100th Post! – Using Virgin America points for a Virgin Australia Award Ticket
Wow! This is my 100th blog post for Palo Will Travel. I’ve been creating content for over 2 years now and it’s still a blast to reflect on my experiences and share them with all of you. Let me know where you’d like to travel next and the 10th comment below will win a $25 LoungeBuddy credit!
With the upcoming merger of Alaska Airlines and Virgin America I’ve decided to spend a good chunk of my Virgin America points I’ve accumulated over the years. The best values are redeeming them with their international award redemption partners. Unfortunately, they do limit availability so it makes it extremely hard to redeem them. My last redemption was back in 2013 when I was able to redeem 35,000 Virgin points for a roundtrip ticket from LAX-SIN on Singapore Airlines in Economy. It now costs 40,000 points just to get you to Tokyo (1/2 way there). The current redemption rates can be found here: https://www.virginamerica.com/cms/elevate-frequent-flyer/redeem-points
I went ahead and called Virgin America’s “burn desk” a few months ago (multiple times) to check the availability of a Virgin Australia award. The dates I was looking for was a peak time (summer) so I knew the availability would be tough for any class. Of course I want to try Virgin Australia’s new Business Class but they only release those seats for award redemptions up to 7 days prior to the flight. They only operate 2 flights between Australia and the US. They are LAX to either Brisbane (BNE) or Sydney (SYD). Given the ease of transfers within Australia from either airport I mentioned to the agent to check both. It took 3 phones calls to find someone who knew what they were doing but Kim pulled it off. She was able to book me in Premium Economy from LAX to BNE for 35,000 points & $32.70 in taxes one-way. I was very satisfied with the redemption but on the return they only had Economy from SYD to LAX for 25,000 points & $79.06 in taxes one-way. Given the flight times I’m fine with flying Economy class on the return and upgraded to a Economy Space + seat for AUD 135 to enhance the experience just like the AA Main Cabin Extra seats I’m used to flying on this route.
For 60,000 Virgin America points & $111.76, I’m able to fly roundtrip on Virgin Australia from the US to Australia. It will be nice to compare the new Premium Economy seats to the one I flew last year given they only have 3 rows of it now. For the same ticket it would have cost USD $3,197.60 which puts the value per point for this redemption at $0.0514. This is more than double the value compared to redeeming these points for Virgin America flights which have a value of $0.022 per point.
Tip: Call multiple times as all agents don’t know all the tricks for finding availability and be very flexible if you are redeeming Virgin America points on international redemption partners.