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Earlier today I published a piece about SPG’s incredible new transfer partner Virgin America. I’ve been combing through to find the very best deals ever since, and have unearthed some absolutely stunning redemption options.
These deals are a little bit complex because they involve transferring from SPG to Virgin America’s ‘Elevate’ programme in order to then book seats on their partner airlines. I’m not going to waste time repeating the details, so please read the post linked to above.
Before continuing, I should also briefly mention that if you’re short on SPG Starpoints, until tomorrow (15th April), you can pick up Starpoints at a 25% discount if you buy 20,000 or more, which works out at 1.85 pence (2.62 cents) each. There is a limit of 30,000 per year, but that is easy to get around because SPG allows members with the same address to transfer points between their accounts for free.
I’ll cover some of the other deals I’ve discovered over the next few days, but want to focus on what I think is one of the very best first.
Hong Kong is one of my favourite cities and Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is a lot of fun – put the two together and you’ve got an incredible trip!
By transferring Starpoints to Virgin America, it is now possible to book One-way flights between London and Hong Kong for 35,000 Elevate Miles (30,000 Starpoints, because you get 5,000 bonus Miles for every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer), or a Return for just 60,000 Elevate Miles (50,000 Starpoints)!
The taxes/surcharges on a One-way from London are predictably high at about £445.00 (USD$630.00) , but a One-way back from Hong Kong only attracts taxes/surcharges of £100.00 (USD$140), so you’re looking at 60,000 Elevate Miles (50,000 Starpoints) and £545.00 in total for a return in Upper Class. Note that booking as two One-ways works out cheaper than actually booking a Return.
Virgin Atlantic charge 60,000 Flying Club Miles each way between London and Hong Kong + £332.15 in taxes/surcharges for the flight from London, and £15.50 (170 Hong Kong Dollars) for the flight back, so 120,000 FC Miles and £347.65 in total. Again, booking as two One-ways is the best option.
I hate ‘surcharges’, but if you’re paying them anyway, an extra £200.00 to save 60,000 Miles (or 50,000 Starpoints) is well worth it!
Booking British Airways Club World Business Class using Avios, would require 75,000 off peak/90,000 peak and £342.15 from London, and the same amount of Miles but just £10.90 back from Hong Kong, so 150,000-180,000 Avios and £353.05 for a Return (booked as two One-ways).
Using Elevate Miles and spending £200 more to book Virgin Upper Class (a considerably better product than BA Club World in my view) and saving 90,000-120,000 Miles/Avios is obviously a good deal.
What about just buying a ticket?
If you were paying cash on Virgin Atlantic or BA for Upper Class/Club World, you would currently expect to pay about £2,700 Return from London (it tends to more if starting in Hong Kong).
If you bought 50,000 Starpoints (60,000 Elevate Miles) in the current sale (two lots of 25,000 in different accounts then use the free household transfer option I mentioned to get all 50,000 in one account), that would cost about £1,237 ($1,750 USD) + £545.00 for the flight taxes/surcharges = £1,782.
I’ve never bought Points/Miles and wouldn’t really recommend it (apart from if you just need a few to top-off an award), but if you would genuinely have paid £2,700 for a cash ticket, that’s not a bad way to save £900.00+.
What would you do?
I really hate paying inflated ‘fuel surcharges’ and similar fees on award tickets – to the extent that I just don’t do it except as a very last resort.
I would dodge the big £445.00 outbound fees by getting to Hong Kong using other Miles (probably using my pile of American Miles, but you could always book Cathay in Economy for 30,000 Avios and ~£115 from London, or 30,000 and ~£25.00 from the continent) and just book the flight back in Virgin Upper Class using 35,000 Elevate Miles and £100.00.
At the end of the original post this morning, I explained you can currently get 2,500 free Elevate Miles simply by signing up here and referring 4 friends/family members (500 for signing up, and 500 for each referral).
I would therefore only actually need an extra 32,500 Elevate Miles, which would mean transferring just 27,500 Starpoints over to Elevate (because of the 5,000 bonus).
27,500 Starpoints and £100.00 for 12 hours in Business Class is the sort of deal I like!
Go on then – bag yourself another 250 free Elevate Miles just for entering the new Virgin America competition.