What’s the Deal?
Usually, it’s best to follow the “earn and burn” strategy with points and miles; however, it’s also nice to have a stash of points for when an incredible deal comes along. A couple weeks ago, American Express announced a 30% bonus when converting Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles (until November 30, 2017). Ordinarily Virgin Atlantic doesn’t provide the best redemption value with a round trip flight from New York to London requiring 95,000 Flying Club miles and $1248! As with any award program, the value is usually found with partner redemptions (and often times with non-alliance partners). Below is Virgin Atlantic’s mileage chart for flights on ANA (all round trip).
Even without the 30% conversion bonus from American Express, using Virgin Flying Club miles to book a premium cabin award on ANA from the United States to Japan represents a great value. For example, United would charge 110,000 MileagePlus Miles for a one-way first class ticket on the same flight. With the 30% conversion bonus from American Express, a first class round trip award from the Central or Eastern United States is only 93,000 Membership Rewards Points. These flights typically retail for $23,000 so this represents a value of approximately 23.3 cents per point.
How to Book
Booking this amazing reward is easy and we have outlined the steps below:
Step 1: Link Your Accounts
You’ll need to setup a Virgin Atlantic Flying Club account and link it to your American Express Membership Rewards Account. You can link your account online or by calling American Express customer service. DO NOT CONVERT YOUR POINTS YET.
Step 2: Find Availability
We prefer United’s website to find Star Alliance availability because it lets you easily search availability across multiple dates. Set the departure to a city served by ANA (Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Washington DC) and set the arrival to TYO to search both airports in Tokyo. You should also check the boxes for flexible dates, nonstop, and award travel and select Business or First in the drop down.
Flights operated by All Nippon Airways that have availability at the “First Saver” level are bookable using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles. Below is an example of a flight from Chicago to Tokyo Haneda showing you what to look for.
Once you find both your outbound and return flights, write down the dates, times and flight numbers. You will need to provide this information to the booking agent later.
Step 3: Call Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Make sure you have your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club membership number on hand and call the Virgin Atlantic US call center at 800-365-9500. Once you have an agent on the line, let them you want to book a partner award with All Nippon Airways and give the agent the dates, the departing and arriving airports, and the flight numbers (if requested). The agent should be able to confirm availability relatively quickly and provide you with the total miles cost as well as the total taxes and fees. Virgin Atlantic offers a 48-hour hold while you transfer in the points and the agent will give you a 6-digit PNR to reference the hold. Once you have this PNR, you can convert your Membership Rewards points to Flying Club miles. The points should transfer instantly and the agent will wait on the phone. If the points don’t transfer right away, you can call back and reference the PNR to book.
We hope you’re able to take advantage of this excellent deal! Look out for the trip report in 2018 and if you have any tips for Japan, please let us know in the comments.