From flying domestically for a bargain to traveling to Europe in style in Delta One suites for 50,000 points, you can save a bunch of Delta SkyMiles by booking through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. But travelers like me based in Seattle (SEA) might be the biggest winners to save on this amazing workaround.
When I want to escape the rain and gloom of the Pacific Northwest, a nonstop Delta flight to another state used to cost just 8,500 points or even less – while the beaches of Hawaii are just 30,000 Virgin points away for roundtrip flights. And thanks to the proximity to the Pacific Ocean up here in Seattle, you can also book Delta flights to Asia for a bargain, too – often a fraction of what Delta charges in SkyMiles for the exact same flight.
Unfortunately, this workaround took a major hit in late 2023 as Virgin Atlantic raised award rates on nearly all Delta flights … by as much as 60%. Even after those painful hikes, you can still easily save a decent chunk of miles by booking through Virgin Atlantic compared to what Delta will charge you in SkyMiles for the exact same flights.
It's possible due to airline alliances and partnerships, allowing travelers to use miles from one airline to book flights on a dozen (or more) other carriers. Few of these partnerships are more valuable to Delta flyers than this relationship with Virgin Atlantic – both belong to the SkyTeam alliance.
Plus, Virgin points are even easier to earn than Delta SkyMiles. Travel credit cards like the *amex gold*, *chase sapphire preferred*, and *venture x* earn points that are transferrable to Virgin Atlantic … often with a 30% transfer bonus, reducing how many points you need to book an already-fantastic deal through Virgin.
Booking these flights through Virgin is just too easy. We're seeing fairly wide-open availability through the holidays and into 2024 to book these Delta economy flights between Seattle and Hawaii, South Korea, and Japan via Virgin Atlantic. Whether you're a fellow Seattleite or willing to book a positioning flight to take advantage of a good flight deal redeemable with points, let's look at these three Delta routes you can book for far fewer points by turning to Virgin Atlantic.
Read our full guide on booking Delta flights through Virgin Atlantic!
The Basics of Booking Delta via Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic is the British airline founded by businessman (and now astronaut) Sir Richard Branson in 1984. It's got a close partnership with Delta, which owns almost half the U.K. airline in addition to belonging to the same alliance.
Of course, you can use Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points to fly Virgin Atlantic between the U.S. and U.K. But it's not a great value: Their rates aren't the best, and they tack on pretty exorbitant taxes and fees.
But their partnership means you can also use those points to fly Delta – and it's a much better deal. While Delta's dynamic award pricing means that the number of SkyMiles you'll need to book a flight is unpredictable and constantly fluctuating, Virgin Atlantic's award rates are stable.
By searching for Delta flights through the Virgin Atlantic website, you can often book Delta award tickets for a fraction of the SkyMiles Delta is charging for the exact same flights. And the fees are reasonable, too: Just $5.60 for most one-way flights from the U.S., unless you're heading to London-Heathrow (LHR).
And that's where we travelers can take advantage, booking for fewer points through Virgin.
Virgin Atlantic's Award Chart
Delta got rid of its SkyMiles award chart – the cheat sheet that determines how many points you need to book a flight from point A to point B – years ago. But Virgin Atlantic has still got one, including for the Delta flights we care about.
For most Delta flights, Virgin Atlantic uses a distance-based award chart for domestic flights within the U.S., and to destinations like Asia, Australia, Mexico, and the Caribbean. The longer the flight, the more points it'll cost you.
That means many long-haul flights will cost you more points. Some cost much more than they did years ago after Virgin made some negative changes – especially if you want to book business class seats on Delta.
There's a separate award charts for flights to United Kingdom and another for all other flights to Europe. But that's not what we're worried about here.
