Earlier this year Virgin Atlantic announced they would be add flights between London and Seattle, operated by a Boeing 787-9. The route was originally slated to begin as of May 1, 2017, but Virgin Atlantic will now be taking over the Delta service on the route beginning March 26, 2017.
We’ve already seen some route swaps between Delta and Virgin Atlantic on transatlantic flights, so no real surprise there, particularly as Delta and Virgin Atlantic are consolidating their presence at Heathrow.
The route will be operated with the following schedule:
VS105 London to Seattle departing 11:00AM arriving 1:20PM
VS106 Seattle to London departing 7:10PM arriving 2:00PM (+1 day)
Expanded international service is great for Seattle, but for the rest of us, the best part is the swoon-worthy amounts of award space.
Seriously, so much award space.
The route launches on March 26th, and I see multiple business class award seats on every flight through the end of the schedule.
See the purple bars?
Those represent days with six or more business class award seats.
Six! Or more!
I’ll wait while you scroll back up to gawk at all the space.
The same space mostly shows on Delta.com, though their search engine is more convoluted.
What miles should I use?
Delta SkyMiles, almost certainly. They charge just 125,000 miles for a roundtrip award in business class, and you’ll pay just a few dollars in fees. (Those of you who took advantage of the recent bonus offers on the SkyMiles credit cards are sitting pretty right now). Otherwise, you can transfer miles from American Express Membership Rewards (instant) or Starwood Preferred Guest (~5 days).
For that rate you can add flights to Seattle, or from London, but you’ll want to avoid airplanes that say “Delta” on the outside, otherwise the pricing will go bananas.
That still leaves you with a ton of options, however. Alaska Airlines is a Delta partner, so if your city is served by Alaska it should be relatively easy to add a connecting flight. To find Alaska space:
- Check on aa.com (counter-intuitive, but easier, trust me)
- Look for “A” and “W” space using ExpertFlyer
On the other end, you can add flights on any SkyTeam partner (though obviously not all of these serve London):
|Aeroflot||Alitalia||Delta Air Lines||Middle East Airlines|
|Aerolíneas Argentinas||China Airlines||Garuda Indonesia||Saudia|
|Aeromexico||China Eastern||Kenya Airways||TAROM|
|Air Europa||China Southern||KLM||Vietnam Airlines|
|Air France||Czech Airlines||Korean Air||Xiamen Airlines|
You will almost certainly have to search segment by segment, write down the flights you want, and then call. Delta.com doesn’t seem to like to route people on Virgin Atlantic when there’s a Delta or Air France option available (at any price).
The big, huge, annoying, caveat to using Delta miles is that even if you do everything right you might get some bizarre pricing situation. So even if all your flights are on partners, and everything is perfect, the pricing engine could decide that Medford > Seattle > London > Prague can’t be less than 80k miles each way.
Just be prepared to play with it a little before transferring your miles. I like to wait to transfer points from American Express until the agent has priced the flights, but that’s not necessary if your trip prices on the website.
What other miles should I use?
If you’re not using SkyMiles, you can still redeem miles for Virgin Atlantic, but you will pay fuel surcharges.
You can, technically, use Virgin Atlantic miles. It’s 100,000 miles for the roundtrip, plus a crap-ton of fuel surcharges:
Not recommended unless you already have VS miles. Please don’t transfer points to Virgin Atlantic directly for this.
As an alternative, Virgin America Elevate offers a much better value. They haven’t actually loaded the Seattle flights into their calculator, but I think it’s reasonable to assume they’ll be similar to the prices from London and San Francisco.
You can also redeem Singapore KrisFlyer miles. It’s still 100,000 miles for the roundtrip, and you still pay fuel surcharges. I’m not sure there’s a reason to do this unless you already have Singapore KrisFlyer miles.
Award space from the West Coast to Europe can be hard to come by, and Virgin Atlantic is a fantastic option. It’s a sassy airline, with lie-flat seats, and probably the best business class lounge in Europe.
If you are looking for flights to Europe next Spring, have access to SkyMiles, and live in an Alaska Airlines city, this is pretty much a no-brainer.
Six seats! Tell me what you end up booking!