Virgin Atlantic is the newest Ultimate Rewards transfer partner. Points transfer at a 1:1 ratio.
Since I think Ultimate Rewards is the most valuable mileage currency (with the possible exception of Starwood Star points), I welcome this change, but personally there are only a few areas where I think it’s even worth considering Virgin Atlantic transfers.
Highlights of the Virgin Atlantic Program
You can see from this spending miles table at Virgin Atlantic that they love their fuel surcharges. Here are just a few quick samples:
- Boston – UK = 38,500 miles and $700. economy class
- Sydney, AU – UK = 80,000 miles and $875 economy class
- Los Angeles – UK = 47,500 miles and $700 economy class
Clearly, the mileage rates from the US to the UK are good, but with the fuel surcharges you won’t see me rushing to book Virgin Atlantic award flights.
Virgin Atlantic has one of the worst cancellation policies for a mileage program. If you cancel your flight 7 days in advance, you’ll lose 25% of your miles. If you cancel it within 7 days, you’ll lose 100% of your miles. OUCH. There is also a 25 GBP charge for change of dates, routes, or class of service.
So is there any reason to ever consider Virgin Atlantic?
I’ve spent a good part of my morning digging around the Virgin Atlantic website trying to find any golden opportunities for award travel. First, let me say that it’s a pretty confusing website to navigate. However, I have learned that Hawaiian, Virgin America, and US Airways redemptions don’t involve a fuel surcharge. Naturally, my attention goes there.
Hawaiian Airlines redemptions options:
Within Hawaii = 15,000 miles roundtrip economy and 30,000 round trip first class. This might be a good option for island hopping in Hawaii.
Flights from the mainland to Hawaii are pretty much average. 40,000 economy and 80,000 in first.
You can get more information here.
US Airways redemption options:
June 11, 2013, the agreement with US Airways will come to an end.
The award chart looks like most typical airline award charts with 25,000 miles for domestic (including Canada) flights in economy. You can dig around more here.
Virgin America redemption options:
As a distance based program, there may be some bright spots depending on where and when you travel. The lowest round trip domestic redemptions start at 10,000 miles (Los Angeles to San Francisco). You can see all the samples here.
All in all, this is probably not a partnership I’ll take advantage of, but I want you to be aware of the increase options with the Ultimate Rewards program. There is a possibility that I could use some miles to get from Brisbane to Port Moresby, but I still need to do some work in figuring out that partnership.