We've broken it down into a handy chart with some of the most popular redemptions, with all pricing listed for one-way flights. Want to book a round-trip? Just double it. As you can see, some of these flights are far more reasonable than others – especially from Seattle.
|Business Class (one-way)
|Flights under 500 miles
|Flights 501-1,000 miles
|Seattle (SEA) to Honolulu (HNL)
|Detroit (DTW) to Honolulu (HNL)
|U.S. to Europe (excluding U.K.)
|Seattle (SEA) to Tokyo-Haneda (HND)
|Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Tokyo-Haneda (HND)
|Seattle (SEA) to Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
|Atlanta (ATL) to Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
|New York City (JFK) to Sao Paulo (GRU)
|Los Angeles (LAX) to Sydney (SYD)
Not sure how long your flight is? Plug it into GCmap.com.
Follow the chart and you'll see the shortest domestic flights start at 7,500 miles each way. Even flights up to 1,000 miles can be a deal at just 11,000 miles each way in economy. And since a one-way flight from Seattle to Tokyo-Haneda (HND) measures roughly 4,800 miles, you can book it for 44,000 Virgin points each way.
To book at these rates, you'll have to search at VirginAtlantic.com. But there are some important caveats when booking Delta flights using Virgin Atlantic points:
- Great award rates are one thing, but first you need to find the availability to book these Delta flights via Virgin … and that can require some flexibility (even sometimes for Delta economy class). You might find what you're looking for, but your search might come up completely empty-handed
- You typically need to book at least three weeks before departure, otherwise you won't see Delta flights when searching through Virgin Atlantic, period
- You'll want to focus on nonstop flights, as Virgin charges per segment. If your flight involves a connection, Virgin Atlantic will measure the distance of each flight and add them together for the final total
- You can enter your SkyMiles number when you book to easily manage your trip through Delta, but you won't earn SkyMiles or Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) towards Medallion Status with these tickets
- Since you're flying Delta, you can still get Delta Sky Club access with a card like the *delta reserve card* or *amex platinum* (with new restrictions)
Beyond the better deals, there's one huge upside booking through Virgin Atlantic. While the cheapest rates you might find using your SkyMiles might be a basic economy award, every Delta economy fare you can book with Virgin points is a Delta main cabin economy ticket.
That's huge. That means you could use more SkyMiles for a skimpier ticket, meaning you'd board last and have to pay extra to pick a seat … or you could book for fewer points through Virgin, and get that option for free.
With that out of the way, let's see these savings in action from Seattle.
Seattle to Anywhere in Hawaii for 22K
Don't sleep on Seattle if you've got Hawaii on your wishlist.
Seattle is one of Delta's most-important hubs, so they've got plenty of nonstop flights to Hawaii – and not just Honolulu (HNL), but Maui (OGG), Kauai (LIH) and the Big Island (KOA), too.
No matter where you go, you can book these flights for just 44,000 Virgin points and $11.20 roundtrip. Time it right, and you could make this deal even sweeter by using a 30% transfer bonus (like a current bonus from Chase) that credit cards regularly offer to Virgin Atlantic – only 34,000 Virgin points to make your vacation to Hawaii a reality.
Finding these Delta flights through Virgin is typically fairly easy: We're seeing plentiful availability from Seattle to the Hawaiian islands from November through February 2024. Getting back should be easy, too.
For example, here's a look at all your options for flying nonstop from Seattle to Maui early next year for just 22,000 points.
What's great about these flights is that you're booking Delta main cabin tickets, so you can pick your seats without extra fees – or risk getting stuck in the middle. After booking, just go to Delta.com and find your flights, where you can quickly pick a seat for free.
Looking at flights you could book right now that depart as soon as January, you could forget about those expensive holiday fares.
That said, you could book these flights from Seattle at even cheaper rates using SkyMiles after this Virgin points devaluation. These flights could be quite cheap if an amazing Delta SkyMiles flash sale pops up. And paying cash, these fares from Seattle (SEA) can sometimes be quite cheap – think $300 or less roundtrip – meaning you might rather save your points for another deal.
At the very least, it's worth comparing between both Delta and Virgin Atlantic.
Just be aware that the cheapest options will almost always be Delta basic economy fares, loaded with restrictions. When you book Delta flights through Virgin, they're always main cabin.
