In general Virgin Atlantic Flying Club isn’t my favorite loyalty program. I find that on a per mile basis their miles are among the least valuable out there. They were made even less valuable late last year when they announced a program devaluation. However, like most programs, there are some sweet spots.
In this post I wanted to write about redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles on Delta, given that this value has been improved recently, in a way. But first, let me cover a couple of basics:
The best use of Virgin Atlantic miles is for travel on ANA
The single best use of Virgin Atlantic miles is for travel in ANA first & business class. Here’s their current pricing for travel on ANA, which is phenomenal, among the best out there:
|Distance Of Return Journey||Economy Class||Business Class||First Class|
So if you have Virgin Atlantic miles and want to go to Asia, this is how I’d choose to redeem them.
Virgin Atlantic miles are easy to rack up
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is transfer partners with all four major transferable points currencies, including Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest.
On top of that, we’ve sometimes seen transfer bonuses on points transfers to Virgin Atlantic. For example, there was a 30% transfer bonus from Amex Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club in May.
Lastly, keep in mind that Virgin Atlantic has a co-branded credit card that can be pretty lucrative, as it offers a sign-up bonus of up to 90,000 miles.
You can now redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for travel on Delta online
Maybe this has been around for a while and I just haven’t noticed it, but you can now redeem Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles for travel on Delta directly through virginatlantic.com.
Here’s why that matters. Delta doesn’t publish award charts, and at this point doesn’t even have consistent saver level pricing. They use weird married segment logic for many itineraries, so it’s tough to keep track of their pricing, and in turn, it’s tough to know when a partner airline will have access to Delta award availability.
You can now search Delta award availability on Virgin Atlantic’s website, and in many cases this is an exceptional value. When you do an award search on Virgin Atlantic’s website, Delta options should automatically show up if they’re available.
Do note that in the menu at the top where you enter the origin and destination, many places won’t auto-populate. In other words, when I enter Seattle as the origin, it won’t let me enter “Shanghai” or “PVG” as the destination. When that’s the case, click the “pin” next to the destination, and select the destination by choosing the country, city, etc., and then it will work.
The pricing on Virgin Atlantic’s website sometimes doesn’t make sense. Sometimes it’s logical and consistent, other times there’s bizarre variable pricing, etc. Sometimes the one-way pricing makes sense but the roundtrip pricing doesn’t.
So don’t expect to be able to make full sense of this, though that doesn’t mean that there isn’t value in this.
Can redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles on Delta be a good deal?
Redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles on Delta can be an excellent deal, especially in comparison to redeeming Delta SkyMiles. Furthermore, keep in mind that historically we’ve seen transfer bonuses from Amex Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic, so for the below prices consider the benefit of taking advantage of one of those bonuses in conjunction with booking awards.
For example, Virgin Atlantic charges 50,000 miles for a one-way New York to London award in business class, while Delta charges 70,000 miles:
You can fly one-way from Los Angeles to Shanghai for 60,000 miles, while Delta would charge 80,000 miles for the same award:
You can fly from Los Angeles to Sydney for 75,000 miles, while Delta would charge 95,000 miles for the same award:
Here’s an award chart comparing redemption rates for travel on Delta between SkyMiles and Flying Club (like I said, there’s some variability, so this pricing won’t be consistent):
|Roundtrip to/from Continental USA and:||Economy||Business/First|
|Caribbean, Mexico & Central America||35,000|
Delta: 120,000-150,000 (Delta considers these three separate zones)
Award prices increasing 9/2017
|Africa, Middle East & Asia||80,000|
Also note that there are hefty fuel surcharges for travel on Delta to Europe, but only if flying roundtrip or originating in Europe. If you book a one-way from the US to Europe, there are no fuel surcharges. Other regions shouldn’t have fuel surcharges either.
So if you were to book a one-way from New York to London you’d pay 50,000 miles. If you were to transfer those points over from Amex during a 30% transfer bonus, that means you’d only need 39,000 Membership Rewards points, which is a great value.
I can’t guarantee these prices will remain the same forever, but that’s what it looks like as of now.
While I still think redeeming Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles for travel on ANA is the best value, in many cases redeeming Flying Club miles on Delta can be a great deal as well, especially in conjunction with a transfer bonus. The ability to book these awards online makes the whole process more transparent, and also saves time. I could see myself using this redemption opportunity in the future.
Has anyone redeemed Virgin Atlantic miles on Delta? What was your experience like?