If you haven't heard yet, I'll be taking my mom to London this fall! I'd briefly mentioned that we'd be flying Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class, but I wanted to write a detailed post about how I redeemed our award tickets.
What Airline Did I Choose?
Based on my miles/points balances, as well as award availability, I decided to fly Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class from Chicago (ORD) to London (LHR). There was almost unlimited award space on this route and Chicago is an easy positioning flight away from Omaha.
Which Frequent Flier Program Did I Use?
Virgin Atlantic's Flying Club charges 80,000 points for a round-trip ticket in their Upper Class from Chicago to London.
Virgin Atlantic's partner, Virgin America, only charges 35,000 points for the same round-trip ticket through their Elevate program.
Instead of redeeming miles directly through Virgin Atlantic's Flying Club, it was a better value to redeem these tickets through their partner Virgin America Elevate.
What Point Currencies Did I Use?
Over the course of the year I'd established a small cache of transferable points currencies from various sign up bonuses on my credit cards. For this trip I had roughly 90,000 points available to transfer from my American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Starwood Preferred Guest accounts.
Where Did I Transfer My Points?
I started by transferring 6,000 American Express Membership Rewards points to my Starwood Preferred Guest account at a 1,000 : 350 ratio.
That ratio is HORRIBLE, but I needed an even 40,000 SPG points to be eligible for the SPG transfer bonus. After I transferred my 40,000 SPG points to Virgin America's Elevate program, I ended up with 50,000 Elevate points after the bonus.
Next, I transferred 32,000 Citi ThankYou points to Virgin America Elevate at a 2 : 1 ratio to put my grand total at 66,000 Elevate points.
I topped off our awards by transferring 8,000 American Express Membership Reward points at a 2 : 1 ratio to give me exactly 70,000 Virgin America Elevate points.
I gave Virgin America a call and not more than 10 minutes later our tickets were booked!
All In All
This was the first time I was able to redeem my points for a premium cabin. The process turned out to be a bit more intricate than my last award ticket, but I made it work! My mom and I are really excited to fly Virgin America's Upper Class and see what London has to offer.