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#935232 by trusse03
15 May 2017, 17:05
Hi all

So me and my partner are getting married next April.

We're hoping to honeymoon to include San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. We want to include Upper Class flights at least on the way out.

I've got 115,000 miles at the moment. Now am I best booking a Virgin Holiday and using them to discount the flight? Or booking all the individual segments ourselves and using the miles to upgrade?

All ideas warmly welcomed.
#935233 by mikethe3rd
15 May 2017, 17:25
trusse03 wrote:Hi all

So me and my partner are getting married next April.

We're hoping to honeymoon to include San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. We want to include Upper Class flights at least on the way out.

I've got 115,000 miles at the moment. Now am I best booking a Virgin Holiday and using them to discount the flight? Or booking all the individual segments ourselves and using the miles to upgrade?

All ideas warmly welcomed.


Book everything yourself. I might be in the minority (highly doubtful) but I've never seen a good deal on VH.

I personally prefer hotels.com. You usually get about 8 miles per £ from ShopsAway, their prices include the tax plus you get a free night after booking 10 nights.

If you're flying rather than driving and prefer quality to tier points, I'd recommend Virgin America First for your internal hops. Don't get too attached to them as they disappear in 2019.

Try and avoid the Easter fortnight - I believe it runs pretty much from the 1st to the 15th April. I'm sure you're aware, but you'll need some flexibility when trying to bag two G's to the West Coast.

When you're asking for ideas; have you been to these places before? Are you looking for accommodation ideas, things to do, restaurants to try or are you solely needing advice with your stack of miles?

Finally, congratulations on your engagement!
#935236 by buns
15 May 2017, 17:42
Fully agree with Mike.

The only benefit of boooking through VH is of course being able to spread the cost, as booking flight direct would mean paying in full up front.

Congratulations!!

buns
#935274 by DoomWolf
16 May 2017, 21:32
Definitely better to book things yourself. That way you get a much wider choice of hotels and the standard of hotels in the US is generally very good for the money you pay. I started doing it myself after a VH flydrive tour of the Deep South where I was a little disappointed by the standard of some of the hotels (we even had to pay to upgrade a room ourselves in New Orleans) even though we'd paid for the Superior package upgrade. I also enjoy the whole planning process of researching places and hotels before booking them.
#935278 by Eggtastico
17 May 2017, 07:10
115k is not enough for an upper flight. Its 135k - 155k depending if your going peak season. Spring Break/Easter may make it peak season.
You might get there with Money + Miles (£6 discount for every 1000 miles I think).
#935282 by mdhayes
17 May 2017, 09:40
can you top up you vigil FC account before you book? should be a easy to reach the miles needed in sign up bonuses for amex and virgin white/black card? but then its getting the Gs is the issue and thats a whole other thread.
#935283 by deep_south
17 May 2017, 09:48
I think you need to balance the "book it yourself" against the "package holiday" decision. If things go wrong, the package really comes into play; We had a BA holiday to Dubai last November where BA couldn't fix the plane so we had a 15 hour delay; BA Holidays offered to rebook our return flight a day later, and to move our hotel booking back a day. In the end we had to come back as planned and BA refunded the missed night within a couple of days. if I had arranged it myself, we would have lost the first night completely. Also you can sometimes find a combined flight / hotel / car package can work out cheaper - in some cases much cheaper -than the individual elements, but not always.

On the other hand booking it yourself means you can get exactly the elements you want, and sort out specific room grades for example. It can also be "fun" (or a hassle) working out exactly what you want, and since it is your honeymoon you probably won't care too much if you hit any delays along the way; your minds will be on other things.

VH are usually bvery flexible, so you can work out exactly what you want, and then ask them to price it. Compare it to doing it on your own, and then decide. VH seem to have their own "allocation" so if the cheap UC fares direct from Virgin have gone, they might still have their allocation available which can be a significant saving, but since you are planning this almost a year out that shouldn't be a consideration.
#935290 by cheesebag
17 May 2017, 15:30
indeed, If prices are comparable I'd go VH... just in case anything changes

I booked them to Mauritius in October, connecting in DXB from BHX with Emirates, From September EK are stopping one of the flights, thus leaving me in DXB for the return leg for 12 hours.

