These days, using Delta SkyMiles to fly business class is a losing battle. Whether you’re hoping for a Delta One Suite or flying with a partner airline like Air France or KLM, Delta charges an arm and a leg to fly up front. Except for one massive sweet spot.
You can still fly from the U.S. to Tel Aviv (TLV) or elsewhere in the Middle East using just 85,000 SkyMiles each way – including on Virgin Atlantic’s outstanding new business class. And we’re seeing some incredible award space to do it, with four (or more!) seats from January all the way through September 2022.
At just 85,000 SkyMiles each way, it’s one of the best ways to use SkyMiles if you want to fly business class. That’s less than what Virgin itself charges for flights to the Middle East with a pitstop in London. We alerted Thrifty Traveler Premium members to this outstanding award space last week, but there’s still plenty out there to book a trip to Israel next year.
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From Miami (MIA) to Seattle (SEA) and everywhere in between, there’s fantastic availability from many of Virgin Atlantic’s U.S. gateways. But you’ll want to hitch a ride across the pond on the airline’s latest-and-greatest Airbus A350-1000s, complete with flashy new suites.
And that means you’ll want to start in New York City (JFK), Atlanta (ATL), Los Angeles (LAX), or San Francisco (SFO). Virgin is even flying these brand new planes on many flights from London onward to Tel Aviv. You might also find flights operated by Air France or KLM at these rates, which also offer competitive business class products.
But Virgin is our top choice here – especially since you can check out their outstanding Clubhouse Lounge at Heathrow during your pitstop in London.
Read our full review of Virgin Atlantic’s new Upper Class Suite on the A350-1000!
After closing off to travelers in March 2020 and fighting back a deadly wave of COVID-19 cases, Israel finally reopened to travelers on Nov. 1 with vaccination and testing requirements. Currently, you’ll need your CDC vaccination card, a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before boarding your flight to Israel, and then take a second test upon arrival.
But even if things change or you decide to put off your trip to Israel, flexibility is paramount – and that’s why booking with SkyMiles is so great. All these SkyMiles award tickets can be canceled for free to get your miles (and taxes) straight back to your account.
Taxes and fees are fairly reasonable, at roughly $65 for a one-way flight from the U.S. to Israel and about $186 for a round-trip booking. And yes, there’s equally stellar availability on the return flights if you want to make a roundtrip booking for 170,000 SkyMiles.
Considering that’s what Delta charges for most one-way flights across the Atlantic Ocean, this is a sweet spot worth highlighting.
What It’s Like Flying Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
While there may be faster ways to get to Israel, it’s worth flying Virgin Atlantic for two reasons.
First, their new suites on the A350 are some of the best seats you can find on any transatlantic flights. The finishes are chic, seats are cozy and spacious, and there’s even a lounge onboard. The quintessentially British service on Virgin Atlantic is second-to-none.
Simply put: This seat is hard to beat.
And it’s worth making the pitstop in London for one more reason: You get access to the flagship Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, one of the absolute best business class lounges in the world.
Contributor Elliott Bowles said this lounge “even competes with some of the first class lounges I have visited. The Clubhouse has it all: complimentary spa treatments, shower saunas, and tasty food and drink served at your table.”
After closing down throughout much of the pandemic, the Clubhouse lounge reopened this summer.
How to Book
It’s one of the funniest maxims in using points and miles: One of the best ways to book Delta flights is by using Virgin Atlantic miles. But when you want to fly Virgin Atlantic, you should use Delta SkyMiles.
There are other options to book these flights: Virgin Atlantic miles, of course, as well as Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles. But you’ll pay a boatload in fees as well as even more miles, as you can see with this Virgin Atlantic redemption.
The low surcharges combined with the flexibility to cancel and get your miles back free makes using Delta SkyMiles a no-brainer. Even partner airline awards (like this one) booked with SkyMiles are fully refundable. Canceling online is easy – you should get your miles and taxes back almost automatically.
And the value here is undeniable. Consider this: After another major devaluation earlier this year, Delta now charges 120,000 SkyMiles to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class from the U.S. to London. Tack on that additional flight to Israel, and it drops the price to 85,000 SkyMiles total. It’s a major sweetspot.
Virgin Atlantic is incredibly generous with releasing award space when booking with SkyMiles, too. Just look at how easy it is to book seats for two (or more!) passengers all the way to Tel Aviv from New York City next spring.
To book, just head to Delta.com and start searching. Click “Shop with Miles,” filter for Delta One, and be sure to search for as many seats as you need. Use Delta’s handy “Price Calendar” function to get a full five-week view of the availability.
Read up on the 12 best ways to pile up Delta SkyMiles!
Flights to Israel are rarely cheap … and that’s if you’re flying economy. Business class? Forget it. And even using Delta SkyMiles, getting a great deal on flying business class has gotten harder and harder.
That’s what makes this sweet spot so stellar. This is a great way to use some SkyMiles for a bucket list trip next year in style.
Want the scoop on other great ways to use your points and miles? Get Thrifty Traveler Premium for just $7.99 a month, and you’ll get award alerts sent straight to your inbox!