Often times, you will find that the best options to redeem miles with a particular airline are through a partner airline’s frequent flyer program. In fact, I’d say it mostly does, and this is where we see many of the best sweet spots on the award charts.
The Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is a program with some great partner redemption options. While my favorite use of Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles is to travel on All Nippon Airways, my second favorite use has historically been to travel on Delta.
Well, unfortunately, the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has begun the year 2021 with the devaluation of Delta Award redemptions. In this post I wanted to take a closer look at the current status of these premiums. Are there still cases where Flying Club redemptions are good business with Delta, right …?
Redeem Flying Club miles to travel with Delta
In many cases, the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has lower redemption rates than Delta SkyMiles when traveling with Delta. Unfortunately, after the recent devaluation, that’s no longer the whole line, but there are still some real sweet spots.
In addition, the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club offers a few other advantages:
- Virgin Atlantic miles are easier to obtain as the program works with Amex, Chase and Citi while Delta SkyMiles works only with Amex
- Virgin Atlantic miles can often be earned with a transfer bonus, while we almost never see a transfer bonus from Amex to Delta
Let’s take a look at the current status of the repayment rates.
Spending Virgin Atlantic Miles in the Delta can be good business
How many Virgin Atlantic Miles do you need to travel with Delta?
When redeeming Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles to travel on Delta, awards fall into one of two categories:
- There are regional award prices between the US and Europe
- There are distance-based award prices for travel within and between all other regions
Here are the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club’s one-way redemption rates for travel with Delta between the US and the UK:
Here are the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club’s one-way redemption rates for Delta travel between the US and Europe (excluding the UK):
- 30,000 Flying Club miles in the main cabin (Economy Class)
- 50,000 Flying Club Miles in Delta One (Business Class)
All Virgin Atlantic Flying Club awards on Delta that are not between the US and Europe are calculated based on the following one-way distance award table:
Does the Flying Club have surcharges when redeeming them at Delta?
The Flying Club has imposed high airline fees (often referred to as fuel surcharges) when redeeming on Virgin Atlantic. However, what about redeeming on Delta?
- Fuel surcharges apply when traveling with Delta between the US and the UK
- For trips with Delta between Europe and the USA originating in Europe, fuel surcharges apply
- There are no fuel surcharges for trips with Delta between the USA and Europe (with the exception of Great Britain) originating in the USA
- There are no fuel surcharges for trips with Delta between or within other regions
So you don’t have to worry about surcharges for all non-European trips, nor do you have to worry about them for trips from the USA to Europe, with the exception of Great Britain.
Some Delta redemptions are chargeable and others are not
How to book Delta Awards through the Flying Club
You can find and book Delta Awards directly on the Virgin Atlantic website. Virgin Atlantic’s website interface works much like Delta’s. If you are used to browsing SkyMiles award areas, this is a familiar experience.
When you visit the Virgin Atlantic website, you are looking for availability of awards in Delta as well as availability in Virgin Atlantic. If something is available it will be shown automatically.
Take a ticket from Atlanta to Seoul Incheon as an example (although it’s poor value these days). Simply select the date, the number of passengers, then the “Points” option and then “Upper Class” for the fare option.
A calendar view is returned on the next page and you can view availability a week or a month at a time.
Once you have selected the date, the flight option will appear.
Note that not all cities are automatically displayed when you enter the airport code or name. In these situations, click the box with the code that does not appear, then select the Full Airport List option.
On the next page you can choose your destination by country or alphabetically if you prefer.
Is it worth redeeming Virgin Atlantic Miles in the Delta?
Unfortunately, spending Virgin Atlantic miles on Delta is no longer the value it used to be. However, there are still a few circumstances in which this might make sense.
In my view, the best use of Virgin Atlantic miles on Delta is to travel in business class to Europe (excluding the UK). You only pay 50,000 miles for a one-way Business Class journey, and there are no fuel surcharges.
Delta Business Class returns to Europe can still make sense
The next best value these days is for short-haul travel based on the new distance-based award table.
For example, for 7,500 miles you can book a one-way economy award on a flight of less than 500 miles such as Tampa to Atlanta.
Or for 8,500 miles you can book a one-way economy award for a 501-1,000 mile flight like Los Angeles to Seattle.
Redeeming 15,000 miles for a one-way economy award on flights between 2,001 and 3,000 miles could also be good business, like Los Angeles to Kona.
Of course, you’ll always want to compare these to sales tickets, as in some cases these flights may not cost that much if paid in cash.
Short haul withdrawals could also be a good value
How to earn Virgin Atlantic Miles
The Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou and Marriott Bonvoy. So there are a few ways to earn these points.
In the past, we’ve also seen transfer bonuses from Amex and Citi to Virgin Atlantic with a certain frequency, which is an even better way to keep building your points.
Redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles to travel on Delta can be good value. This is especially true in Business Class between the US and Europe (excluding the UK), which allows you to fly 50,000 miles one way with no fuel surcharge. Additionally, short haul take-backs can be very good business for Delta in business.
Unfortunately, with the devaluation of the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club in early 2021, all other sweet spots will be dead. Therefore, it no longer makes sense to redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for Delta Business Class to Africa, Asia, South America, etc.
Do you still see value in redeeming Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles to travel with Delta, or has it all gone with the devaluation?