I phoned them, they were unaware of the EK flight change but then phoned me back and offered me a full refund which I have taken.
#935318 by trusse03
18 May 2017, 08:29
Thanks all.

Certainly gives us some ideas, and waiting for it to be -11 months, the actual wedding date is 20th April, so we're looking to fly out 22nd or 23rd April.

Dependant on prices, we may just do Las Vegas. We may also possibly do one but not both of the others. We're not 100% tied to doing all of them, what we do want to 100% include though is Vegas.
#935320 by Eggtastico
18 May 2017, 08:38
deep_south wrote:I think you need to balance the "book it yourself" against the "package holiday" decision. If things go wrong, the package really comes into play; We had a BA holiday to Dubai last November where BA couldn't fix the plane so we had a 15 hour delay; BA Holidays offered to rebook our return flight a day later, and to move our hotel booking back a day. In the end we had to come back as planned and BA refunded the missed night within a couple of days. if I had arranged it myself, we would have lost the first night completely.


Thats what Holiday insurance is for.
#935323 by pjh
18 May 2017, 09:31
Eggtastico wrote:
deep_south wrote:I think you need to balance the "book it yourself" against the "package holiday" decision. If things go wrong, the package really comes into play; We had a BA holiday to Dubai last November where BA couldn't fix the plane so we had a 15 hour delay; BA Holidays offered to rebook our return flight a day later, and to move our hotel booking back a day. In the end we had to come back as planned and BA refunded the missed night within a couple of days. if I had arranged it myself, we would have lost the first night completely.


Thats what Holiday insurance is for.


Depends on the level of service the company providing the insurance will deliver in terms of making / remaking arrangements.
#935327 by deep_south
18 May 2017, 10:48
Eggtastico wrote:
deep_south wrote:I think you need to balance the "book it yourself" against the "package holiday" decision. If things go wrong, the package really comes into play; We had a BA holiday to Dubai last November where BA couldn't fix the plane so we had a 15 hour delay; BA Holidays offered to rebook our return flight a day later, and to move our hotel booking back a day. In the end we had to come back as planned and BA refunded the missed night within a couple of days. if I had arranged it myself, we would have lost the first night completely.


Thats what Holiday insurance is for.


Very true - but in this case we arrived at the hotel at 05:00 to check in, and we ended up getting that first night "for free" from BA Holidays, as we had been due to arrive the previous afternoon. Insurance would have washed their hands of it. The EC/261 refund certainly helped as well...

It certainly isn't a simple decision either way... I only booked it that way as the holiday cost was less than the flights alone (CW/UC) booked with BA or VS; the ironic thing is we booked BA as the flight times were better for us - until the delay!
#935333 by ScoobySu
18 May 2017, 18:06
I can appreciate the safety net of booking a package, and tend to mix & match dependant on our plans.

For our recent USA trips (including the one we're currently on :cool:) we booked ourselves but made sure that all bookings are fully cancellable & refundable, usually up to 48/72 hours of arrival. That gives flexibility of flight changes and also gives the chance to rebook if rates go lower - last year I rebooked Aria in Vegas three times and this year twice!

For Vegas I'd recommend signing up to the various Players Clubs, as even before you get there you can get up to 20% off rack rates plus other offers.

One thing to be aware of however if booking direct with any USA hotel is that the initial rate quoted will exclude the various taxes and resort fees. VH (and others such as Expedia, Hotels.com etc) will include the taxes in their quote but not the resort fees.

Resort fees in Vegas are currently around $40 per night (including tax) and are paid direct to the hotel on arrival. The majority of Vegas hotels also charge parking fees now, as do LA and SFO. SFO in particular has high parking charges.

