Another Data Point: ANA Awards on Virgin

I posted a couple of months back about the reasonable taxes that ANA charges when booking awards on Virgin, and I wanted to add another data point. I just called to inquire about an award on Virgin from Orlando to London (Gatwick) in Upper Class, since I’m thinking about a quick weekend trip to London in February. The grand total for such an award comes out to 68,000 miles and $126.60 in taxes! Those taxes are less than what any other US carrier charges for a US to UK award, at least as far as I’ve seen.

Incredible deal, although I’m still trying to decide whether or not to do this. I’m all for maximizing the experience, and I’m not sure that it’s being done in this case. While departing Orlando is incredibly convenient since I can drive 1.5 hours to the airport and hop right on a nonstop flight to Europe, I feel like I’m missing out on part of the “Virgin experience.” A crappy contracted lounge is used in Orlando (instead of the Clubhouse), and they only fly to Gatwick from Orlando, so I wouldn’t get to experience the famous Heathrow Clubhouse.

Thoughts?

Comments

  1. If you are going to do it, do it up right. My assumption is that you’ll be excited when the trip comes around, so you won’t necessarily be too bummed about not leaving out of MCO. What’s another flight for you, anyways? Ha!

  2. I dunno just how great some of the US clubhouses are. in IAD, Ive used the VS clubhouse (QR uses it), and the lounge itself was in pretty poor shape (physically). The service/food was still decent though.

    Your certainly right about LHR though

  3. The way I look at it, the only other logical option would be to depart JFK. The plus side of that is that the Clubhouse there is pretty good, but the big downside is that the flight is a good two hours shorter than MCO-LGW. Add to that the ticket cost of FL-NY as well as the risk of delays/misconnects, and I’m not even sure it’s worth it….

  4. I’d stick with the nonstop. Seriously, the VSCH at JFK is fine, but not worth going out of your way at all. Also, consider how much more use you’ll get out of the flight itself — more time to sleep, more time for eating, more time for all the other VS goodies. Flying from IAD or JFK is too fast, IMO, to get any real sleep.

  5. Come now, there has to be a routing through LAX, SFO, or even LAS. For 68,000 miles you need something other than a non-stop.

  6. Rochester Rich, unfortunately not. ANA awards are distance based. That being said LAX-LHR is still a great deal at only 85,000 miles, but my main constraint is time. Whie I’d have no problem buying a ticket to get to LA, that takes up too much time and turns this from a weekend trip to a weeklong trip.

    I like your thinking though! 😀

  7. You HAVE to return from Heathrow. You can’t do this award and NOT visit the LHR Clubhouse. JFK Clubhouse isn’t worth the trip. The IAD clubhouse certainly isn’t.

    Unless NH includes unflown segments of an open jaw in their distance calculations (an outside chance, but possible, I’ve never checked) why not fly MCO-LGW/LHR-JFK and then catch a B6 flight back down?

  8. In fact, let me make an even further claim — without the Virgin Clubhouse at Heathrow (another way to check it out of course would be to fly LHR-SIN in SQ F…) there’s not really much point to trying the product.

    Contra as219 above who wrote, “more time for eating” .. the food on VS is surprisingly bad. And the seat? It’s lovely, but you’ve already tried the seat more or less, having flown NZ C.

    The one piece of the experience worth trying, if you haven’t already, is to check out the LHR Clubhouse — my architect was amazed when he visited! They have a pool! I don’t think it compares to the TG BKK F departure experience, and I prefer the drama of a Porsche to the plane at FRA. But it’s another one of those experiences you need to rack up.

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