upper-class-virgin atlantic
Image Courtesy Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic has a fantastic business class product on its newer A350’s. It’s been on my list to try ever since it came out (of course, COVID got in the way of a few attempted reviews).

Beyond the stellar on board product, you of course also gain access to the famous Virgin Clubhouse – either at JFK or the even better one at London’s Heathrow.

But what is the best way to actually book the flight using points? The answer may surprise you.

Image Courtesy Virgin Atlantic

There are three primary ways that one might choose to book. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Delta SkyMiles, or Air France Flying Blue (a more recent partnership).

Let’s look at each for a one way from JFK to the UK (note that taxes will be significantly higher on a flight from the UK to the US).

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Most readers should know by now that using the frequent flyer program of the airline you actually want to fly is almost never the best way to do so. For instance, why would you pay 50,000 AA AAdvantage miles to fly American’s First Class from New York to LA when you could spend just 25,000 Etihad Guest miles. Am I right?

Virgin will charge you from 47,5000 miles AND UP for this award (maxing at 77,500 peak from the West Coast. And then they’ll throw on a whopping $825 in taxes and fees. Whoa!

I’m not loving this as an option given that you can often score a round trip in business class for just a bit north of $2,000. We’re getting around a penny a point in value – maybe even less. I’ll note that there are frequent transfer bonuses of 30% from transferable currencies to Virgin, but even with that discount on the mile portion, the cash co-pay is just too much….

Delta SkyMiles

Delta’s just gone off the rails when it comes to pricing Virgin flights – especially closer to the date of travel. While bookable for just $5.60 in fees, Delta is going to charge you an insane 195,000 SkyMiles (ONE WAY) for the pleasure. This rate varies, but I believe as of the latest price increase, you can’t do better than 120,000 one way (maybe 105,000?). I’d love to reference the award chart for you, but there is none, so I have to go on memory.

Surely we can do better that that, right?

The Winner: Air France Flying Blue

Indeed we can! Last year, we gained the ability to book Virgin Atlantic flights via Air France Flying Blue (and vice versa).

It turns out that Flying Blue charges both a reasonable amount of points and a reasonable amount of taxes and fees.

Given the choice to pay $800 in taxes and fees with Virgin directly or over 100,000 Delta SkyMiles, I think that I’d prefer the balance offered by Flying Blue. 60,500 miles and $200 in fees is entirely reasonable when compared with the alternatives.

Not only that, we see frequent transfer bonuses to Flying Blue from the major transferable currencies.

So, there you have it. Air France Flying Blue is the sweet spot for booking Virgin Atlantic Upper Class across the pond.

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