Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: options for Australian frequent flyers

By Chris Chamberlin, February 10 2014

With Virgin Atlantic axing its Sydney-Hong Kong route as of May and pulling out of Australia altogether, many local members of the airline's Flying Club rewards scheme have been left sitting on a pile of frequent flyer points but with seemingly no way to use them.

Fortunately you can funnel your points through Virgin Atlantic's partner airlines, hotels and credit card affiliations.

We've scoped out some clever strategies to help you make the most of your Flying Club miles.

NOTE | A previous version of this article listed several mileage rates as one-way, when the mileage cost indicated was accurate for both one-way and return bookings in most cases.

Additionally, errors were discovered with the Singapore Airlines business class redemption rates found on the Virgin Atlantic website, which were taken down by the airline but have since reappeared. We have amended certain SQ rates based on the ‘correct’ rates provided to us from the airline’s London office, which seemingly differ from those found on their website.

Partner airlines

Although Virgin Atlantic will no longer fly in Australian skies after May 5 you'll still be able to use your Flying Club miles with Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines.

That unlocks travel to Asia, Europe and even the United States, in some cases for fewer points than would be required for a similar flight with Virgin Atlantic.

The simplest way to use Flying Club miles for booking a seat on a partner airline is to call Virgin Atlantic.

Within Australia, dial 1300 727 340 and press 3 to speak to the Flying Club team, who can assist with your points redemption.

Past May, however, you'll need to contact one of Virgin Atlantic's overseas offices.

Hong Kong is probably best because it's closer to our timezone: dial + 852 2532 6060. You can also go straight to Virgin Atlantic's UK head office on + 44 844 412 2414.

(To keep your phone bill down you might want to consider using Skype rather than your landline or mobile number, unless you've got plenty of spare calling credit on your mobile account.)

Flying from Australia to Asia

These are the cheapest international flights you can book from Australia using your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles.

You'll need at least 50,000 Flying Club miles to book a return trip from Australia to Kuala Lumpur with Virgin Atlantic partner Malaysia Airlines, or 55,000 to head to Singapore and back with Singapore Airlines.

Singapore Airlines is one option for your Flying Club miles
Singapore Airlines is one option for your Flying Club miles

Return business class fares will cost you 80,000 and 85,000 points, respectively, while 130,000 Flying Club points lands you in Singapore Airlines' luxe first class cabin.

[Click on the tables in this article to enlarge them]

However, we must share one rather odd caveat of the program – it’s possible to make one-way Flying Club redemptions with certain partner airlines (including Malaysia and Singapore Airlines), though in these cases you’ll be slugged the full return price.

Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia flights are the exception to the rule here: one-way Flying Club redemptions are priced at half the return rate – though some partners (including Delta and Virgin America) don’t permit one-way redemptions at all, even if you’re willing to pay the return price.

Flying from Australia to Europe

Here's where former Virgin Atlantic customers who are sitting on a mountain of frequent flyer miles can really clean up.

A return ticket from Australia to Europe would have cost you 200,000 Flying Club miles in Virgin Atlantic's 'Upper Class' business class, however it's only 150,000 points for Singapore Airlines’ business class, and just 220,000 for first class.

But there's a catch: Flying Club miles can't be redeemed for first or business class seats on Singapore Airlines' Airbus A380 or Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. And as it happens, those are the only planes that SQ flies between Singapore and London.

So what are your options? We’d suggest skipping London and heading to Amsterdam, Copenhagen or Istanbul – destinations served by Singapore Airlines' Boeing 777-200 fleet.

These cities are well-connected to London by air, so you could always book your final segment on a separate itinerary.

Malaysia Airlines will get you to Europe for fewer points than Virgin Atlantic
Malaysia Airlines will get you to Europe for fewer points than Virgin Atlantic

You can also fly business class to Europe with Air New Zealand and Malaysia Airlines coming in under Virgin Atlantic's rate, at 180,000 points and 195,000 points return, respectively.

The economy rates aren't quite so keen. Things kick off at 100,000 points for a return economy ticket with Singapore Airlines; 115,000 for Malaysia Airlines; and 120,000 on Air New Zealand.

