TPG reader question: Can I book open-jaw flights with my Virgin Points on partner airlines?
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Virgin Atlantic is now a member of one of the “Big 3” global airline alliances becoming the only U.K. member airline of SkyTeam.
Before formally joining the alliance, Virgin Atlantic already had a joint venture with SkyTeam members Delta Air Lines and Air France/KLM, but now welcomes several new partners, including:
- Aerolíneas Argentinas
- Air Europa
- China Airlines
- Czech Airlines
- Garuda Indonesia
- ITA Airways
- Kenya Airways
- Korean Air
- Middle East Airlines
- Vietnam Airlines
- Xiamen Air
This opens up new redemption opportunities, especially in Asia, where SkyTeam has several airlines and hubs. Virgin Atlantic’s only Asian destination outside India is Shanghai (PVG), after they recently cancelled their long-standing Hong Kong (HKG) route. The airline is expected to announce a new service to Seoul (ICN), the home of its new SkyTeam member Korean Air, soon.
With new uses for your Virgin Points on these partner airlines, how can you maximise your travel, and what is the best way to book? This brings us to this week’s TPG reader question of the week.
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I am looking to use my Virgin points to travel to Hong Kong next year on Air France/KLM now that Virgin have cancelled their operation to the city. I recall reading that Air France/KLM are now allowing reward flights to be booked in single legs.
Would it be possible for me to use my Virgin points to fly LHR-SIN via CDG for the first leg and then HKG-LHR via CDG for the second leg?Bruce, TPG Reader
You can book any return journey like this as two one-way journeys. If your routing is complex, it may be bookable online if you book it as two one-ways, saving you the time of calling Virgin Flying Club. If you wanted to change or cancel both legs, you would have to pay two change/cancellation fees (as it is two separate bookings), but Virgin only charges £30 per booking, which I think is pretty reasonable, and I regularly book two one-way journeys like this.
The Flying Club website shows Air France/KLM redemptions online and several new SkyTeam options. However, it is not intuitive to show an open-jaw redemption, regardless of the operating airline. There is no issue booking a flight to Singapore (SIN), and out of Hong Kong (HKG); however, Bruce would need to make his own way from Singapore to Hong Kong.
Even when availability exists on each individual flight, I’m not seeing the Virgin website properly pricing Air France redemptions from the U.K. to and from Asia via Paris (CDG), so he would need to call Virgin to book this, and the agent can price this out, either as an open-jaw round-trip or two one-way tickets. Phone booking fees are waived for redemptions that cannot be booked online.
Both London to Singapore and Hong Kong to London are Zone 1 (Western Europe) to Zone 9 (Fat East Asia), so Bruce would need the following Virgin Points each way:
- 21,000 / 31,000 in economy on off-peak/peak dates
- 42,000 / 52,000 in premium on off-peak/peak dates
- 112,000 / 122,000 in business class on off-peak/peak dates
Other than around Christmas and the New Year period, January to March are off-peak dates. Virgin uses a different award chart for its Asian-based SkyTeam partners with no peak or off-peak dates. He would need more points in economy or premium economy on these SkyTeam airlines; however, in business class it would be just 100,000 Virgin Points each way. If Bruce were considering business class, flying with Korean Air, Vietnam Airlines or Garuda Indonesia would be slightly cheaper.
Fees, taxes and surcharges apply.,
Featured image by SENG CHYE TEO/GETTYS
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