This week I needed to book a one-way redemption using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles from London to Miami.
In my (albeit limited) experience of looking to redeem miles on this route, securing business/first class seats using Avios can be pretty tough going. Personally, I’ve found Virgin Upper Class to be a better bet in terms of reward availability.
The flight I was after was just a couple of weeks away, so I was glad to get an ExpertFlyer email notification that reward availability had opened up on that date.
Except I had a problem. I had been looking to top up a Virgin account with American Express Membership Rewards points. American Express points transfer almost instantly to Virgin, so that wasn’t an issue, but I was waiting for Amex to post the points from a sign-up bonus that I had triggered. And I really didn’t want to lose that seat in the meantime…
How to put Virgin Atlantic flights on hold using miles
I could have probably used miles from a family member’s account to make the booking. But I preferred not to do that unless absolutely necessary – especially as those American Express points would be available to me within a couple of days.
I recalled reading that partner reservations on airlines such as ANA and Air New Zealand made using Virgin miles can be put on hold – so I thought I’d ring Virgin and see if they can hold an actual Virgin flight for me.
And it turns out they can.
The Virgin agent I spoke to couldn’t have been more accommodating and had everything confirmed within about three minutes. I was initially offered a 48-hour hold but politely requested longer and was given 4-day hold with a minimum of fuss.
He provided me with a booking reference number and I was able to view the booking immediately on the Virgin website:
I was even able to select a seat – for free. Looking at you BA!
So I have four days to call back and ticket the reservation once the required miles have transferred from American Express to Virgin.
How it works
You can’t do this online and need to ring Virgin Atlantic to put a flight on hold.
Here are the key points to be aware of:
- There is no requirement to have any Virgin miles in your account at the time of booking.
- There were no miles deducted at time of booking and no need to provide a credit card to secure the reservation.
- I didn’t ask whether this was the maximum hold time permitted, four days was plenty for me but a longer hold may be possible.
- There’s also no need to cancel the reservation if I decided not to go ahead with it. If you don’t call to ticket the reservation within the allotted hold time, the booking will simply fall away.
For me, this is a crucial advantage for Virgin Flying Club miles over BA Avios.
Granted, by allowing you to cancel Avios redemptions for free within 24 hours, BA effectively allows free 24-hour holds on Avios bookings. However, to do that, you need to have enough miles in your account (and your card is charged) before booking.
The Virgin version allows you to put flights on hold, go home and discuss it with your spouse/family/friends and then firm up the booking if you decide to go through with it.
The ability to put Virgin reward flights on hold without any miles in your account is a real plus point and something I’ll definitely be using again.
Have you ever ‘reserved’ flights using Virgin miles?
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