You Can Now Redeem Delta Miles For Premium Economy… But It’s Expensive

Filed Under: Awards, Delta

Even though US airlines have long had partner airlines that offer premium economy cabins, historically they haven’t allowed miles to be redeemed for that cabin. I suspect it’s because the US airlinesĀ didn’t have a premium economy product of their own, so it was easier to just not offer that redemption option.

Well, American and Delta are both in the process of adding a true premium economy product to their longhaul flights (which will be different than the extra legroom economy cabins they currently offer), so soon enough we should see new award and upgrade policies for getting into these cabins. It looks like we already have a clue of what this pricing will be like.

Delta is now letting you redeem SkyMiles for travel in Virgin Atlantic premium economy.

Per the Delta SkyMiles News & Updates page:

Effective November 28, 2016, SkyMiles Members can now use miles at to book Virgin Atlantic’s Premium Economy cabin on flights from the United States to the United Kingdom. Bookings over the phone through Delta Reservations will be available December 1, 2016. Features of Virgin Atlantic’s Premium Economy cabin include:

  • Roomy leather seating with in-seat power so you can stay connected
  • Priority Boarding and a dedicated check-in
  • An upgraded dining experience including access to Virgin Atlantic’s Wander Wall snack gallery1
  • A Premium Economy amenity kit on night flights

Delta seems to be charging 55,000 miles for one-way transatlantic premium economy.


Delta’s saver rates for transatlantic flights are as follows:

  • Economy: 30,000 miles
  • Premium Economy: 55,000 miles
  • Business Class: 70,000 miles

Pricing premium economy much closer to business class than economy? Ouch! I think it’s safe to say that Delta will price their own premium economy similarly, once it becomes bookable.


As a point of comparison, if redeeming through Virgin Atlantic’s own newly devalued program, you’d pay the following number of miles one-way between the Northeast and London (plus taxes and carrier imposed surcharges):

  • Economy: 10,000 miles
  • Premium Economy: 17,500 miles
  • Business Class: 47,500 miles

Just to add a further data point, Air Canada’s Aeroplan program has the following redemption rates for travel between North America and Europe:

  • Economy: 30,000 miles
  • Premium Economy: 37,500 miles
  • Business Class: 55,000 miles

As you can see, Delta has among the most aggressive award pricing for premium economy, as they’re pricing it much closer to business class than economy when redeeming miles. Virtually all programs price premium economy closer to economy than business class, so this is a real shame.

Virgin-Atlantic-Clubhouse-London - 72

Bottom line

On one hand it’s nice that it’s now possible to redeem SkyMiles for premium economy. More options are always a good thing. However, 55,000 miles for one-way transatlantic premium economy has to be among the most aggressive pricing out there for a non-business class product.

(Tip of the hat to Renes Points)

  1. Given that Aeroplan charges fuel surcharges on the only airline that you can redeem premium economy, the gap isn’t that far apart.

    38k plus 300 USD isn’t far off from 55k plus 20 USD

  2. Which means if AA copies and United copies we will see a devalue again when they slot PE into their award charts. Not good

  3. @Jeff – “Which means if AA copies and United”

    “Which means WHEN United copies followed by American…”

    Fixed it for ya’! šŸ™‚

  4. What’s sad is I earned a lot of these frequent flyer miles when transatlantic business class awards were 100K miles ROUND TRIP!

  5. I flew premium economy on Virgin two weeks ago; Los Angeles-London, London-Detroit.

    The outbound was on a gorgeous 787 with excellent staff. Best of all was the menu dining and high-quality booze in the Virgin lounge before the flight. I compared it to flying domestic-style first-class on a flight to Hawaii. You can sleep decent if you had enough to drink and bring aboard your own pillow and blanket.

    The return was on an older A330. Unfortunately, the return in premium economy is significantly less, umm, premium. In fact, the catering out of Los Angeles was, to my surprise, better than London. My food was completely cold, if not almost semi-frozen. Service was much less attendant — it was very difficult getting drink refills on alcohol. Also, the A330 doesn’t have wireless internet.

    Still, both experiences were better than economy. Especially on a paid airfare of $1,200. What was most frustrating, however, is the difficulty in booking seats and so forth when flying Virgin on a Delta ticket.

  6. I’m on Velocity, so could Delta frequent flyers use their points to redeem on Virgin flights instead and would that be cheaper?

  7. For Virgin Atlantic, I am not sure where you are getting your mile prices from? I price out Newark to London and RT in Economy is 35k (or 17.5k one way) and 55K (27.5K one way) in premium economy. Maybe I am not going northeast enough? But what kills Virgin Atlantic’s redemption for Premium Economy is the $810 you pay in taxes, round trip. That’s insane. Same ticket on Delta would yes be 110K miles but only 255 in taxes. So the difference in taxes is $555, which means for 55,000 extra Delta miles (or about 1 point per dollar), compared to Virgin Atlantic, is it worth just paying Delta miles to cover the taxes or paying the taxes out of pocket. While I don’t value Delta miles quite as low as a point per dollar, I think it’s a decent enough redemption for Delta. IMO.

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