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I’ve been doing miles & points stuff for a very long time, so I’m always super excited when out of nowhere I learn of a new points redemption opportunity I didn’t previously know of. The thing is, years ago this particular redemption wouldn’t have been that “amazing,” but due to a combination of circumstances, I think this is pretty useful now.
Most airlines operate a premium product between New York and Los Angeles/San Francisco. However, it’s a shockingly tough market in which to redeem miles:
- American AAdvantage makes very little saver level award space available in first & business class
- United MileagePlus makes very little saver level award space available in business class
- Delta doesn’t have a traditional award chart with saver levels, but their lowest nonstop one-way redemption cost in the market is 45,000 miles; 90,000 miles roundtrip for a transcon isn’t exactly a bargain, though
- In the past Alaska Mileage Plan miles were a great option for Virgin America first class, though Virgin America doesn’t have flat beds, and the availability isn’t as good as it once was
Well, as it turns out there’s a fantastic way to book a flat bed business class seat between New York and Los Angeles/San Francisco for just 18,000 Amex Membership Rewards points one-way.
Earlier I posted about the incredible value of redeeming Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles for travel between the US and Europe. There are some restrictions associated with these redemptions, but in many cases you can redeem 50,000 Flying Club miles for travel between the US and Europe on Delta.
Add in the 30% transfer bonus from Amex Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, and we’re talking about paying ~39,000 Membership Rewards points one-way.
That’s not the only great deal available for travel on Delta, though.
Virgin Atlantic has wide open Delta One availability between New York and Los Angeles/San Francisco for just 22,500 Flying Club miles one-way. When you factor in the 30% transfer bonus, that’s just 18,000 Amex Membership Rewards points each way.
All the seats that are bookable for 45,000 SkyMiles through Delta can also be booked for 22,500 miles directly through Virgin Atlantic’s website. When you search for availability on Virgin Atlantic’s website, enter the origin as you usually would. Then for the destination, select the little “pin” to the right of your destination box and then select the country, state, and city. Otherwise the space may not show up correctly.
Award availability is really, really, really good, whether you’re booking close to departure or in advance, or whether you’re booking just for yourself or the whole family (I see many flights with eight business class award seats each). For example, here’s availability for a five week period next summer:
The dates that have availability don’t just have one flight with availability, but often a handful.
This is a fantastic redemption value. Membership Rewards points transfer to Virgin Atlantic in 1-2 days at most (often faster), and the 30% bonus is hard coded into the ratio, so those bonus points should post when the normal ones do.
If you’re looking to make some transcon premium cabin bookings, this is hands down the way to go. What a deal, especially given how much availability there is.