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Virgin Guts Delta One Awards to Europe with Huge Fees, Higher Rates

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Even as Virgin Atlantic nuked other sweet spots to book Delta flights for fewer points, booking a Delta One business class seat between the U.S. and Europe for a flat 50,000 points was the gold standard. Finding the award availability to actually book at those dirt-cheap rates could be a challenge … but with some flexibility, it could be done. 

Now those days are over.

With absolutely no warning, Virgin Atlantic just quietly raised award rates for many Delta One tickets to Europe to as much as 77,500 points by adding peak and off-peak prices. It gets worse: The airline also added a cash surcharge of more than $1,000 on each and every Delta business class redemption.

So instead of paying a flat 50,000 points and $5.60 in taxes, you get this – if not worse. 


delta one redemption


Only Delta economy redemptions to Europe escaped unscathed: Those remain 30,000 Virgin points each way with a flat $5.60 in taxes, no matter when or where you travel.

But for booking business class, that $1,000-plus cash charge for booking Delta business class awards is positively brutal, negating much of the value of using transferrable credit card points to book a Delta One seat abroad. And it applies to every Delta One redemption overseas.

This was the best way to book Delta business class … and one of the best deals in the world of points and miles, period. But considering Delta often charged 400,000 SkyMiles or more for these exact same lie-flat seats, it was only a matter of time before this loophole to book for 50,000 points was finally, regrettably, closed.

Still, this stings. And while Virgin Atlantic confirmed the change on Tuesday morning, the airline never directly informed customers before making this drastic change, giving them no chance to book before these changes took effect. 

“We routinely evaluate our pricing and from 2 July we have updated pricing for redemption flights using Virgin Points on our Business class cabins, to align with our Joint Venture pricing,” an airline spokesperson said in a statement. “Virgin Atlantic remains committed to offering our loyal members the most competitive pricing for redemption flights across our partner airline network.”



delta business class seat


Yesterday, you could have booked a summer flight in Delta One Suites flying from Seattle (SEA) to Amsterdam (AMS) or Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) for just 50,000 points and $5.60 in taxes and fees. Today, that same redemption would cost you 77,500 points and $1,032.

Those changes are all spelled out in Virgin's new award chart for fights between the U.S. and Europe, excluding the U.K. Take a look.


virgin atlantic award chart



This award chart doesn't explicitly list what transatlantic flights to and from Midwestern hubs like Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) or Detroit (DTW), but the airline confirmed they'll price out at the lower East Coast rates. And as you see above, rates to book Delta economy to or from Europe remain unchanged: It's still a flat 30,000 points each way – without additional pesky surcharges. 

Virgin has long used a separate award chart for Delta flights to and from its hub in London-Heathrow (LHR) and other British cities. This change puts flights to and from the rest of Europe more in line with those U.K.-bound flights – including those punishing cash surcharges.

The introduction of peak and off-peak pricing further complicates things, meaning you'll need even more points to book Delta One business class overseas during busier times like summer, Christmas, and New Year's. Here's how it breaks down: 

  • Standard pricing includes Jan. 4 – March 21, April 16 to June 15, Sept. 3 to Oct. 24, and Nov. 6 to Dec. 6.
  • Peak pricing kicks in for Jan. 1 – Jan. 3, March 22 to April 15, June 16 to Sept. 2, Oct. 25 to Nov. 5, and Dec. 7 to Jan. 5, 2025.


virgin peak off peak


There's just one small silver lining: The shortest flights from the East Coast to Europe during the standard season drops to 47,500 points each way. But considering those flights are also now subject to more than $1,000 in fees, that's hardly a win. 

Virgin didn't pull that $1,000 sum out of thin air. That's exactly the surcharge Delta tacks onto every one-way business class flight between the U.S. and Europe, as you can see in this fare breakdown from ITA Matrix. Delta doesn't pass on that steep cost when you're redeeming SkyMiles, nor did Virgin Atlantic … until now.


ita matrix carrier surcharge


Throw in some meager taxes and fees, and you get a total bill of $1,032 on top of all those points you're burning, too. Ouch.

With 50,000-point and $5 business class redemptions officially out the window with Virgin, that leaves Air France/KLM Flying Blue as far and away the best way to book Delta business class to Europe. The airline charges anywhere between 59,000 miles to 98,000 miles for a one-way between the U.S. and Europe – the longer the flight, the more it'll cost – while still tacking on reasonable cash costs. 

Admittedly, pulling off these dirt-cheap Delta One redemptions has been a chore in recent years. You need to find award availability to actually to book through Virgin at these lower rates … and Delta can be incredibly stingy with letting that happen. 

