Virgin Atlantic Flying Club - Reward flights in Summer holidays
May 8, 12, 8:30 am
I am quite new to this forum, and not a very frequent flyer, but I wonder if you can give me some advice.
I have a fairly large quantity of Tesco Clubcard Points saved up. in the past I have used them against the cost of holidays to Orlando with Virgin Holidays. However, now I see that they can be converted to Virgin Miles. I have enough saved to qualify for four free economy flights to Orlando, which works out a lot better than simply taking off the cost of a holiday.
We would need to travel in school holidays though so my question is-how likely would I be to get return flights for four adults in the school summer holidays 2013-roughly the last two weeks of July through to end of August. We would want about three weeks away, but could be flexible about exact dates.
I need to know if it is worth converting my Tesco Clubcard points to Virgin miles or whether this is so unlikely its not worth doing.
Many thanks for any advice.
May 8, 12, 10:53 am
Generally, using miles for economy flights is not cost effective since the sum total of fees, taxes, and fuel surcharges can sometimes come close to the cheapest ticket price. Note a free flight is not actually free.
That said, in summer, fares are higher and more savings can be made. However, you're asking for four reward seats in peak season and while I've heard this can be done, converting and taking a chance that you'll get four on your preferred dates is just that, a chance.
I've no experience of transferring Tesco points to FC miles - is it done automatically and does it happen very quickly - will let someone more experienced answer?
If the answer is yes and yes, one thing might be to get on the line with VS to do a search of availability, and if the miles transfer is quick (e.g. my Amex Points transfer in minutes), then only transfer when you know there's availability and the price is right.
May 8, 12, 11:40 am
4 will be difficult in summer and personally I can't see 4 being available on the same flight to Orlando either. Hard but not impossible.
But as the flights to MCO are frequent (generally two a day sometimes three from LGW), you may manage it if you are a little flexible by e.g.
+ Splitting your party up (you mention 4 adults rather than 2 adults + 2 children which may not be practical) onto different flights (and if need be two go out one day and the other two the next) ditto for the return.
+ Having a slightly off number of days away - you mention three weeks so 21 days but also consider (say) 18/19/20/22/23 days too.
+ Weekends are popular so try flying mid-week to mid-week
May 9, 12, 1:21 pm
A word of warning re the vouchers. I saved up a lot in readiness for the avios bonus offer in Feb, and transferred just over £1000 worth, or tried to. After 28 days Tesco audit dept phoned me and said that they would only allow £500 into Avios as i had accumulated the vouchers with my credit card, partly with business expenses. I intend to contest this shortly. If you are going to transfer the vouchers i would do £200 a quarter as this amount has worked for me in the past.
On the question of the seats, i agree that economy is a very poor use of miles. Have you also looked at miles plus money fares (2000 miles can reduce the cost considerably). I was keen to get seats to the west coast last year in August, and checked daily, and then after a seat sale ended, masses of dates and seats were released and i booked about 10 days in advance, however i appreciate this isn't practical for the family trip to disney. If your flying economy it may be better to use the vouchers with virgin holidays (if its still allowable).
May 11, 12, 4:09 am
Thank you for your replies and advice. Some interesting things to think about. We could go two and two I think, and I would be very happy to stretch our 21 dys to even longer!
Re costs, I think taxes etc would come to about £1000 for four flights, compared to approx £4K without any points. The number of Tesco points would get us about £1500 off a holiday, so I think reward flights is the best way to use them if possible.
I will have to keep my eyes peeled to see when flights become available.
May 13, 12, 12:58 pm
It can be done, 4 tickets during summer holidays to Orlando, as I've managed it. Key is flexibility, even better if you can cover Manchester and Gatwick, perhaps throw Miami into the mix as well.
I see all the arguments for "don't use points for economy", and I would generally agree, except for summer holiday time to Orlando ! Prices can easily be 700gbp or more each, in which case the points are saving you 500gbp or so, a not insignificant saving.
Flights are typically released at around 330 days before, but its worth looking before this. Remember, you can book oneway tickets for half the cost, so can bag the outbound when its released. I've had most success, as UKtravelbear said, with Tues, Wed and Thur availability.
Once converted, your miles will expire after 3 years unless you earn some more i.e. convert more tesco points. Therefore if you are unsuccessful, you will be able to use the miles for something else the year after, for example the Caribbean still has availability now for this summer. It may be small consolation, but 10k virgin miles will also get you a £50 virgin holiday voucher. Its probably not worth as much as tesco points directly, but would give you some form of fallback.
Sep 10, 12, 1:19 pm
Well, I DID IT!!
I managed to book 4 PE flights travelling out in July school holidays, and bagged 4 flights home today, 22 days later. Total cost is about £1400 compared to about £4600 booked today, so a whopper saving.
It was getting a bit nerve wracking when we had outbound flights but no returns where coming up, but looks like the risk paid off.
Not sure I would take the chance again though-I did think at one point that I had made a costly mistake!
Sep 10, 12, 2:44 pm
A fine example of patience, planning and holding your nerve!! Sounds like a good use of miles. It can be done, as you have just shown! Have a great trip :)
Sep 10, 12, 3:19 pm
Well done!!! Fortune favours the brave, ^
Sep 17, 12, 7:13 am
Fab to hear that you managed it, PE is pretty good :)
Sep 20, 12, 1:29 am
Thank you all, really looking forward to it!
Sep 22, 12, 6:58 pm
I've just flown new upgraded PE to Orlando, it's amazing, enjoy!
Sep 24, 12, 10:49 am
Great news, and for coming back and posting your success.
Sep 25, 12, 1:11 am
Just to answer slinkys question about tesco, they are converted as soon as you put the voucher number in online, they immediately appear on your miles account