If you do find a better deal to Hawaii through Delta, you could make it even cheaper if you've got a Delta co-branded card like the *delta skymiles gold card*, which gets you another 15% off when using SkyMiles. No matter how you book, that card could be worth having for one reason: free luggage.
On domestic Delta flights, you'll pay $30 each way to check a bag. But with the Delta Gold Card, you get your first checked bag free – and that works even if you book using Virgin Atlantic points. Considering the card has a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99 thereafter (see rates & fees), it could be well worth it.
Seattle to Seoul
Looking to manifest your K-drama fantasies in 2024? Seattle is another fantastic starting point for getting to Seoul (ICN).
If you're on the West Coast or willing to fly out of Seattle, you can book nonstop Delta economy flights to South Korea for 99,000 points and $44.20 per passenger roundtrip.
It's still a fairly cheap way to get to Asia flying Delta using Virgin points – and because you're booking a main cabin economy ticket on this international flight, you can even check two bags for free. With roundtrip fares to South Korea regularly $1,200 or more, this is a bargain. It's a deal I'm taking advantage of myself, booking my family of four to Seoul early next year.
Delta operates other nonstop flights to Seoul from hubs like Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), Detroit (DTW), and Atlanta (ATL), but the longer distance means you'll need 131,000 points for roundtrip flights from those cities. That historically put Seattle in the sweet spot again for lower rates when booking through Virgin.
If you can take advantage of a frequent Virgin Atlantic transfer bonus, you'd need just 39,000 credit card points from banks like Chase, Capital One, or Amex to book these flights. What a bargain!
Unfortunately, there is almost no availability outside of the scattered outbound flights from Seattle as of March 2024 at the time of publication. A one way ticket will run you 49,500 Virgin points plus $6. It's still a good deal despite the devaluation.
You might be able to find flights with other SkyTeam airlines like Air France and Korean Air departing from other U.S. cities that will cost less points. They'll just have connections and potentially higher tax fees.
If you were redeeming Delta SkyMiles instead, the same main cabin ticket would run you 112,000 Delta SkyMiles plus $45 roundtrip. This could be a better deal depending on where you are flying from.
Whether you plan to stay in South Korea or want to use Seoul as a jumping-off point to head elsewhere in Asia, this is a solid option to get to Asia. And it's great for Seattleites, West Coast residents, or anyone who can hitch a cheap flight to Seattle in order to take advantage of these lower rates to Seoul.
Seattle to Tokyo, Too
Dreaming of walking through the beautiful, pink cherry blossoms paths in Japan? Flying from Seattle to Tokyo is the best deal of them all.
It's just 88,000 Virgin points roundtrip – a fraction of what Delta typically charges in SkyMiles – with reasonable cash fees. Time it with a Virgin Atlantic transfer bonus, and you could book a trip to Japan and back using just 68,000 points total.
Other Delta nonstops to will cost you more Virgin points due to the longer flights. If you were paying cash, this Delta flight could easily cost you around $2,000 for the same route.
Award availability via Virgin on this route is currently nonexistent, but this is one to keep track of. In the past, we've alerted our Thrifty Traveler Premium members to some wide-open availability from Seattle and other cities – including for a trip over cherry blossom season!
Looking to book this using Delta SkyMiles? Just forget about it. Unless you luck out with a rare SkyMiles flash sale to Tokyo, these nonstop Delta flights will often cost you twice as many points as booking through Virgin Atlantic … or even more.
Many travelers trying to use points might think to fly out of Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO) first. But as a Seattleite, this is a route I'm tracking closely – and you should too.
How to Book Delta Flights via Virgin
We've written guides on how to use Virgin points extensively here at Thrifty Traveler because of the amazing value it offers to travelers, both domestically and internationally.
It's a fairly simple process: Just head to VirginAtlantic.com and start searching. But their website can be wonky, and finding the Delta flights you can actually book can require some trial and error.
While Virgin removed a handy price calendar to see five week's worth of flights, you can still use a trick to pull it up. There's also Virgin's relatively new Reward Seat Checker tool, which you can use to pinpoint Delta flights..
