What Are the 5 Best Uses of Flying Club Miles?

Jul 28, 2019

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Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club programme doesn’t get quite the recognition it deserves in frequent flyer circles. While it does not have the same route map and alliance partners that British Airways does, its miles are arguably more valuable than Avios if used in the best ways. Here are our five best uses of Flying Club miles.

1. Delta One Suites From US to Mainland Europe

Virgin Atlantic’s closest airline partner is US giant Delta, and together, they operate sizeable frequencies from the UK — especially London Heathrow Terminal 3. While you can redeem miles on either airline between the UK and North America, there is an amazing sweet spot.

Delta flies to many destinations from the US to Europe outside of the UK, including its big international hub in Amsterdam (AMS), which it operates in connection as part of another joint venture with Air France-KLM. Well, the sweet spot of the Flying Club programme is that one-way flights from the US to Europe (outside of the UK) on Delta have dramatically lower fees and taxes.

How much lower?

Of course, you would have the additional time, expense and hassle of making your own way from, say Paris (CDG) or Amsterdam (AMS) back to the UK, which can be easily done on the Eurostar. However, a $600+ saving is surely more than worth it.

It’s also worth noting some mainland European Delta routes feature its new flagship Delta One Suites featuring sliding doors and plenty of privacy.

This only works from the US on one-way nonstop flights with Delta to mainland Europe (not UK).

In the other direction, the fees and taxes once again jump up, although not to the level of Heathrow departures, as the APD Tax is not payable from Europe.

Delta credit cards can help you jump up to the next level of elite status.
Delta One A350 Business Class. Photo by Emily McNutt.

2. ANA First Class to Japan

ANA is one of the only airline partners of Flying Club that has a proper first class long-haul product. Redemptions on ANA are only available round-trip, but from London Heathrow to Tokyo in first class are priced very reasonably at only 120,000 miles return in first class. This is around half what British Airways would charge for a redemption on the same route.

Business class is 95,000 miles return, but in our view, the extra 25,000 miles for first class is well worth it.

What’s even better is that London is the first route to receive ANA’s brand new first class product, which looks amazing. You can expect spacious enclosed suites with comfortable flat beds, vintage Champagne and elaborate Japanese and Western meals.

ANA 777 New First Class. (Photo courtesy ANA)

3. Virgin Atlantic A350 New Upper Class Suite to New York

There’s a lot of excitement around both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic this summer, as both airlines are receiving their first Airbus A350s, and these aircraft will feature radically new business class products.

If you do want to fly Virgin Atlantic using your Flying Club miles, its very best seat by a long way is found on its new A350s. Initially, these aircraft will be dedicated to flights between London and New York.

From 10 September 2019, initially there will only be one flight per day in each direction with the A350:

  • VS153 London (LHR) 1:30pm Departure → New York (JFK) 4:25pm Arrival
  • VS138 New York (JFK) 7:00pm Departure → London (LHR) 7:20am Arrival

As of 25 September, there will be a slight change to the outbound flight that the A350 will operate:

  • VS137 London (LHR) 1:30pm Departure → New York (JFK) 2:50pm Arrival
  • VS138 New York (JFK) 7:00pm Departure → London (LHR) 7:20am Arrival

Redemptions cost 95,000 miles return or 47.500 miles one-way in the new Upper Class suite. Note that each ticket incurs fees that need to be paid in cash on top of the miles.

Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class. (Photo By Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy)

4. Air China Business Class to Beijing

Redemptions on Air China used to be the very best use of Flying Club miles, but they were at such a ludicrously low rate that they have since been raised to more realistic levels. A plus is that unlike ANA, you can redeem one-way awards between London and China. In business class, those awards will cost you 67,500 miles each way. This is a decent price for a decent product.

First class is also available for 100,000 miles one-way, but unlike ANA, Air China’s first-class product doesn’t have a great reputation, so you may be better saving the miles and just booking the ‘sweet spot’ of business class.

Air China flies up top three times daily from London to Beijing (PEK) using a mixture of Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 and A350 aircraft. Like Virgin Atlantic itself, aim for the Airbus A350 aircraft for its latest and best product, which is reverse herringbone with direct aisle access.

Air China Airbus A350 with reverse herringbone seats. (Photo by Airbus)

5. Delta One Domestic Transcon

Flights between the East and West Coasts of the USA have some great products on several carriers, but are often very expensive. You can redeem just 22,500 Flying Club miles plus only $5.60 to fly Delta One from New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX) or vice versa. Delta has a great reputation domestically — it’s arguably the best domestic of the ‘Big 3’ US airlines, which also includes American Airlines and United Airlines.

Delta operates 10 flights per day between these cities on a combination of Boeing 757, 767 and Airbus A330 aircraft — all with lie-flat seats in either a 1-2-1 configuration or a 2-2 configuration (on the Boeing 757).

Featured image by ANA.

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