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Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is a decent “back-up” frequent flyer programme for members based in the United Kingdom, given the number of opportunities to earn Virgin miles on the ground. It’s all well and good to be exclusively loyal to British Airways and Avios, but you would be limiting yourself to the award availability that Oneworld chooses to offer. As a result, collecting a second mileage currency can be the difference between a fruitless search for award space and successfully booked award travel plans.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club does have a substantial downside, however. Rewards on Virgin Atlantic come with serious surcharges to be paid, and that is on top of the substantial APD tax to be paid on flights departing the United Kingdom. And there are relatively few partner options that help you avoid those taxes and surcharges.
But recently I stumbled across an excellent sweetspot within Flying Club’s reward options. It involves flying Business Class on Delta Airlines.
Which Routes Cost 50,000 Virgin miles (+ $5.60) in Business Class?
This reward price applies for one-way Delta Airlines flights that operate non-stop from the United States to Continental Europe.
Perhaps it is easier to specify first what won’t work…
- Flights to/from the United Kingdom (return or one way)
- Itineraries departing Continental Europe (return or one way)
- Itineraries that involve a connecting flight
But if you have the flexibility to manage a one-way reward ticket to Continental Europe (and position your way home on a separate ticket), you can find a serious reward bargain. If you travel frequently to the United States, you can book a return ticket as well for 100,000 miles + $100+ in taxes, but again your itinerary must START in the US.
Help Me Out With Some Ideas…
The award calendar shown above is for Los Angeles to Amsterdam. I find that Wikipedia is a great resource for determining which airlines operate to which airports. So, if arriving into Amsterdam is most convenient for you, these American cities appear to be options:
- Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Portland (Oregon), Salt Lake City, Seattle, Tampa
If Paris Charles de Gaulle airport is more convenient, you could fly from these American cities direct:
- Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Raleigh/Durham, Salt Lake City, Seattle
All it takes is some imagination and effort. Choosing New York’s JFK airport as your starting point, you might be able to find reward availability on a Delta flight to:
- Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Dublin, Frankfurt, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Reykjavik, Zurich
- (seasonal) Athens, Berlin, Copenhagen, Malaga, Nice, Prague, Shannon, Venice
If you are based outside of London, then you are probably already accustomed to connecting flights. With some caution on leaving margin for flight delays – re-read this old post regarding “positioning flights” – you can substantially increase your chances of nabbing a Business Class reward AND pay nearly nothing in taxes.
It makes sense that Virgin Atlantic Flying Club applies consistent reward flight pricing between its flights and Delta’s. That alignment occurred a couple of years ago, as I wrote about back then. But a sweetspot has still been left open, provided you’re willing to arrive to a European airport such as Amsterdam or Paris. Just compare that to the outrageous surcharges you’d pay for a one-way in Business Class on British Airways from the US to London…