On the Virgin booking page, simply click “Advanced search” to begin finding flight availability from your home or nearby airport. Be sure to start with a one way search, then select “Show flexible dates,” then “Points,” and “Economy.”
When entering your airports, you might encounter some issues: Virgin might pull up nothing. In that case, manually select “see full airport list” and find the airport you need.
You will have to search week-by-week until you see a screen showing the available flights for that week.
One you get to this screen, edit the “flexible-dates” portion of the URL link to “flexible-calendar” in order to get a more helpful, month-to-month view of availability.
Making these magical redemptions work can require some patience and flexibility. Sometimes, Delta will release plenty of these seats to book via Virgin Atlantic. Other times, you can scroll through months of flights without seeing a single seat – or your search may just error out. Fortunately, it's much easier for these economy flights in and out of Seattle.
Simply repeat the process when researching for a return flight and then change the search from “One way” to “Round trip” to finalize your booking. This is important for some international flights because roundtrip bookings originating in the U.S. may have lower taxes than booking two separate one-way flights.
Flying into one city and back from another? Use the multi-city search tool to book once you've pinpointed available dates.
If you encounter any issues with no available flights being available, simply repeat the steps for different dates and nearby airports until you are able to find the best flights for you.
How to Earn Virgin Atlantic Points
Unfortunately, you can't transfer Delta SkyMiles to a Virgin Atlantic account. Yet Virgin points are some of the easiest to earn since you can instantly transfer points to Virgin at a 1:1 ratio from all major transferrable points programs.
If you're earning Amex Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One Venture Miles, and Citi ThankYou points, those can be transferred to Virgin. And if you're earning points on rent, you can also transfer Bilt Rewards. Just beware that with both Bilt and Capital One, you'll actually transfer points to your Virgin Red account – check out our walkthrough of how to do it!
If you're just starting out with points and miles, we consider the *CSP* the best travel rewards credit card for beginners. Currently, you can earn a welcome bonus of 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. And with 3x points per dollar spent for dining and 2x points for travel purchases, it's really easy to rack up a ton of Chase points that can be instantly transferred to Virgin points.
Learn more about the *csp*.
The *venture x* is loaded with benefits such as access to Capital One Lounges and Priority Pass lounges, a $300 annual travel credit, a credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, great travel and rental car insurance protection, and more. The annual fee clocks in at $395 a year, but the benefits can easily outweigh that.
The best part is that you can currently earn 75,000 Venture Miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Considering you earn at least 2x for every dollar you spend on the Venture X Card, you’ll earn a total of at least 83,000 Venture Miles, which can be transferred instantly to 83,000 Virgin points. That alone is enough to fly Delta One business class to Europe from anywhere in the U.S.
Learn more about the *venture x*.
The *amex gold card* is currently offering a 60,000-point welcome bonus after spending $6,000 in the first six months. Better yet, you may be able to qualify for a whopping 75,000-point welcome bonus using CardMatch – or even find a 90,000-point bonus if you're lucky!
Beyond that bonus, this card is easily one of the best all-around travel cards on the market thanks largely to an unbeatable 4x return on an unlimited amount of spending at restaurants and 4x points on up to $25,000 a year spent at U.S. supermarkets – and 1x points after that.
Learn more about the *amex gold*
Let's make one thing clear: Credit cards are serious business. You should never apply for a credit card if you're already in debt, and never charge more to a credit card than you can afford to pay off immediately. Any points or cash back you might earn from a credit card aren't worth it.
But if you can do so responsibly, why not maximize those points by booking flights to Hawaii or Asia for even less through Virgin?
There are countless ways to book Delta flights for fewer points by turning to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. But Seattle is one of the sweetest spot of them all.
Trips to Hawaii, South Korea, and Japan are popular destinations that often come with a hefty price tag if booked with cash. But that's not the case when booking from Seattle using Virgin points, as you'll get some of the lowest rates you can find from any mileage program.
Don't be sleepless in Seattle. You'll miss the window to book these deals available now.