I’ve been moving all week, and have no idea what day it is, so Noob contributor, Mark, is going to shed some light on a great deal that broke a couple of days ago. Enjoy.
13,000 Mile Virgin Atlantic One-Way Awards to Europe
One of the most visited continents on the planet is Europe. And if you read this website, there’s a good chance that it’s on your list of places to travel on miles and points.
Using some of America’s loyalty carriers (or their air alliances) to get to Europe is the option most use, since those are the airlines they have points balances in.
However, news broke last week (H/T to Just Another Points Traveler!) of what is possibly the cheapest award from North America to Europe, and that is by flying Virgin Atlantic from JFK (or Newark) to London in economy for 13,000 miles each way plus $98 in taxes and fees on the first leg and ~$273 on the return (ehh). I would rather route through another city on the return. You must book by June 17th.
How to Earn Points in Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club Program
Even if you’ve never flown Virgin Atlantic, there are some easy options available to you that can get you the amount of points you need today. Below, the options:
- The Obvious: Fly Virgin Atlantic
This is the most work, obviously, but if you’ve already been flying Virgin Atlantic, then you may already have the 26,000 miles required for the round trip flight!
- American Express Membership Rewards
This option is great for those that already have a healthy Membership Rewards balance. Transferring at 1:1 in 1,000 mile increments, the Flying Club miles will be posted in your account within 24 to 48 hours, but could be sooner. As recently as November 2012, there was a 35% bonus on all transferred miles between the two programs, so look in the future for promotions. Be on the look out for random one day offers on the American Express PRG, Platinum, or Business Gold cards.
- The Newest Option: Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
Having been added this year, the newest partner for Chase Ultimate Rewards points is Virgin Atlantic, also transferring at a 1:1 ratio from the two programs. An easy way to earn points quickly is by signing up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which gets you 40,000 miles for $3,000 in spend in 3 months. If you already have that card, the Ink Bold® Business Card or Ink Plus® Business Card, both give you 50,000 miles for $5,000 in spend in 3 months. All cards can have their points funnel into one Chase Ultimate Rewards account.
- Apply for the Virgin Atlantic American Express Credit Card
Edit: this won’t help you for this deal since it expires, June 17th. But it may be worth padding your VA balance for future deals.
The Virgin Atlantic card is issued by Bank of America, you’ll earn 20,000 miles after your first purchase after receiving the card. That’s 6,000 short of a free round trip to Europe (if this deal comes around again)! Plus another 25,000 additional Flying Club bonus miles after you spend at least $2,500 in qualifying purchases
You’ll also receive 15,000 miles each account anniversary, as well as 5,000 miles for each additional card member you add to the account. This card earns 3 miles on every Virgin Atlantic purchase, and 1.5 miles on every other purchase.
How to Find Virgin Atlantic Award Availability
Searching for availability is easy, since the website pulls up a calendar of available dates if the first option you chose is not available.
The website also clearly shows the taxes and fees you will be charged if you book the award flight. For this itinerary, I was able to find exactly what dates were available, and can clearly see the trip will cost me 26,000 miles and $376.20 in taxes and fees for the whole trip. That’s if you decided to go round trip with this deal. I prefer to route back through another city to avoid hefty fees.
The best way for people to fly from the US to London on points and miles right now is through this deal *in economy only* (Business Class and First Class tickets still have the higher fuel surcharges and taxes.) Even with the higher return taxes from London, the miles saved through this offer can be valuable. Even in off-peak time, you’ll have to spend at least 40,000 miles round trip for example: American Airlines from anywhere in the continental US using off-peak economy awards, but with less fees. However, I always try to route back to the States from London through another city to avoid the fees.
While this doesn’t appeal to folks out on the west coast, for the millions that live within easy travel distance to New York City, this deal is a no brainer.
(Disclaimer: Noobtaveler.com receives a referral credit for the cards mentioned in this post)
— Geoff Whitmore