Virgin America Eliminates Fuel Surcharges on Virgin Australia Award Redemption
Virgin America is a revenue-based frequent flyer program when using points for their own flights (points costs are based on the price of the ticket you’re buying) but there’s an award chart when redeeming for travel on partners.
US – Australia business class awards on Virgin Australia cost 45,000 Virgin America Elevate points one way or 80,000 points roundtrip. In the past there have been taxes and fuel surcharges in addition to points, with those fuel surcharges costing more than $400 each way.
Virgin America no longer collects fuel surcharges on Virgin Australia flights, so the cost of these awards just went down by better than $800 roundtrip.
Indeed, without fuel surcharges even an economy award (25,000 points one way or 40,000 points roundtrip) will make sense for some.
Virgin Australia Business Class is One of the Easiest, Best Ways to Get to Australia
Australia is one of the toughest awards there is. There’s not a whole lot of non-stop flights between North America and Australia. There’s Qantas, Delta, United, Air Canada, and Virgin Australia.
Qantas you mostly have to book when their schedule loads in order to have a shot at premium cabin awards, except for the odd Los Angeles – Brisbane flight.
Delta may have low level awards for two passengers but a couple of days per year.
United and Air Canada are both really really tough for award space on this route.
Virgin Australia on the other hand has historically been great for awards. I’ve even regularly found 4 business class award seats on the same flights even at peak holiday periods. Although availability goes in streaks — it will disappear for a time almost entirely, and then come back in spades.
A Quality Product
I just flew Virgin Australia Los Angeles – Brisbane and onto Cairns. The current configuration on a Boeing 777 is seven seats across, which is tight, and yet the seats (while not especially private) were very comfortable and fully flat. Service was good and so was the food, trip report coming soon.
They’re refreshing the business class cabin with reverse herringbone seats which I consider the best business class offering in the world. (That could impact availabiltiy.)
Pairing Virgin America Miles One-Way With Delta Miles May Make Sense
Delta now offers one-way awards at 80,000 miles between the US and Australia. That means you could combine a Delta award one-way and a Virgin Australia award the other.
80% Bonus on Purchased Virgin America Points Going On Now
Virgin America is offering up to an 80% bonus on purchased miles. (You have to log in to see the details, though I produce them below.)
I’ve seen them run this offer a couple of times before — though in the fall it was only for 8 hours. This time it’s valid through April 4.
With this offer — at the 80% bonus level — you’re paying about 2.9 cents per mile, which sounds high but Virgin America’s currency is somewhat deflated compared to most mileage programs.
Virgin America’s points are worth 2.2 cents apiece towards Virgin America travel, so it’s not a good deal to buy points and redeem them on Virgin America. But it can be a good deal to top off an account towards a specific award.
You can buy 20,000 points per calendar year exclusive of bonuses, so this offer lets you buy up to 36,000 points. You’ll still need 9000 more.
Transfers from American Express Membership Rewards
Virgin Australia is a Membership Rewards transfer partner, points transfer normally at 2:1 (which makes some sense since it’s a ‘deflated’ currency with points worth nearly double what a normal airline is worth).
American Express runs semi-frequent transfer bonuses to Virgin America.
(HT: One Mile at a Time)