Last month, John Klukas published a guest post on this blog: Fly business class to Africa for 50,000 miles round-trip (DC to Senegal). In that post, John described how Virgin Atlantic miles could be used to fly business class between DC and Senegal for 50K miles round-trip, or 25K miles one-way. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, the flight in question had just changed routing to a new airport in Senegal, and Virgin Atlantic’s computers weren’t able to see the flight and therefore the award was not bookable. Now, Virgin Atlantic’s systems have caught up with the new airport and the award is bookable again. Please see full details here: Fly business class to Africa for 50,000 miles round-trip (DC to Senegal).
The award price is amazing, but is it practical?
Obviously if you live in DC and want to fly to Senegal and if award space is available and if you have a way to get Virgin Atlantic points, then this award is a no-brainer. That’s a lot of ifs. Fortunately, for many who live in the eastern part of the US, it is fairly easy to get to DC (Washington Dulles airport, AKA IAD) to start your flight. And, on the other end, John’s post describes how to use miles to go beyond Senegal if you’d rather visit other African, European, or Middle Eastern destinations. So, for many, the award can be practical as long as the award space is available…
Award Space IAD to DSS
An easy way to find award space on this non-stop South African airways flight is via United.com. On the United.com home screen, start by selecting “One-way” and entering IAD as the origin and DSS as the destination (or do the opposite when looking for flights from Africa). Click “My dates are flexible” (important!). Then select the month you’d like to travel, the number of people traveling, and select “Business” rather than Economy. Finally, select the boxes to “Search for award travel” and “Nonstop“. Press Search.
By following the above steps, you should then see a calendar like this:
The dates with solid lines have economy awards available and the dates with dotted lines should have business class awards available. When you click on a date with business class awards available, you should see something like this below the calendar:
This nonstop flight on South African Airways is what you’re looking for. The 80k saver award shows that the business class award is available on the date you selected. To be clear, it won’t cost you 80,000 miles unless you book the flight with United Airlines miles. This exercise was just to see if the award was available. To book this one-way flight for 25K miles you need to call Virgin Atlantic.
If you’d like to fly round-trip, then repeat the exercise above to find award space for your return trip.
As you can see above, award space for 2 in business class is hardly plentiful, but it does exist.
Getting Virgin Atlantic miles
All of the major transferable points currencies (Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and SPG) transfer to Virgin Atlantic. Bank of America also issues a Virgin Atlantic cobranded credit card that routinely offers a 90K-ish sign up bonus (with a pretty hefty spend to get the full bonus). Check Frequent Miler’s Best Offers page to find up-to-date info about that offer.
- Amassing Membership Rewards
- Amassing Ultimate Rewards
- Top 10 shortcuts to earning SPG points
- Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard Deep Dive: Maximize Earnings and Status
Given the sparse award space and the limited number of flights out of Senegal (found here) this is not an ideal option for those of us who live away from DC and are unlikely to make Senegal our ultimate destination. Instead, I think of this as a great option to keep in mind just in case my travel plans ever align.
How about you? Will you book this award if award space is available?