(The catch with Air New Zealand is that you'll be going from Auckland through the USA which makes for a long flight, especially in economy!)

Flying from Australia to North America

Fancy trading in your Flying Club points on a trip to the USA? Look to Air New Zealand, Delta and Virgin Australia.

Virgin Australia's daily Sydney-Los Angeles-Sydney flights will cost you 94,000 Flying Club points for a return economy ticket; 141,000 for premium economy; and 188,000 in business class – with one-way awards available at half these rates.

The same return journey on Delta will set you back 100,000 points in economy and 150,000 in business, though one-way Flying Club awards aren’t permitted on Delta flights.

Lie back and let Air New Zealand take you stateside with your Flying Club miles
Lie back and let Air New Zealand take you stateside with your Flying Club miles

If you don't mind going to Los Angeles via Auckland, Air New Zealand offers better value at 80,000 points for return economy and 125,000 for business class – which is actually less than premium economy with Virgin Australia.

Hawaiian Airlines is also an option, though Flying Club doesn’t have a set ‘Australia to USA’ rate – instead, you’ll have to book an Australia to Honolulu flight and connect that with an onward flight to the Continental United States.

The same forward planning would be required in the reverse direction, so if Hawaii is on your destination map, make sure you leave plenty of time between connecting flights.

Regional flights within Asia

Another option is to use your Flying Club miles to book a shorter trip within Asia.

For example: if you're already going to Singapore, 35,000 Flying Club miles will get you to Hong Kong and back in economy class with Singapore Airlines. That's great for fitting in some extra business or pleasure.

A business class return ticket on SQ's Singapore-Hong Kong route is even better value at only 60,000 Flying Club miles, as long as you avoid flights on the Airbus A380 or the Boeing 777-300ER.

At the time of writing, the flights you'll want are SQ860, SQ868, SQ872 and SQ890 to Hong Kong; and SQ857, SQ863, SQ871 and SQ891 back to Singapore – these flights are usually operated by a Boeing 777-200 so are therefore available for Flying Club redemptions.

Exiting the Flying Club

Even if you don't have enough Flying Club miles to take a flight they don't have to go to waste.

Members of the Hilton HHonors loyalty program can convert 10,000 Flying Club miles to 15,000 HHonors points, with a 'pro rata' 2:3 exchange rate for every 5,000 additional Flying Club miles.

(It's free to join Hilton HHonors, if you haven't already signed up.)

This is probably the best option if you're a platinum member of Virgin Australia's Velocity Frequent Flyer scheme and have taken up the option of free Hilton Hhonors Diamond status.

You might also be in the habit of funnelling American Express Membership Rewards points to your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club account (it's an option on American Express Centurion, Platinum, Gold, David Jones, Charge and Business Accelerator.)

Now's the time to choose a different airline for your Amex favours, and there are plenty to choose from.

Virgin Australia’s Velocity, Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles, Etihad Guest, Malaysia Airlines’ Enrich, Singapore Airlines’ Krisflyer and Thai Airways’ Royal Orchid Plus all support converting Membership Rewards points to their own frequent flyer currency on a straight 1:1 basis, with slightly different rates applying to Emirates’ Skywards and Air New Zealand’s Airpoints – so take your pick!

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Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Nov 2011

Total posts 110

Good luck finding any award seats on Air NZ, their availablity is almost non-existent.

To make a flying club booking, it might be a good idea to call their US number as its toll free, meaning it is a free call when made via skype. ( USA +1 800 365 9500)

Virgin Atlantic Airways - Flying Club

11 Apr 2011

Total posts 30

Thanks Chris and David. Very informative. I'm also looking at upgrades on their partner airlines.

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 271

Hi

Has anyone any information to share with using FC miles for upgrades on Partner Airlines?

Thanks

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jun 2013

Total posts 367

thanks David very informative.

Glad you liked it Merc25. ;)

-Chris

Why people still want to keep miles with such virgin group as the mileages redemption points required are very expensive.