But not always. In the last few months, we've sent Thrifty Traveler Premium members a handful of alerts to book Delta One to Europe for 50,000 points or less. Earlier this year, for example, we found a ton of Delta One availability bookable through Virgin Atlantic on many nonstop routes to Amsterdam (AMS), Dublin (DUB), Frankfurt (FRA), Lisbon (LIS), and Munich (MUC), among others. 


premium deal delta one



With higher award rates and brutal cash surcharges, Virgin is hardly worth considering.

It's the end of an era. For nearly a decade, Virgin Atlantic has been the go-to way for travelers to book Delta flights for a fraction of the SkyMiles Delta itself was charging. 

While Delta SkyMiles rates are constantly changing (and often exorbitantly expensive), Virgin Atlantic Flying Club offers a far more stable – and frequently far cheaper – alternative to book those exact same flights thanks to these separate award charts. That opened the door to booking Delta business class to Europe for just 50,000 points … even when Delta was charging 400,000 SkyMiles or more for the exact same flight. 


Delta One Suite A330neo


Plus, those points are even easier to earn than Delta SkyMiles. Virgin partners with all the major travel credit card companies, meaning you could transfer a stash of points from cards like the *venture x*, the *chase sapphire preferred*, the *amex gold*, and more to book flights within the U.S., to Europe, and beyond for huge savings.

But over the past few years, Virgin has eliminated almost every workaround to save a boatload of miles on Delta flights.

It started in early 2021, when Virgin Atlantic drastically raised award rates to book many long-haul Delta flights … in some cases, by as much as 175%. A Delta One Suite to Tokyo-Haneda (HND) that was previously bookable for just 60,000 points through Virgin now costs 130,000, even 160,000 points each way. 

Then late last year, the airline again hiked award rates for many Delta redemptions, eliminating the savings to book many domestic and short-haul hops. Long gone are the days of booking Delta flights to Hawaii and back for 45,000 points and roundtrips to Mexico for 25,000 points or less.


delta plane


All the while, most flights to Europe remained untouched. Until now, that is: Virgin Atlantic just came back to finish the job, putting the final nail in the coffin in these excellent Delta redemptions.

Why? Well, consider this: Delta owns a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic. Again and again and again, it's hard to shake the feeling that the Atlanta-based airline is pulling the strings of its British partner with these kinds of changes. 

Regardless, it's just the latest painful reminder to use your points ASAP rather than watch your balances grow. All it takes is an overnight change to make those points worth less … or flat-out worthless. 


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

8 Responses

  • How is this even legal? Don’t they need to qualify what the fee’s are for? Either way, another L for delta/sky team

  • I had really been finding Virgin Atlantic redemptions useful this last four years, including a couple Delta One flights to Europe. I would have understood the increase in point costs, but the $1000 surcharge just makes them as irrelevant has VS upper-class redemptions. What a loss.

  • There have been several youtube channels showing you how to book the old way with less points and pennies on the dollar. I watch one the other day and said I hope the airlines do not see this and take it away. Obviously and sadly they saw it and took it away.

  • Won’t be flying virgin anymore – total slap in the face. Frankly not that big of a loss – the lounge in Dulles is lame and as a charter Diamond almost 3M miler I’ll find flights on KLM and other airlines. Sad.

  • Like I have said before, Delta took bailout money from tax payers during Covid and this is how they are paying it back.

  • Let’s be realistic, this can clearly be laid at the feet of Delta. They own half of Virgin and enjoy telling companies they partially own what to do. There’s not another airline out there that hates engaged loyalty members as much as Delta and this is just another way for them to give those loyalists another big middle finger.

  • It’s another fine reason to leave Delta as the benefits are just not adding up any more. It started with the removal of MQD waivers for diamond if you held the Amex all those years ago and it’s been a steady decline since then. Last year we could enjoy the virgin lounge in LHR but but we are demoted to some carpet stained lounge serving crusty sandwiches in a basement room filled with passengers waiting in line to get a seat, no less a lounge that I can gain access to using my priority pass that costs me a paltry $400 a year.

    I love delta but asa million miler it’s time to say goodbye at the end of this year. Sadly we don’t have any other choices for quality US carriers as the rest do t even compare for service and on time flights but all these changes are simply too much especially for myself as a frequent flyer only for personal use. Almost 29 years as a platinum member and a few years I managed to hit diamond. Alas no more, I will miss deltas awesome staff and Aeroplanes but the cost is not worth it especially on those long haul flights where Korean air does not even have a premium economy section.

    I’ve started to play the credit card sub game now and I have much more freedom and far better routing than if I just stuck with delta. All good things must come to an end. 😥

  • I haven’t found any Delta one availability to Europe in years since COVID on Virgin. And I’ve looked at all sorts of dates and tried all their hubs. Virtually impossible to find. Been trying to get rid of some I was going to use in 2020 for exactly this purpose. There’s basically zero domestic availability on Delta domestic to use them up either

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