UGH: Delta Adds Fuel Surcharges To All Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Redemptions

Filed Under: Awards, Delta

Oh c’mon, Delta! It looks like Delta has just started adding carrier imposed surcharges to all Virgin Atlantic Upper Class redemptions. Upper Class is the term for Virgin Atlantic’s business class product, which I quite like (in particular, I love their Clubhouse lounges). This comes just weeks after Delta’s latest unannounced partner award devaluation, where we saw the cost of business class awards on most partner airlines increase.

Currently Delta imposes these surcharges for redemptions on some of their partner airlines, and for awards originating in Europe, regardless of which partner you redeem on.

So up until now you’d pay these surcharges for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class redemptions originating in Europe, but not for those originating in other regions. This has been a nice feature of SkyMiles, given that most of Virgin Atlantic’s partners imposed these surcharges when redeeming on Virgin Atlantic. However, given the joint venture between Delta and Virgin Atlantic, it made sense that there would be metal neutrality.

Well, if you search now, you’ll see that a one-way Virgin Atlantic Upper Class award ticket from New York to London will cost you $501.60, compared to the same route on Delta costing just $5.60. So that’s a $495 carrier imposed surcharges and that doesn’t even account for the fact that a partner transatlantic business class redemption costs 15,000 more miles one-way than the same ticket on Delta.

This doesn’t impact economy or premium economy redemptions on Virgin Atlantic, as you’ll see below, in a screenshot of award prices between Boston and London.

This isn’t just limited to Virgin Atlantic flights originating in North America. Even Virgin Atlantic awards originating outside of North America and Europe now have carrier imposed surcharges when redeeming in Upper Class.

Bottom line

For a while I was starting to feel like the SkyMiles program was getting better, at least as a comparative matter, given how much American AAdvantage has been devalued over the past couple of years. However, this is just terrible. First Delta greatly increased award costs on partner airlines in business class several weeks back, and now they’re adding nasty fuel surcharges to Virgin Atlantic Upper Class redemptions. Sad!

(Tip of the hat to @kabirobhan)

  1. Where do people credit their Delta flights now that Alaska isn’t a partner? I would never credit to Delta given their terrible approach to devaluing their Pesos without notice. I have a biz class trip on Delta at the end of June.

    Thinking Flying Blue is the best option.

  2. Like everything else, they are doing this simply BECAUSE THEY CAN. They know that the great majority of credit card point collectors will not keep up with the program to realize how little value remains in it.

    Over and over, I hear friends say that they are “not really frequent flyers” but still collect miles with their credit card since they know that “someday” they will earn enough miles for a “free” ticket. They have no idea what “free” tickets cost, yet they use and renew these credit cards for years.

    So Delta has every reason to keep the redemptions side of SkyMiles complex and obfuscated–regularly moving the targets behind the scenes and keeping the treadmill running.

  3. @Kory – I generally credit my Delta flights to Flying Blue, I feel like AF is very underrated. Very good food, warmer/friendlier cabin service than BA (in my experience) and a much better business class product than the other two of the European big three (BA and Lufthansa). And I find CDG a whole lot nicer than LHR for a variety of reasons. And Flying Blue has good redemption options and the option to top off an account with all three of the major flexible credit card points (Amex, Citi and Chase). To me Flying Blue points are far more valuable than Skypesos.

  4. @Kory, Korean Airline is not bad either if you don’t mind the hassle when redeeming.

  5. Back in 2014 I redeemed 120,000 SkyPesos to fly LAX-BNE-DPS-SYD-LAX in Business/Z, all on Virgin Australia metal. No surcharges, just a $20 booking fee. Shocking to see how quickly times have changed for the worse.

    @Tom – good points all, what do you suggest people do?

  6. “No Notice” Delta strikes again. I can cross IAD-LHR on VS off my preferred list of routes. Shame! Delta takes one step forward and two steps back. Flying Blue space appears to have disappeared and even if it reappeared I bet it will have the Flying Blue surcharges attached to it.

  7. I’m flying round trip SEA-LHR on the new VS flight in Upper Class on SkyPesos this August. Was looking forward to that being a regular thing, but guess I’ll have to enjoy this one time and that’s it.

    Given how much Delta is trying to win over Seattle flyers, this is surprising since they just yielded the SEA-LHR route to VS. There were no furl surcharges while it was a DL flight.

  8. Isn’t this actually required of airlines departing LHR because of British government fuel taxes?

  9. @Tom May 28, 2017 at 12:46 pm – spot on 100% correct and if I were in their position I would do the same thing until they reach parity with fixed value fixed redemption – in such a commoditized business it’s the way to go.

    Pure cash back looks better and better.

  10. @FNT – no, the UK Air Passenger Duty is only fit flights departing from the UK and is around £150, so doesn’t account for the majority of this cost.

    Of course for those of us in the UK who have limited Delta earning options but slightly better Virgin Atlantic earning potential this will hopefully slightly improve availability if it shifts more Delta redemptions onto their metal…

  11. If you ignored the last 10 warnings here it is for you again:

    Earning SkyMiles is for suckers.

  12. While you and Ford are arguing over if Krug is better than Dom while flying with money earned on AMEX Delta credit card referrals you have the nerve to post this…your Number 1 Credit Card on Top Ten Credit Card referrals is Delta Gold…gold for you…It’s good you don’t have children, they never have to hear “do as I say, not as I do”.

    Will you ever take a stand and say I cannot pimp Delta Credit cards.

  13. @Idahost. I love Ricadonna Spumante only $14 a bottle here in Oz. Every first class should serve it.

  14. I think it’s reached the point where all bloggers need to take down their links to Delta cards.

  15. In terms of an outrage, I concur. However, for context, let’s remember that Virgin Atlantic has imposed a MUCH HIGHER fuel surcharge on its own award tickets for many years.

    I can recall checking the award fare from the East Coast of the United States to London (this was before Delta bought its 49% minority stake) and it included more than $1,000 in fuel charges. The seat was free but the means of locomotion could not be waved at any point level.

    While I respect Sir Richard Branson for his business acumen and dedication to the battle against climate change (yes, that’s ironic for a man who founded an airline, I know), we really should think of him as a magician for he truly has shown us his ability to wring blood from a stone.

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