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 544

Skipping the A380 or 777-300ER on SQ is the worst disadvantage of Virgin's plan.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

16 Aug 2013

Total posts 8

130,000 for Singapore Airlines First Class to Asia?!?! I flew Suites from SYD-SIN-HKG for 75,000 miles

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Nov 2011

Total posts 246

You forgot to mention about spending the miles in Virgin Australia for those who live here for domestic flight options.

I'm bit suspicious on the miles to redeem on Y for AU to South East Asia. It can't be 50K points one way. I mean Virgin Australia doesn't even cost that many miles for flights there with their SQ partner.

SYD to KUL normally is almost 60K miles return on MH even when VA used to partner with MH.

Hi sagidec,

Though Flying Club miles can be used to redeem for Virgin Australia domestic flights, we chose to focus on where miles could be used internationally... at 12,500 FC miles for a Brisbane-Sydney flight in economy, you'd be better off funnelling to Velocity instead if domestic short-haul was your goal, as redemptions start at 6,900 Velocity points plus tax for the same route.

Our mileage calculations were derived from the information presented on the Virgin Atlantic website.

Though some Flying Club redemption tables specify either one-way or return pricing, the tables for many airline partners are listed purely as 'origin and destination'.

Given the confusion here, we're currently working with Virgin Atlantic to clarify exactly how each rate with each partner is priced (either one-way or return), and will update the article accordingly when this information has been provided and confirmed.

Virgin Atlantic Airways - Flying Club

11 Apr 2011

Total posts 30

Hi Chris, Just a clarification about your mentioning funnelling to Velocity.. Am I reading that correctly as indication there is the option to funnel FC miles to Velocity points? I couldn't see that option anywhere on the Virgin Atlantic or Velocity websites? If so, what's the ratio of FC miles to Velocity points?

Or have I mis-understood your meaning?

Hi willygee,

By 'funnel to Velocity', I was referring to a change in airline preference with Hilton HHonors and Amex MR – say, instead of earning Flying Club miles with Hilton, choose to earn Velocity points instead. The same applies to Amex MR.

But yes, at present you can't convert you're Flying Club miles into Velocity points – only change how you accrue airline mileage in the future.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

29 Jan 2011

Total posts 156

I think your article is in error:

:A one-way ticket from Australia to Europe would have cost you 200,000 Flying Club miles in Virgin Atlantic's 'Upper Class' business class, however it's only 120,000 points for Singapore Airlines business class, and just 220,000 for first class."

I redeemed a one-way ticket from LHR-SYD for 100,000 miles, I think 200,000 miles would have got you a return flight.

Also, I think you forgot to mention DELTA.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

16 Aug 2013

Total posts 8

I think what has happened is all the prices are said to be one-way, but in actuality they are return. Australia to Asia in Economy is 25,000 one way, therefore 50,000 return. So, as you have stated that it costs 50,000 one way, it should actually say RETURN. Same goes for pretty much all the other prices.

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 1

I was flying Upper Class SYD-LHR on 27 June 2014.  My SYD-HKG sector has been transferred for no charge to Business Class with Cathay Pacific (Cathay don’t have First Class so I guess Cathay Upper Class is equivalent to Virgin Business Class).  Thankfully I hadn’t transferred my MR to Flying Club.  I have joined Malaysia Airlines Enrich and I am flying Business Class A380 (saves UK departure tax) Paris-Brisbane (333 KL-Brisbane) for 54,000 points.   

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Nov 2011

Total posts 246

I have started to work on earning MH Enrich miles as I go to Malaysia often for family visits. Their Enrich website is appalling but the deals they provide are great in redemption.

Once or twice a year they have 30% redemption offer and once a year 50% redemption offer. This really makes the miles more valuable. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

25 Apr 2015

Total posts 1

The site seems inactive? dates old. My ? is any details on around the world trips with Veocity points?

W`e have had a few trips but they have been with Quantas points.

Also lost a trip back when Anset went bust so all our points are on Amex ready to transfere?

 

Paul, this is a news article that was published in February last year.

I'd suggest posting your question in our Q&A area as it doesn't relate to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, and so that other readers will be able to see it.


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