages; however, it focuses on departures from the UK.
Redeeming Virgin Points with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
You can use your Virgin Points in a number of ways; however, you’ll get the most value by redeeming them for flights.
Virgin Atlantic Flights
Virgin Atlantic uses zone-based award charts for “standard season” and “peak season”. You can think of these separate charts as Flying Club’s way of imposing dynamic pricing.
Virgin Atlantic defines the date ranges for the standard and peak seasons annually. You’ll notice that the peak season always involves holidays and the entire Northern Hemisphere summer season (mid-June to early September).
With only a relatively small number of countries it flies to, Virgin Atlantic’s redemption tables are quite simple.
Here’s the redemption table for the standard season:
Here’s the redemption table for the peak season:
Redemptions above are priced as round-trips; one-way redemptions cost half the number of points.
For connecting flights, Flying Club cumulatively adds the number of points required per leg. For example, the redemption cost of a New York to Delhi via London ticket is the sum in points of New York to London and London to Delhi. For a one-way economy ticket, that’s 20,000 points in total.
Fair warning, Virgin Atlantic tacks on carrier-imposed surcharges on award flights, and the taxes and fees you’ll be paying jumps considerably when you book a premium flight.
While a one-way Upper Class flight between New York and London can be booked for as few as 47,500 Virgin Points, you’ll be on the hook for $926 (USD) in taxes and fees.
The taxes and fees are so high that it may sometimes make better sense to pay for a flight with cash rather than redeeming. Always check the cash price before deciding on a Virgin Atlantic redemption.
There’s better value to be found with redeeming Virgin Points for partner flights, since Flying Club charges significantly lower taxes and fees on partner flights than Virgin Atlantic flights.
For almost all partner airlines, Flying Club publishes a distance-based award chart:
Notably, Delta redemptions are subject to their own standard and peak season charts. Here’s the chart for US to UK redemptions:
Here’s the chart for other Europe to US direct flights:
Here’s the chart for all other Delta flights, including US domestic flights:
Meanwhile, redemptions on KLM and Air France also follow their own charts. Short-haul flights follow a distance based award chart separated by peak and off peak pricing:
On the other hand, long-haul flights follow more complicated peak and off-peak charts with 10 zones. US/Canada East Coast is in Zone 6, while US/Canada West Coast is in Zone 7. Across the pond, Western and Central Europe are in Zone 1, while Eastern Europe is in Zone 2.
For example, a one-way Montreal (Zone 6) to Paris (Zone 1) ticket in economy may cost as low as 12,000 Virgin Points plus $236 (CAD) in taxes and fees on Air France.
Even if a redemption involves connecting flights, Air France/KLM award costs are based on the zones of the origin and destination. Hence, a one-way award between Montreal (Zone 6) and Rome (Zone 1) via Paris or Amsterdam (Zone 1) also costs 12,000 Virgin Points in economy despite the connecting flight.
Note that, for now, you may only redeem Air France, KLM, Delta, China Airlines, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, and Xiamen Air awards online. All other partner redemptions must be made over the phone.
You can also use Virgin Points for upgrades on flights operated by Virgin Atlantic. The number of points required is based on published upgrade charts, which also vary between standard and peak seasons.
Here’s the upgrade redemption chart for standard season:
Here’s the upgrade redemption chart for peak season:
Remember that for an economy ticket to qualify for any points upgrade, the original fare class must be the higher-priced Economy Classic or Economy Delight.
Other Ways to Redeem Virgin Points
Although you’ll certainly get the most value out of your points by redeeming them for award flights, there are a number of other ways for you to redeem your Virgin Points.
You can redeem points for travel packages with Virgin Atlantic Holidays. As mentioned, however, the agency focuses on departures from the UK.
If you’re looking to redeem your Virgin Points for hotels, you can transfer them to the following hotel loyalty programs at suboptimal rates:
- Hilton Honors: 2 Virgin Points = 3 Hilton points
- IHG One Rewards: 1 Virgin Point = 1 IHG point
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Sweet Spots
With Flying Club’s lower taxes and fees for partner redemptions, you’ll find more sweet spots with partner airlines than Virgin Atlantic flights.
Despite a recent hike in redemption cost, ANA First Class continues to be among Virgin Atlantic’s sweet spots.
A one-way ANA First Class ticket can be booked for as few as 72,500 points between the West Coast and Japan, or 85,000 points between the East Coast and Japan.
You’ll also find great redemptions on flights operated by Air France and KLM. Going by their off-peak redemption chart, you can fly between:
- East Coast and Western Europe in economy for 12,000 Virgin Points, or business class for 48,500 Virgin Points per way
- East Coast and Northern Africa in economy for 20,000 Virgin Points, or business class for 66,500 Virgin Points per way
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Tips & Tricks
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is, again, notorious for charging exorbitant taxes and fees on Virgin Atlantic redemptions. This is made worse by the UK Air Passenger Duty (APD), which is charged on departures from the UK.
As mentioned in the post above, a way to avoid paying the APD is keeping your layover in the UK within 24 hours.
If, for instance, you’re flying between Delhi and New York, make sure that your stop in London is less than 24 hours, and that the flights are booked as connecting flights to avoid paying the APD.
Moving on, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has two features you should know about: reward seat deals and reward seat checker.
Reward seat deals lists low-priced redemptions for inspiration. The tool lets you filter results by departure city, and it shows the destinations and exact dates you can snag a deal on redemption.
Reward seat checker, on the other hand, visualizes award availability for each day in a calendar format. You can look at the exact number of award seats available for the next 12 months on flights operated by Virgin Atlantic and some by Delta.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Tiers
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has three membership tiers: Red, Silver, and Gold. In order to progress to the next tier, you must accumulate enough Tier Points.
Tier Points are distinct from Virgin Points, and they’re accrued by flying with Virgin Atlantic or a partner airline on paid or redemption flights. Tier Points expire 12 months after they’re earned.
For Virgin Atlantic flights, you’ll earn a set number of Tier Points based on the fare class you booked:
You’ll need to earn the following Tier Points to advance to the next tier or retain your current tier:
- Silver: 400 Tier Points
- Gold: 1,000 Tier Points
As a Virgin Atlantic Flying Club elite member, you’ll receive a wide range of benefits, including:
- Additional bonus points on every flight
- Free seat selection
- Extra hold baggage
- Priority check-in
- Clubhouse/lounge access
- Complimentary companion ticket
- Cabin upgrade award
- Dedicated phone line
- Maternity/paternity membership pause
- Benefits at Virgin Hotels
In addition, as a Gold member, you’re allowed to transfer up to 100,000 Virgin Points to another member per year for free.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club loyalty program provides great redemption opportunities on Virgin Atlantic and its partner airlines. However, with the exorbitant taxes and fees tacked onto Virgin Atlantic redemptions, the program’s sweet spots are found with partner airlines.
Despite a recent increase in redemption cost, ANA First Class remains to be one of the best uses of Virgin Points, with flights from North America to Japan costing as few as 72,500 Virgin Points per way.
Redemptions on Air France and KLM are also great value and worth considering. You can, for example, fly one-way between the East Coast and Western Europe for only 12,000 Virgin Points in economy, or 48,500 Virgin Points in business class, plus a modest amount of taxes and fees.