Virgin Atlantic – Flying Club Value

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Lots of people talk about what bad value mileage redemptions are with the Virgin Atlantic program. Most of these discussions are around the premium cabins and surcharges. However if you plan accordingly Virgin is actually one of the most cost efficient ways of getting to Europe .

Taxes out of London are notoriously high and they grow if you want to travel in business or above. However taxes into London or not. If you find yourself with Flying Club points there is always excellent availability and one way economy fares off peak are 10,000 from the east coast to London with approx $150 in tax which is a steal. On a similar note Hong Kong to London is 12,500 miles with approx $40 in fees. Compared to anyone else these are bargain fares.

If you use partners such as rocketmiles or kaligo those kind of balances are easily racked up with a few hotel nights. You can also credit Delta flights. My intention is to use 22,500 miles and try their 787 premium economy cabin from Hong Kong to London in the not too distant future.

Try it out availability is great and there are definitely worse ways to travel on either of these routes.

The Layover – Be Creative 

The layover is something most people dispise they want to get from A to B as quick as possible. The concept of flying somewhere else to catch a flight is alien to them, unless the ticket they buy insists on it. Recently a friend asked advise on flights to Miami from Dublin. There were really cheap fares from Düsseldorf so I advised get yourself there and connect. In the end they paid over €300 extra each and connected in London anyway. 

Sure there is some risk if your initial flight is cancelled and you miss the connection it’s on you but if you give yourself enough time you would be pretty unlucky for this to happen. But the real beauty of traveling like this is getting to see places you might not otherwise go to. 

Taxes and fees are notoriously high flying to the US out of London, but low coming back in. So I tend to use miles to fly from the US to London but not the other way around as the out of pocket makes it pretty pointless. The problem up until recently was there weren’t many options when booking one way flights. Often one way is more expensive than a return on the major carriers. 

On one trip I found a super cheap evening  fare out of Copenhagen. Then booked an early morning date to get there. All in it cost about £130 and I got to spend a day sightseeing in Copenhagen which was really enjoyable and somewhere I likely never would have had a reason to visit. 

Sure you spend some money on activities when you do this but you could be spending €600 extra to spend five hours in Heathrow…..

The Magic Number 

The problem with air miles nowadays is that you really don’t get very many for flying if you are booking cheaper tickets. Fortunately it is now very easy to earn them on the ground and on the internet. Every day new bonuses and offers pop up – some are good, some are bad but they will all add to your mileage account in one way or another. 

But what do we need the miles for in the first place? You probably aren’t going to get enough miles for a round the world trip through shopping and dining portals, but you probably can collect enough to travel domestically.

The current saver rates on the main US carriers are approx 12.5K miles for a domestic flight. Which includes transcontinental flights such as New York to San Francisco for example. This is really good value and very easy to achieve and good fun too. International routes tend to start at about 30K which are harder to get too but far from impossible. 

Collecting miles is a fun hobby. Finding deals and bonuses are also quite satisfying. What’s my number 12.5K – Sitting on a plane to California for $5.60 is great, no matter what way you look at it. 

I’ll post a few tricks for boosting the balances soon in the meantime open a Virgin Elevate account. It will be worth it !!

Ryanair the start of it all! 

For those living in Europe Ryanair really opened up the continent to a new type of traveller. All of a sudden it was possible to visit lots of different countries for a fraction of what it cost previously. Sure Charleroi wasn’t Brussels and Girona wasn’t Barcelona but it was close enough for those who didn’t care, and gave those who did care something to write to the newspapers and complain about. 

The first time I remember really taking advantage was with a flight to Edinburgh. I may be wrong but I think at the time Ryanair wasn’t happy with Easyjet for offering Dublin to Edinburgh flights, so they charged something like €5 each way until Easyjet retreated.  At the time I was in university and managed to get about twenty people to book flights for a one night trip. (A feat never repeated, so easily at least) 

So off we went on a Tuesday morning saw Edinburghs sites, ate haggis, drank really cheap beer in the students union, got lost, hit a night club and somehow everybody made it back to the airport the following morning for our 6am flight back. It was a great trip and I’m pretty sure there have been marriages off the back of it. But really it was the start of  relatively unplanned carefree international travel for the price of a train to the outskirts of Dublin. 

From that point peoples attitudes to travel changed. It wasn’t two weeks in Spain once a year anymore (if you were lucky). Now multiple trips were affordable, no matter how many times you found yourself on a bus to Frankfurt Hahn saying never again!!!!

Why am I here?

As long as I can remember I’ve had my head in the skies. Watching the trails planes left behind while wondering where they were heading.

As the years went by I started to ride those trails and have visited numerous countries all over the world, living in a few along the way. Strangely I am always thinking about the next trip before the one I’m on has ended.

I have realized that while on the ground my head is still in the skies as I constantly find myself planning trips, alternative routes and looking for bargains. There have been many adventures with a lot of lessons learnt along the way and there are many more to come. So instead of boring my friends with my travel plans and my points and miles philosophies, I thought I’d write about them. Hope you enjoy!!