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  • Graham

Virgin Atlantic's award 'sweet spot' for ANA flights just got sweeter.

One of the best values in all of award travel just got even better, and anyone with American credit-card points should pay particular attention.

While it’s a relatively small airline, Virgin Atlantic’s “Flying Club" award program offers a few incredible “sweet spots”, particularly for long-haul Business and First awards operated by Japan’s ANA (All Nippon Airways). Previously, you could only book complete round-trip travel this way, but this week Virgin Atlantic updated its rules to allow one-way bookings on ANA flights.

The chart below shows the round-trip cost; for one-way bookings, use half the number.

As you can see, short-haul domestic and regional travel is nothing special, but gets into huge value on long-haul flights between Japan and Europe or North America. For example, a 14-hour flight from New York or Washington DC to Tokyo costs just 47,500 points one-way in Business class, or 60,000 in First, while the same exact flight would cost 75,000 and 110,000 Aeroplan points, respectively, or 88,000 and 121,000 United miles.

There are some other solid values in the Flying Club award chart, like 50,000 points for one-way flights from the United States to the EU in Delta One, but ANA remains the sweetest of the sweet spots.

ANA First Class seating (photo: ANA)

So how do we get Virgin Atlantic points?

Most of us aren’t flying tens of thousands of miles a year on Virgin Atlantic, so the best way to acquire these points will be by transferring credit-card points; the good news for US travellers is that Flying Club points are a 1-to-1 transfer from American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points. Unfortunately, Canadian Membership Rewards points are not eligible.

Tokyo has been near the top of the list on my personal post-pandemic travel to-do list, and when it happens this will be part of my strategy for sure, especially if I can fly into Tokyo, take the bullet train and fly home from Osaka with the domestic Osaka-Tokyo leg included.

As always, I urge you not to transfer points from one program to another until you’ve verified that award space is available on the specific flights you want.


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