Update: Virgin Atlantic Backtracks On Delta Award Surcharges (For Now)

This is just an update to a previous post (the original post is below). It looks like Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has undone this change, and they’re no longer imposing surcharges on Delta award tickets, with the exception of awards originating in Europe, as well as any awards from the US to the UK (but not to the rest of Europe).

I can’t guarantee this will last forever, but for the time being this continues to be a great use of Virgin Atlantic miles, in particular for travel between the US and Asia, and for travel from the US to Europe (other than the UK). The original post can be found below.


Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is a frequent flyer program with some phenomenal niche partner redemptions. I don’t value Flying Club miles that highly since there are only a few good uses of these miles. The way I see it, the two best uses of Flying Club miles are for redemptions in ANA first and business class to Japan, and for select redemptions on Delta.


Redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles for ANA first class is a great deal

The reason I say Flying Club miles are good for “select” redemptions on Delta is because they largely have lower redemption rates than Delta SkyMiles has directly, and historically the don’t add carrier imposed surcharges to most Delta awards. The exceptions are any Delta awards to London (and not the rest of Europe), and any Delta awards from Europe.

This means that you could redeem Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles without surcharges for travel on Delta to or from Asia, and also from the US to Europe (except London).


Redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles on Delta has largely been a good value

Well, at least that was the case prior to today. It looks like Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is now imposing fuel surcharges on virtually all international Delta awards. More accurately, they’re passing on whatever surcharges Delta would impose on a revenue ticket. I guess this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

Over time these types of arbitrage opportunities get shut down, and in this particular instance Delta was involved, which is how you know it’s definitely happening.

For example, previously a Delta business class award from Seattle to Beijing cost 60,000 miles plus $5.60 in taxes and fees, while the taxes and fees are now $183.90.

An economy award from Detroit to Paris used to cost 30,000 miles plus $5.60 in taxes and fees, and now costs $193.90 in taxes and fees.

A business class award from Detroit to Paris used to cost 50,000 miles plus $5.60 in taxes and fees, and now costs $526.90 in taxes and fees. OUCH!

Bottom line

Unfortunately Flying Club adding surcharges to most Delta redemptions takes away one of just a limited number of great uses of Flying Club miles

There are still instances where this could represent a good deal, especially when you consider that Virgin Atlantic is transfer partners with all major transferable points currencies, and we even often see transfer bonuses.

Surcharges also aren’t that bad on flights to Asia, so I could still see this being a good use for Delta flights to and from Asia, especially in conjunction with a transfer bonus.

At this point being able to redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for travel in ANA first and business class is by far the best use of those miles.

Did you ever redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for travel on Delta?

(Tip of the hat to Dankmeem4ys)

Comments

  1. What is happening to the miles/pts game!?!? These fees are killing me. Not only am I hub captive (ATL), now my choices are… pay DL 500k Miles + $5.60 or pay VS 50,000 +$1000. Wow.

  2. Any word on whether Air France/Flying Blue are also getting hit with these surcharges on international Delta awards? Just booked a J BOS to CDG for only $10 in taxes and 57,000 Air France miles last week and noticed on the Delta side a $236 charge but Air France didn’t pass it on to me.

  3. I almost transferred MR points to Virgin Atlantic when they had the 30% bonus transfer because of the Delta option to Europe. With the fuel surcharges these redemptions make no sense now so I’m really glad I didnt waste my points by transferring.

  4. Wow screw them!!! I had just transferred so many points!
    I hate when they play these games without fair warning.

  5. Also, on the VA topic, the bloggers have flogged the “ANA First with VA miles” thing so hard this past year that it’s dead for all intents and purposes. 2 seats in ANA F is basically a unicorn at this point.

  6. Did you ever look at the cost to fly JFK-Athens none stop with Delta miles -280,000 one way!!!!–round trip==560,000 –not a typo

  7. Let’s not use the old and inaccurate “fuel” surcharges identification in the headline. These are not related to fuel. They are correctly identified as “carrier imposed surcharges” in a breakdown at the website. They are the “the because we can rip you off we will” surcharges.

  8. Just booked Delta One Suites ATL to CDG last week for 50,000 plus $5.60 each. Glad I didn’t wait to pull the trigger!

  9. Some advanced warning would have been nice here. Award I wanted jumped $240 one way! Bet they’ll take a page out of Delta’s playbook and claim it’s illegal to give advanced notice of changes.

  10. Lucky,

    When searching for Delta One Transcon flights on Virgin Atlantic, do you want to set the class to Premium or Upper on the VA Website? Thanks!

  11. @Lucky – thanks for the quick reply! I basically saw zero available but wanted to make sure I was searching on the right setting.

  12. They only benefit I can see on VS is for last minute short trips to London as you only have to Pay 20,000 miles plus $470 round trip from Northeast. For a ticket that always goes for $2700 plus last minute on a full service carrier non stop. In that case u get your getting 10x value on the miles.

  13. @jerry

    I have also noticed that redeeming VS miles from California to Europe was not a bad deal too as flights from West Coast to London can easily cost $800 and beyond even when booking early.

  14. Lucky, did u know u cannot use VS to book Delta domestic awards of any class unless it’s 21 days or more from departure. Not good.

  15. I need to book a couple of ATL-CDG flights for next September, so I’m having to wait a while for the dates to open up. 50K each on Delta nonstop would be great, even if I have to use MR instead of Skymiles.

  16. Hey Lucky, just a note on Virgin…I was Virgin gold for years (almost got lifetime but so frustrated I gave up), and the major issue with redeeming on ANA is that it is a slow, painful process that can only be done by telephone and the agent has to spend a long time just searching a specific date you give them, then they come back to say “All full that day”. It’s actually not even worth it, unless one of your readers really enjoys spending an entire day on the phone to book an award flight. Sadly VS still need to catch up with others to make award bookings on partner airlines visible through their website.

  17. Thanks so much for this info! I was able to revise my travel plans and make use of 150,000 points without the surcharge!

  18. @Lucky, I’m still getting ATL/JFK-LHR flights to price out at 57,500 miles and $526.90. This is on Delta metal via Virgin website

  19. @CJ I agree with you. We had a points/miles meetup here in ATL last night and we were discussing some of the routes and found the same results. IDK if they VS has totally backtracked on these awards.

  20. @CJ IDK why I didn’t think of this before I wrote that previous comment but anything going into LHR has those high taxes. LHR is always the exception. The same high fees apply on BA too but you should find the regular fees (for VS miles on DL metal) for any other city in Europe.

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