Earlier in the week both Virgin American and Virgin Atlantic sent emails about their partnership. I am not a member of Virgin Australia’s Velocity program, but pretty sure that they did an email blast as well. I already wrote about using Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club miles on Virgin America flights. Some Virgin Atlantic redemptions on Virgin America’s short/medium haul flights make sense. There are not fuel surcharges or other “garbage” fees to pay – only the actual taxes.
The situation is entire different, however, if you try to redeem Virgin America Elevate points for flights on Virgin Australia or Virgin Atlantic. The small print on the emails tells about everything you need to now:
No wonder why Virgin America wanted to “hide” the taxes and fees to the small print. The actual tax portion of these taxes/fees in borderline negligible. The most are fuel surcharges that are buried in the “fees” section. I wrote about why airline love these fuel surcharges some time ago. One of the points is that they get to charge these on “free” award tickets as well
Here are two of examples for using Virgin America Elevate points on Virgin Atlantic:
San Francisco to Shanghai the long way via London is $2100 in taxes? That is borderline insane. The number of points required is reasonable at 110 000, however.
San Francisco to London? You can probably buy a revenue ticket albeit in economy for less than the taxes/fees of $1200 using Elevate points for a business seat. Again, the number of required miles is reasonable at 50000.
Here are two examples for using Virgin America Elevate points on Virgin Australia:
Los Angeles to Sydney anyone? The number of miles required is again reasonable, but the fuel surcharges are not. From $749 to $849 in fees?
Los Angeles to Brisbane instead of Sydney? The fees are $50 less, but still way too high.
And it does become borderline insane when you have Virgin America feeder flights for Virgin Atlantic flights.
New York to Sydney? 230K Elevate points + $849 in taxes/fees? You can fly for far less in first class on Qantas or United.
It is always good to have more partners where you can use your miles and points. At these levels redeeming for Virgin Atlantic or Virgin Australia doesn’t make hardly any sense if you are based in the United States. If you don’t have the miles just buy when US Airways is having their sale and redeem them for international business or first class. You only pay the real taxes and some ticketing fees.