Virgin’s own flights have high fees and surcharges, but you obtain great value by booking with Virgin’s partners such as ANA, Air New Zealand, Delta, and South African.
Awards on Virgin: Reward Seats on Virgin, Cabin Upgrades, and Companion (Virgin charges very high fees and fuel surcharges, therefore it best to use points on partners). Additionally, award prices are priced per segment (e.g. U.S. to Dubai requires points for U.S. to London, plus points for London to Dubai)
Awards with Partners: Spend Points Partner Charts (Recommendations are below)
Fees: Change or Cancel more than 24 hours before departure ($50 USD for non-UK departures); no changes or cancellations within 24 hours
All of the awards below are for round-trip travel.
ANA: Central or Eastern US to Japan for 95,000 in business or 120,000 in first class. Western U.S. for 90,000 in business and 110,000 in first class. (You can only fly roundtrip to Japan)
Air New Zealand: South Pacific to Los Angeles for 90,000 in business class or New Zeland to North/South America for 125,000 in business class. However, it is very hard to find business class award space to New Zealand. You can also use 80,000 points to fly in roundtrip business class from New Zealand to Asia, which is a good deal if you want to do Auckland to Tokyo (11-hour flight).
- “South Pacific” is not defined for purposes of Los Angeles award. It likely means New Zealand, Australia, and the small islands near New Zealand such as Fiji.
South African Airways: Senegal (Dakar) to USA (IAD) for 50,000 in business class (ITA matrix indicates that this might be around $580 in taxes and fees)
Jet Airways– This award chart is distance-based, with a one-way only costing 50%. Jet Airways flies a fifth-freedom flight between Toronto and Amsterdam, which you could fly one-way for 20,500 in economy, 41,000 in business, and 60,000 in their first class suites. There are no fuel surcharges for Jet Airways, but they do charge points for each segment, so book direct flights. (Jet Airways is in financial trouble, so don’t book far in advance)
Delta– The award chart for Delta only shows to or from the U.K., but you can use Virgin’s flight search calculator to find award space and prices flying on Delta. Virgin prices flights by segment so only book direct flights. I also find that it is easier to find award space by searching one-way flights rather than roundtrip flights.
Below is a flight in Delta Business class for 60,000 plus about $38. That same Delta flight would cost 300,000 Delta points.
Or the U.S. to Europe for only 50,000 points in Delta business class. That same flight would cost 86,000 Delta points.
Singapore Airlines: The prices on Singapore Airlines are quite good, but Virgin Atlantic prevents you from booking long-haul business or first class. (“Redemptions in Business Class and First Class on their A380-800, 777-300ER, and A350-900 aircraft types are not available.”)