Often you’ll find that the best options for redeeming points on a particular airline are through the frequent flyer program of a partner airline. Actually, I’d argue that’s the case more often than not, and it’s where we see many of the best award sweet spots.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is a program with a few great partner redemption opportunities. While my favorite use of Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points is for travel on All Nippon Airways, another potentially great use is for redemptions on Delta. While this opportunity isn’t quite as lucrative as it was back in the day, there’s still value to be had.
In this post I wanted to take a closer look at the current state of this opportunity. How many Virgin Atlantic points do you need, how do you find award availability, etc.?
Redeem Flying Club points for travel on Delta
In many cases Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has lower redemption rates than Delta SkyMiles for travel on Delta, assuming there’s saver level award availability. For example, in some situation Virgin Atlantic might just be charging 50,000 points, while Delta charges over 200,000 points. Yes, the difference can be that significant.
On top of that, there are some other benefits to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club:
- Virgin Atlantic points are easier to come by, since the program partners with Amex, Capital One, Chase, and Citi, while Delta SkyMiles only partners with Amex
- Virgin Atlantic points can often be acquired with a transfer bonus, while we almost never see a transfer bonus from Amex to Delta
With that out of the way, let’s look at the details of this opportunity.
How many Virgin Atlantic points do you need for travel on Delta?
When redeeming Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points for travel on Delta, awards fall into one of two categories:
- There’s region based award pricing between the United States and Europe
- There’s distance based award pricing for travel within and between all other regions
Here are Virgin Atlantic Flying Club one-way redemption rates for travel on Delta between the United States and United Kingdom:
- 15,000-30,000 Flying Club points in Main Cabin (economy class)
- 47,500-77,500 Flying Club points in Delta One (business class)
Here are Virgin Atlantic Flying Club one-way redemption rates for travel on Delta between the United States and Europe (with the exception of the UK):
- 30,000 Flying Club points in Main Cabin (economy class)
- 50,000 Flying Club points in Delta One (business class)
All Virgin Atlantic Flying Club awards on Delta that aren’t between the United States and Europe are charged based on the following one-way distance based award chart:
Does Flying Club have surcharges when redeeming on Delta?
Flying Club has steep carrier imposed surcharges (often referred to as fuel surcharges) when redeeming on Virgin Atlantic, but what about when redeeming on Delta?
- There are fuel surcharges for travel on Delta between the US and UK
- There are fuel surcharges for travel on Delta between Europe and the US when originating in Europe
- There aren’t fuel surcharges for travel on Delta between the US and Europe (with the exception of the UK) when originating in the US
- There aren’t fuel surcharges for travel on Delta between or within any other regions
So you don’t have to worry about surcharges for all non-European travel, and also don’t have to worry about them for US to Europe travel, with the exception of the UK.
How to book Delta awards through Flying Club
You can search and book Delta awards directly on Virgin Atlantic’s website. Virgin Atlantic’s website interface works pretty similarly to Delta’s, so it will be a familiar experience if you’re used to searching SkyMiles award space.
When you go to Virgin Atlantic’s website, just search award availability on Delta the same way you would search availability on Virgin Atlantic, and if something is available it will automatically show up. Virgin Atlantic’s website displays award availability on Virgin Atlantic, Delta, Air France, and KLM, so at times it can be hard to differentiate between those options when looking at the calendar feature.
Let’s look at how this works in practice, and use a New York to Amsterdam ticket as an example. Just select the date, the number of passengers, then the “Points” option, then “Upper Class” for the fare option, and then “Show flexible dates,” so you get the calendar view.
The next page will return a calendar view, and you can view a week of availability at a time. Based on the type of award I’m searching, I know that any availability for 50,000 points and $6 in taxes & fees would be on Delta (the other award options with higher surcharges would be for travel on other airlines).
Once you select the date you’ll see the flight option.
Note that you may very well search award availability and get a message saying “Sorry, no reward flights are available for your search.” Unfortunately that’s not a glitch, there are just long periods of time with no award availability.
I can’t emphasize enough the quirkiness of Virgin Atlantic’s award space on Delta. The sweet spot here is obviously awards from the United States to Europe (except the UK) in business class. Sometimes you can search months of availability at a time without finding a single award seat, while at other points you may find decent award availability.
When you do find space, this pricing can be extremely lucrative. For example, an award that costs 50,000 Virgin Atlantic points may cost 215,000 Delta SkyMiles.
Is it worth redeeming Virgin Atlantic points on Delta?
The way I view it, the best use of Virgin Atlantic points on Delta is for travel in business class to Europe (with the exception of the UK). You’ll pay just 50,000 points for business class one-way, and there are no fuel surcharges. This is an amazing value, it’s just a function of finding award availability.
If you can find availability, it’s a heck of a deal, though generally I don’t consider this to be among the best “sweet spot” awards out there, simply because of how sporadic award availability is.
Arguably the next best value when redeeming Virgin Atlantic points on Delta is for short haul travel based on the distance-based award chart.
For example, for 7,500 points you could book a one-way economy award for a flight of under 500 miles, like Tampa to Atlanta.
Or for 8,500 points you could book a one-way economy award for a flight of 501-1,000 miles, like Los Angeles to Seattle.
Redeeming 15,000 points for a one-way economy award for flights of 2,001-3,000 miles could be a good deal as well, like Los Angeles to Kona.
Of course you’ll always want to compare these to revenue tickets, since in some cases these flights might not cost all that much when paying cash.
In many cases the first class pricing will also be advantageous compared to booking through Delta SkyMiles. For example, the above Tampa to Atlanta flight that costs 17,500 Virgin Atlantic points in first class would cost 40,000 SkyMiles if booking with Delta.
How to earn Virgin Atlantic points
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is transfer partners with all major transferable points currencies, including Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou. Therefore these are among the easiest points for consumers to earn.
Historically we’ve often also seen transfer bonuses from these currencies to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, so that’s something to keep an eye on, as it will stretch your points even further.
Redeeming Virgin Atlantic points for travel on Delta can be a good value. This is especially true for business class between the US and Europe (with the exception of the UK), where you can fly for 50,000 points one-way without fuel surcharges. On top of that, short haul redemptions on Delta can be a good deal, in both economy and first class.
The catch is the highly inconsistent award availability Delta has across the Atlantic in business class, as sometimes Virgin Atlantic will have access to a fair amount of Delta award space, while in other cases you’ll find no availability for months.
Have you ever redeemed Virgin Atlantic points for travel on Delta? If so, what was your experience like?