I posted a couple of weeks ago about some great ANA award redemption options, probably the best of which is using miles for Virgin Upper Class. Since I have enough miles in my ANA account now to book almost any award I’d like (100,000+ miles), I’ve decided to start doing some experimenting. Next week I’ll be calling to see how readily available awards are on Jet Airways and Qatar in premium cabins, but this evening I called regarding Virgin.
I was specifically eyeing an itinerary from LAX-LHR roundtrip. I called them up, and for once got a very friendly, Japanese agent. In my experience the Japanese ANA agents are great, while the others are awful. Anyway, she explained the process of having to request the award space directly from Virgin, which means she has to type in the flight number and wait a few seconds to see if there’s award space.
Based on my small sample size, ANA’s award availability for Virgin Upper Class mirrored what Virgin offers through their frequent flyer program.
I’ve heard that taxes from the East Coast of the US to London tend to be in the $250 range, so I was really curious how much it would be all the way from LAX; I was expecting somewhere around $400. I was totally shocked when the agent told me $191! That means an award from LAX-LHR roundtrip is 85,000 miles and $191, while booking it directly with Virgin would be 100,000 miles and $713.
I’m very tempted to book an award on Virgin, and from LAX no less. The alternative is JFK, and JFK-LHR is just too short of a flight, in my opinion Furthermore, since fares from Tampa to the West Coast are similar to TPA to New York, I might as well rack up some extra miles.
I’ll report back on Jet and Qatar.