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How to Book Virgin America Flights With Virgin Atlantic Miles

Virgin Atlantic miles aren’t the most celebrated airline currency, mainly because of the fuel surcharges imposed on most award flights. That being said, they can still come in handy, especially for partner flights. Normally, booking Virgin America flights with Virgin America Elevate points is the best way to go, since one-way awards are available for as few as 2,149 points each way. However, there are cases in which redeeming Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles works out better. I recently booked a Virgin America flight with Virgin Atlantic miles and it wasn’t quite as straightforward as I expected. Thus, I thought I’d share my experience with the booking process and things you should be aware of:

Redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for travel on Virgin America
Using Virgin Atlantic miles for travel on Virgin America can be a great option

Why You Would Want to Book Virgin America Flights Using Virgin Atlantic Miles

Perhaps you’re short on Virgin America Elevate points, you want to conserve your Starwood points for hotel bookings, have lots of Ultimate Rewards points to spare, or American Express has a good promotion for Membership Rewards transfers to Elevate. These are all reasons why it might make sense to book a Virgin America flight using Virgin Atlantic miles. After all, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, which means points can be easily be earned  via generous credit card sign-up bonuses and spending category bonuses. The best part? Point transfers are instant, so you don’t have to transfer Ultimate Rewards points speculatively or worry about getting them in time for an award redemption.

How to Redeem Virgin Atlantic Miles for Virgin America Flights with Virgin Atlantic Elevate

Redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles for Virgin America flights is slightly different than your typical award booking experience. Here’s how it works:

  1. Call Virgin Atlantic Flying Club at 1-800-365-9500
  2. When prompted, select Option 3, then Option 1. 
  3. Notify the agent that you want to redeem miles for a Virgin America flight. It always helps if you have the flight number on hand.
  4. Please note that you cannot book a flight less than 72 hours before departure.

The major caveat? After the agent finds the flight you want, they will put it on hold and ask you to call back 24 hours later to confirm whether the flight is in fact available for booking. If it is, you proceed with the booking process, provide payment for taxes, and your miles are deducted from your account. In my case, I called around 26 hours later, but thankfully the ticket was still on hold and I was told we received the go-ahead to book.

The good thing about having to wait 24 hours for a confirmed booking is that it gives you enough time to transfer points from programs like Membership Rewards, which aren’t instant. The down side, obviously, is that you won’t be able to book a last minute ticket this way. And if the flight you want isn’t available when you call back 24 hours later, revenue fares might increase.

Things to Be Aware Of When Booking Virgin America Flights With Virgin Atlantic Miles

There are a few other things you should be aware of when it comes to booking Virgin America flights with Virgin Atlantic miles. First, while the Virgin Atlantic website has an award chart displaying roundtrip redemption rates for Virgin America flights, this is not an accurate depiction of all the routes available. For example, San Francisco to Chicago flights aren’t even listed on the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club partner award chart. However, it is a route operated by Virgin America and I was able to redeem miles for it. In case you’re wondering, award redemption rates for San Francisco to Chicago flights are as follows:

  • Main Cabin: 20,000 Flying Club miles roundtrip
  • Main Cabin Select: 30,000 Flying Club miles roundtrip
  • Virgin America First Class: 40,000 Flying Club miles roundtrip

Another inaccuracy on the Virgin Atlantic website? The fine print under the award chart, which states “No one way rewards permitted”. This is false, as I was able to book a one-way award for half the number of miles required for a roundtrip.

I hope this is useful for those who are considering redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles for award flights on Virgin America. Being aware of the process will hopefully save you a lot of hassle when it comes time to redeem miles.

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  1. Ariana,

    I’m looking at flights from SFO-MCO for summer using Virgin Atlantic miles to fly Virgin America. Any clues or insight as to what flights will / will not be available when booking with Virgin Atlantic points?


    • Mountain Man

      You have to call Virgin Atlantic to check availability on Virgin America. You can not check for this online.

    • You can book Main Cabin, Main Cabin Select, and First Class flights using Virgin Atlantic miles. I don’t know what their criteria for availability is though. In my case, the flight was available in coach on the VA flight but VX only had Main Cabin Select and First Class seats available.

  2. Mountain Man

    My experience was a little different. You call them to check for availability and if available, they will take your credit card info and usually issue the ticket within 24 hours and email you the itinerary. No call backs to them. I have done this many times. You can not book with VA miles on VX within 72 hours of flight departures so really no last minute uses for this type of redemption. VX has the best first class experience for non transcon flights and hope i can still redeem this way if VX and Alaska will merge.

    • They must have changed the process because my ticket didn’t automatically get issued after 24 hours. I called about 26 hours later and they only issued it after I confirmed that I still wanted to book the flight. Virgin America is a terrific airline though. Everything from the seats to the food, service, and general onboard experience was superb.

  3. Has this changed due to Alaska merger? I would imagine it’s either impossible now, or a different process. Trying to figure out what the heck I’m going to do with my Virgin Atlantic miles.

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