One big piece of advice though is to check the event calendar for all your planned destinations - both San Francisco and Vegas room rates are heavily impacted by conventions and events - for example our first night in Vegas next week is impacted by the Billboard Awards plus two conventions and we're paying $200 before tax and resort fees for that night. Later on our room rate is $85 a night! You've mentioned 22nd April? There is a HUGE convention in Vegas around then every year with 150k delegates which will mean rooms are in short supply!
#935402 by Eggtastico
21 May 2017, 09:59
ScoobySu wrote:One thing to be aware of however if booking direct with any USA hotel is that the initial rate quoted will exclude the various taxes and resort fees. VH (and others such as Expedia, Hotels.com etc) will include the taxes in their quote but not the resort fees.


I think its EU law that Taxes have to be included.
Its not only directly booked hotels, but any website that provides rooms without an EU presence.
First time I went to Vegas I booked direct with hotel. $9 a night! downside - it was Circus Circus
#935409 by SNOMO
21 May 2017, 16:47
Congratulations on your engagement.
Which ever way you decide to 'do' your honeymoon, book things as quickly as possible if your wanting to use miles for anything then you are picking very popular destinations on which to use them so your options will be limited if you leave it too late.
#935522 by starquake
25 May 2017, 17:04
We done a similar trip for our honeymoon late April- including Yosemite, Vegas, San Fran, LA, Grand Canyon, Palm Springs over a 3 week period. That trip we booked via VS as some of the hotels were horrendous booking alone in terms of price, and were way more to book independently (and with Y flights, car hire, accommodation for the entire 3 weeks coming to £2500 we couldn't complain). We didn't upgrade this trip.

Since, we have booked similar in 2015 again in earlier April - another tour, different routes, Napa, Sacramento the old gold country around Sonora, Pacific Coast Highway, Sedona -AZ - Monument Valley, Moab - onto Vegas, back to LA over 3 weeks with UC flight returns in/out of LA. Cost about the same for us (UC were full reward remptions) , but we did have to move the itinerary for a Vegas convention the previous poster mentioned around 21st April. We obviously had significant spending money on top of the rates for that.

Tips I would recommend for Vegas - if you have an Amex Platinum Charge Card - the Bellagio "finer" hotels rate can be a steal outside of convention time - in 2015, we paid £100 a night including resort fee for a room (which became a suite) with $100 resort credit usable on anything + 2 $30 Bellagio cafe or buffet comps per day. It almost was a free stay when you consider the value on that - especially when I checked in one day on my card, next day booked for Wife.

Wynn can be VERY cheap on Wynn insider rates in April - we've got $120 rooms including 2x buffet comps daily including resort fee via that program (sign up online, it's free). Encore is never as cheap as Wynn, but it's worth a stay.

For everywhere else we just booked flexible rates, and firmed up nearer time, or when decent "sales" came up in chains like Hilton to lower costs. Cheapest trip was a 10,000 hilton point stay at a Hampton inn overnight - closely followed by a small independent hotel in Sonora, which was amazing for the $50/night they charged.... Best hotel outside of Vegas we stayed in was Hilton resort in Sedona, Az, which we paid for (which I can highly highly recommend).
#935531 by ScoobySu
26 May 2017, 07:20
Eggtastico wrote:dont forget about myvegas game on facebook for vegas


And the apps - My Vegas, Blackjack, My Konami & Pop Slots!

We couldn't get free rooms using the points for this week, but have got two free tickets to Love, a $75 credit at Tender at Luxor (the steaks were as good if not better than Prime at Bellagio), two lots of Freeplay and the Nine Fine Irishmen credit, which we plan to use at Happy Hour to make go even further! Without considering the none-MGM rewards we've "saved" around $300 between the two of us, with no cash outlay but the time spent spinning - which hubby & I can do as we both work from home.

As well as the usual warnings about gambling, its useful to know that the rewards tend to be limited to MGM resorts and some require a stay in an MGM property on the actual day you want to redeem the award eg we have to be staying in an MGM property for the night we are going to see Love, the Freeplay sometimes needs a two night stay, and so on.
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