From the emails that I receive from readers and a general perception of online content, British Airways and their Avios program is the most widely covered and discussed frequent flyer scheme in the UK.

As a follow up from my guide to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club (FC) miles in this other piece today, I felt it would be a good idea to have a look at various lucrative sweet spots within the FC program and explore why you would be much better off using Virgin miles rather than Avios in those instances.

This is especially relevant following the widespread changes that Virgin made to their scheme at the end of last year/beginning of this year, which have seen some opportunities close and new ones open up.

First Class for just 75,000 miles return!

In terms of value, this is hands down the single best miles redemption departing the UK at the moment!

Using Virgin miles you can book a return trip from London to Beijing in First Class on Air China for just 75,000 miles plus roughly £500 of tax.

Granted, it is an award via a Virgin partner airline which means it may be more than a little tricky to book, but if you can lock this in, it is a phenomenal price for First Class.


Air China First Class – via

For a bit of perspective, British Airways charges between 170,000 and 200,000 miles plus the same taxes for this very trip!

Now, reports about Air China First Class are mixed, however at just 75,000 miles, especially direct from London, this is an incredible deal.

Remember, as this is a partner award you need to call Virgin Atlantic to book it and cannot do this online. 

Off-peak Premium Economy redemptions

Many destinations became substantially more expensive in terms of miles required for Upper Class (Virgin’s name for their business class cabin) following the changes earlier this year.

Whereas previously London to New York was a fantastic deal at just 80,000 FC miles return, it now costs between 95,000 and 115,000 miles for that same trip.

Los Angeles is another good example. Under the old reward chart, a round-trip Upper Class ticket required 100,000 FC miles, it now costs between 135,000 and 155,000 miles.

These were costly hikes, although to be fair, all it did was bring them more in line with the amount of miles that BA charges to the same destinations!

However, it wasn’t all bad news. The new peak/off-peak pricing chart has created some fantastic deals in Premium Economy particularly. Here are a few examples:

All prices quoted are for a return trip

  • London to Hong Kong – This dropped from 80,000 miles year-round to just 45,000 miles off-peak.
    Net result:  BA price = 78,000 Avios
    Virgin price = 45,000 FC miles

  • London to New York – This dropped from 55,000 miles year-round to just 35,000 miles off-peak.
    Net result:  BA price = 52,000 Avios
                         Virgin price = 35,000 FC miles
  • London to Delhi – This dropped from 70,000 miles year-round to just 35,000 miles off-peak.
    Net result:  BA price (New Delhi) = 65,000 Avios
                          Virgin price = 35,000 FC miles

First Class to Japan for just 120,000 miles return

Again another incredible deal. As I detailed in a separate post today, All Nippon Airlines (ANA) are a Virgin Atlantic partner. They look like they have a fantastic First Class product complete with Krug and caviar! The best part is that you can book ANA First Class with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles, at incredibly ‘cheap’ rates.

Let’s begin by taking a look at what BA charges you for a First Class return to Tokyo.

ana tokyo comparison.png

That’s right, it will cost you 204,000 Avios off-peak to fly to Tokyo in First Class with BA.

Or, you can choose to redeem your FC miles for a trip in ANA First Class at a cost of just 120,000 miles!

You can also redeem FC miles for ANA Business class which is still a steal. A business class return to Tokyo will cost just 95,000 FC miles!  Compare that with the equivalent journey on BA which would set you back between 150,000 and 180,000 Avios.

On balance, although the business class deal is also an excellent deal, I would try and spring for First Class given the relatively small price differential.

Note: As with the Air China First Class deal mentioned above, this can only be booked over the phone with Virgin. You also cannot book this trip as a one-way, a return journey is required. 

Economy flights to New York and elsewhere

Another beneficiary of the new off-peak/peak reward charts is those who wish to redeem miles for long haul economy flights.

Let’s look at a couple of examples:

All prices are for a return trip

  • London to New York – This dropped from 35,000 miles to just 20,000 miles off-peak. Net result: BA price = 26,000 Avios
                        Virgin price = 20,000 FC miles
  • London to Orlando – This dropped from 42,500 miles to just 25,000 miles off peak. Net result: BA price = 32,500 Avios
                          Virgin price = 25,000 FC miles
  • London to Barbados – This dropped from 45,000 miles to just 20,00 miles off-peak. Net result: BA price = 32,500 Avios
                        Virgin price = 20,000 FC miles


The above examples are the reason I like to keep my Flying Club balance at a decent level at all times in case I want to take advantage of some of these marvellous deals.

Without a doubt, in a straight comparison between Virgin Flying Club miles and BA Avios, there will only be one winner. BA have a far superior route network and comprehensive European coverage.

It is also far easier to redeem Avios for flights on BA partners than it is to do the same with Virgin.

However, it is well worth bearing in mind the discrepancies that I’ve listed above, particularly regarding Premium Economy and Economy redemptions, as many routes will be substantially cheaper by using Flying Club miles rather than Avios.