Often you’ll find that the best options for redeeming miles are using partner award charts. In other words, the airlines you often want to fly aren’t the airlines with which you want to collect miles, and vice versa.
There are tons of amazing arbitrage opportunities with miles, and often these are the best sweet spots you’ll find.
Last week I wrote about the incredible value of redeeming Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles for travel on All Nippon Airways, and in this post I wanted to focus on my other favorite use of Virgin Atlantic miles, which is for redemptions in Delta business class.
How to earn Virgin Atlantic miles
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Marriott Bonvoy. On top of that, we see transfer bonuses from Amex and Citi to Virgin Atlantic every once in a while, which makes these miles even easier to come by.
For example, through July 1, 2019, the US Amex Membership Rewards program is offering a 30% bonus when you transfer points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
So that means you’re getting 1,300 Flying Club miles for every 1,000 Amex points, which even further increases the value of these redemptions.
Why redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles on Delta is a good deal
Simply put, in almost all cases Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has lower redemption rates on Delta than Delta SkyMiles does, especially for travel in business class. This doesn’t even factor in that:
- Virgin Atlantic miles are easier to come by, since they partner with Amex, Chase, and Citi, while Delta SkyMiles only partners with Amex
- Virgin Atlantic miles can often be acquired with a transfer bonus, while we almost never see a transfer bonus from Amex to Delta
Virgin Atlantic redemption rates on Delta
Enough talk, let’s just get right into the details.
Virgin Atlantic typically charges just 50,000 miles for one-way business class travel to Europe on Delta.
A roundtrip will cost you just 100,000 miles (so double of the one-way cost).
Want to go to Asia? That’ll cost you just 60,000 miles one-way in business class.
Similar to the above, a roundtrip costs you double as many miles.
In the rare circumstance that you can find award space on Delta’s ultra long haul flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg (there are often two seats available right as the schedule opens), that is also bookable for just 60,000 miles one-way in business class, which is spectacular.
Virgin Atlantic surcharges on Delta tickets
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club doesn’t add carrier imposed surcharges to Delta award tickets, with two exceptions.
First of all, you’re stuck paying carrier imposed surcharges if you’re traveling to & from the UK. In that case you’ll pay different mileage amounts, and also different surcharges, which align with how much they’d charge when flying Virgin Atlantic.
Similarly, you’re on the hook for the surcharges if you’re booking a ticket originating anywhere in Europe (not just the UK) to the US.
So to put this in the form of an example:
- If you book a one-way ticket from Los Angeles to Paris there are no surcharges
- If you book a roundtrip ticket from Los Angeles to Paris there are no surcharges
- If you book a one-way ticket from Paris to Los Angeles there are surcharges
- If you book a roundtrip ticket from Paris to Los Angeles there are surcharges
How to search & book Delta tickets on Virgin Atlantic’s website
I used to recommend going to Delta’s website to search award availability, and then going to Virgin Atlantic’s website to actually book. However, since Delta no longer publishes award costs, I don’t recommend that anymore.
There’s simply no easy way to figure out “saver” pricing anymore, which is generally what’s needed for Virgin Atlantic to have access to these seats (though in some cases they have access to other space as well).
Personally I recommend just searching directly through Virgin Atlantic’s website. Their website interface works similarly to Delta’s, so it’s a pretty easy shopping experience.
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.
Let’s use an Atlanta to Shanghai ticket as an example. Just select the date, the number of passengers, then the “Miles” option, and then “Upper Class” for the fare option.
Note that not all cities will automatically show up when you enter the airport code or name. In those situations, click on the box with the code that isn’t coming up, and then select the “Full Airport List” option.
On the next page you’ll be able to select your destination by country, or alphabetically if you prefer.
Once you have your search results, you’ll also see there’s an option to see a five week calendar of availability, which is a great option if you want to search availability over a long period (otherwise it just shows you a one week calendar).
Then on the results page you can select the “Direct only” option if you only want to see nonstop flights.
Then you’ll see a calendar with the results, and can book whatever you’d like.
The next page will show all the flight details.
Redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles on Delta is an exceptional value. Redeeming just 50,000 miles for one-way business class to Europe, or 60,000 miles for one-way business class to Asia, is a greatt deal.
This is especially true if you can take advantage of the 30% Amex transfer bonus, in which case you’re paying just 39,000 or 47,000 Amex points, respectively. When you add in that there are no surcharges, that’s really quite tough to beat.
Please take advantage of these great opportunities if you can, especially if you can book a flight in the Delta One Suite!
Have you redeemed Virgin Atlantic miles on Delta, or do you plan on doing so?