You Can Now Redeem Delta SkyMiles For Upgrades On Virgin Atlantic

While there are many things that frustrate me about Delta SkyMiles (like their lack of transparency), there’s no denying that they also try to make improvements once in a while in some areas. One area where they’ve improved nicely is with adding reciprocal upgrade opportunities on some partner airlines.

Delta has a transatlantic joint venture with Virgin Atlantic, and back in 2016 they added the ability for Diamond Medallion members to use Global Upgrades on Virgin Atlantic. It looks like they’re expanding that further now, as you can now redeem Delta miles to upgrade on Virgin Atlantic.


Virgin Atlantic 747

Per the SkyMiles News & Updates page:

Effective July 13, 2017, SkyMiles Members can use miles to upgrade from a purchased ticket on Delta-marketed, Virgin Atlantic-operated1 flights through Mileage Upgrade Awards. The following upgrade options are available for Members:

  • Upgrade from a purchased Virgin Atlantic Economy ticket to Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy or Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
  • Upgrade from a purchased Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy ticket to Virgin Atlantic Upper Class

To check prices and availability or book an upgrade, contact a SkyMiles representative by calling 1-800-323-2323. If you are a Medallion Member, check the Contact Us section in the Fly Delta app for your dedicated phone line.

Upgrades are available from purchased Economy tickets in Y, B, M, H, Q, or K class, and purchased Premium Economy tickets in P, A, or G class. Upgrades are based on availability and must be completed at least 24 hours before scheduled departure. Delta-marketed flights operated by Virgin Atlantic are only available between the United States and the United Kingdom. For more information, please visit Mileage Upgrade Awards.


Virgin Atlantic Upper Class

Much like with award tickets, Delta doesn’t publish how many miles are needed for upgrades. That’s even more ridiculous than them not publishing award costs, since upgrade costs aren’t dynamic, while award costs are.

However, last time I checked an upgrade from a Y, B, or M fare between the US and Europe cost 60,000 miles one-way, while an upgrade from an H, Q, or, K fare cost 80,000 miles one-way. I suspect the cost to upgrade on Virgin Atlantic will be the same.

This is a terrible use of miles, as a one-way Virgin Atlantic Upper Class award can be booked for as little as 85,000 Delta SkyMiles (it was only 70,000 miles prior to April, at which point SkyMiles hugely devalued their award pricing).

So upgrading costs only marginally less than outright booking an award ticket, and that doesn’t even account for the fare class requirements that Delta has.

With mileage upgrades, Delta is clearly targeting business travelers who already have a paid economy ticket (presumably because that’s what their corporate policy dictates), but don’t want to fly economy.

So while it’s nice that Delta has added this functionality, I don’t see this being of much use to those looking to maximize the value of their SkyMiles. Still, more options are always a good thing.

(Tip of the hat to @IadisGr8)

Comments

  1. It is 30K miles one way for an upgrade from Y or B fare on a purchased ticket on Delta flights not 60K. And since it is dollar based those tickets usually cost at least 3K dollars so you break even using miles to upgrade. My work will buy me a full fare Y economy ticket if the trip is over 14 hours door to door that i can then use to upgrade with miles or certificates, most expensive one was 5K dollars.

  2. I guess this could be useful if someone else pays for your coach ticket in one of the eligible fare classes, and you have no other way to upgrade.

  3. Do not waste your miles on this inferior product. The seat (at least on the A330, A340) and service are sub-par compared to Delta One (and many others).

  4. This thread https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/delta-air-lines-skymiles/1694851-skymiles-july-announcements.html gives data points on SkyMiles upgrade costs. Latest data points are that it is 30K/60K one-way. Still not great but a bit better.

    On Delta metal the upgrade costs are a bit more bearable because Delta upgrade space and award space isn’t all that closely correlated, and in particular Delta often seems to make upgrade space available close to departure, but closes off lower award buckets. So close to departure, where you would have the most success upgrading a Delta-operated flight with miles, it is likely that an upgrade costs far fewer miles than the award prices prevailing at that time. But on Virgin I believe they use the same fare bucket for awards and upgrades, so when these upgrades are available presumably you’d always be able to buy an 85K award as well.

  5. Can you still redeem delta miles for Virgin Atlantic flights? In 2016, any award flight that was available on Virgin I could book for 62.5K flight each way. Now when I look, I don’t see any virgin atlantic availability on Delta even if it is open on the VA website.

  6. What about upgrades from PE to Upper Class? Might that be a sweet spot like Air France’s 15K miles? I bought the $640 PE fare a while back NYC LON and was frustrated that I couldn’t use my SkyMiles to upgrade to Upper Class.

  7. If Delta One is a step up from this product, leave it alone! I flew Upper Class from LHR to IAD recently, and it was bad. Seats were narrow, the cabin was packed and the IFE didn’t work. If I had to do it over, I would have flown Prem Econ. I don’t understand why Virgin Atlantic can’t do better…

  8. I purchased VS Premium Economy (G class) LAX-LHR-LAX. The upgrade is 20k SkyMiles each way. Of course nothing available. Is there any way to monitor for upgrade space via expert flyer or another service?

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