Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is a useful frequent flyer program, especially with the airline now being in the SkyTeam alliance. Not only does Flying Club have useful niche redemption rates on airlines like All Nippon Airways and Air New Zealand, but the program also allows members to redeem points on all SkyTeam carriers.
Unfortunately Flying Club is about to devalue redemption rates for travel on Delta (thanks to reader Johan for flagging this).
In this post:
How Flying Club redemption rates on Delta are changing
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club’s redemptions on Delta aren’t exactly straightforward in terms of pricing, as there are three separate award charts:
- There’s an award chart for travel between the United States and United Kingdom
- There’s an award chart for travel between the United States and Europe, excluding the United Kingdom
- There’s a distance based award chart for travel in all other regions
Flying Club isn’t changing award pricing between the United States and United Kingdom, which has both standard and peak pricing, and pricing based on the part of the United States you’re traveling to. These redemptions have carrier imposed surcharges in both directions.
Flying Club also isn’t changing award pricing between the United States and the rest of Europe, which continues to have fixed pricing regardless of distance flown. These redemptions have carrier imposed surcharges when originating in Europe, but not when originating in the United States.
What Flying Club is updating is the distance based award chart that applies in all other regions. Pricing is changing for award flights taken as of January 1, 2024. Specifically, below you can find the current award chart, for flights through December 31, 2023.
Below you can find the new award chart, for flights as of January 1, 2024.
Here are the biggest changes:
- Shorter Delta first class and Delta One flights are increasing in cost considerably, while longer Delta One flights aren’t getting more expensive (though are already steeply priced)
- We’re seeing huge hikes to economy award costs on Delta, ranging from 501-1,000 mile flights going up in cost from 8,500 to 11,000 points, to 6,001+ mile flights going up in cost from 45,000 points to 65,500 points
As you can see, we’re not seeing any price drops here. All award costs are either staying the same or increasing in cost.
I’m guessing that Delta is behind these changes
There are ultimately lots of mileage arbitrage opportunities out there, where you’ll get better value earning or redeeming miles with a partner program, rather than directly with the program of the airline you’re traveling with.
Over time we’ve seen many opportunities like these devalued, though not across the board. In the case of Delta and Virgin Atlantic, I’m not surprised to see this change:
- Delta owns a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic, the two airlines have a joint venture, and Delta is also known to be a rather controlling partner
- Delta is determined to turn SkyMiles into as much of a revenue based program as possible, and that includes eliminating outsized value for premium cabin redemptions, and for any partner arbitrage opportunities
- I suspect Delta was seeing an uptick in award redemptions through Flying Club, and the airline wanted those redemptions to instead be made directly through Delta SkyMiles
There are still some situations where redemptions through Flying Club on Delta represent a good deal. That’s especially true when you consider that Virgin Atlantic partners with all major transferable points currencies, and we often see transfer bonuses.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is devaluing Delta awards significantly for travel as of January 1, 2024. While the cost of awards between the United States and Europe is staying the same, we’re seeing big changes to the distance based award chart that applies in all other regions.
Award costs are increasing in both economy and in premium cabins, and in some cases the increases are substantial. It’s disappointing to see these changes, though we had to assume that Delta was going to eventually go after any sort of arbitrage opportunity.
What do you make of these Virgin Atlantic Flying Club changes?