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Ouch: Virgin Atlantic Gutted Many Delta Sweet Spots (Again)

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From short domestic hops to Hawaiian and Caribbean escapes and even some ultra-long flights to Asia, booking Delta flights using points from Virgin Atlantic instead of SkyMiles can be the key to some serious savings. Those sweet spots are about to take a major hit.

Virgin Atlantic quietly updated its award chart for Delta flights this week, raising award rates by as much as 60% to book most Delta flights. The Points Guy first reported the news.

And they did it with hardly any warning: Those changes took effect the morning of Thursday, Dec. 7. That gave travelers with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points (or transferrable credit card points) precious little to book Delta flights before award rates shot up. That window has closed.

Just a few routes escaped unscathed from these hikes:

  • Delta redemptions to the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe haven't been touched – including an unbelievable bargain to book Delta One business class just 50,000 points each way across the pond … at least not yet.
  • The shortest flights of 500 miles or less will still cost 7,500 points each way.
  • Any redemptions made for travel completed before the end of the year will also price out at the current, lower rates.

Beyond that, expect to fork over far more points for almost any Delta redemption to destinations near and far. It's a massive devaluation with little warning: Virgin Atlantic never directly informed Flying Club members of the pending change.

Transcontinental flights from New York City (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX) in economy that you could previously book for 15,000 points each way have increased to 22,000 points – a nearly 47% hike. And one of the best ways to get to Japan got torched: This one-way flight from Seattle (SEA) to Tokyo-Haneda (HND) jumped from 27,500 points each way…
 

delta virgin redemption 

… to 44,000 points – a 60% jump. That's what you'll pay searching and booking through Virgin Atlantic today.
 

seattle to tokyo new booking  

It's all spelled out in Virgin's new award chart for most Delta flights – the cheat sheet that determines how many miles you need to book a flight. Here's a look at how Delta economy flights have changed.
 

Distance Economy (Current) Economy (New)
0-5007,500 points7,500 points
501-1,0008,500 points11,000 points
1,001-1,50011,500 points16,500 points
1,501-2,00012,500 points18,500 points
2,001-3,00015,000 points22,000 points
3,001-4,00022,500 points35,000 points
4,001-5,00027,500 points 44,000 points
5,001-6,00035,000 points 49,500 points
6,001+ 45,000 points65,500 points

Not sure how long your Delta flight is? Plug it into GCmap.com.

While they're not quite as lucrative, first class and Delta One redemptions took a hit, too.
 

DistanceDelta One/First Class (Current) Delta One/First Class (New)
0-50017,500 points21,000 points
501-1,00027,500 points41,500 points
1,001-1,50040,000 points59,500 points
1,501-2,00045,000 points66,500 points
2,001-3,00052,500 points70,000 points
3,001-4,00080,000 points80,000 points
4,001-5,000105,000 points105,000 points
5,001-6,000130,000 points130,000 points
6,001+165,000 points165,000 points

It's just the latest of several painful changes Virgin Atlantic has made to its Flying Club mileage program over the years.

Back in early 2021, the airline destroyed a similar sweet spot to get to Asia in Delta One for just 60,000 miles. And earlier this year, it also raised award rates to book ANA First Class.

“We recognize how much our members value the extensive range of redemption partner options available through Flying Club, including flights with our joint venture partner, Delta Air Lines,” the airline said in a statement to Thrifty Traveler. “Virgin Atlantic remains committed to offering our loyal members the most competitive pricing for redemption flights across our partner airline network.”

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has provided an invaluable workaround to book Delta flights for years. While Delta SkyMiles rates are constantly changing (and often exorbitantly expensive) the London-based airline offers a far more stable – and frequently far cheaper – alternative to book those exact same flights thanks to this separate award chart.

Plus, those points are even easier to earn than Delta SkyMiles. Virgin partners with all the major travel credit card companies, meaning you can transfer a stash of points from cards like the *venture x*, the *chase sapphire preferred*, the *amex gold*, and more to book these flights for huge savings. Soon, you'll need far more of them.

Even after these rate hikes, though, booking through Virgin will likely save you some serious SkyMiles. For example, while Virgin now charges 22,000 points for a flight between New York and Los Angeles, here's what Delta is often charging in SkyMiles.
 

delta jfk to lax skymiles  

Regular transfer bonuses to Virgin Atlantic (like a current 30% bonus with Amex) can soften the blow. Plus, you always get a main cabin economy fare when booking Delta flights via Virgin Atlantic – no pesky Delta basic economy awards here.

Still, this stings. There are many Delta redemptions you'll want to make by Wednesday night to lock in lower rates.

 

What's Not Changing?

The list of Delta routes hit by these increases is long. Let's start with what's safe … for now.

Virgin Atlantic maintains separate award charts for Delta redemptions to the United Kingdom as well as the rest of Europe, and those haven't been touched. That means you can still book a one-way with Delta to Amsterdam (AMS), Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG), or other European destinations for 30,000 points each way.
 

virgin atlantic award chart  

That means if you can find the award availability – or just wait for a Thrifty Traveler Premium deal – you can still book Delta One suites over to Europe for just 50,000 points each way.
 

dtw - ams delta one via virgin 

Flights to and from London-Heathrow (LHR) are also governed by a separate award chart, and those rates aren't changing, either. Award rates start as low as 15,000 points each way in economy or 47,500 points for business class, though Virgin passes on a boatload of taxes and fees that can make these redemptions far less lucrative.

Finally, the shortest domestic Delta hops of 500 miles or less in economy haven't changed. They'll still cost 7,500 points each way. That can come in handy for regional flights where Delta typically charges a boatload of cash or SkyMiles.
 

msp to fargo  

Virgin also isn't touching Delta One redemptions rates on flights of 3,001 miles or longer each way. But after that big devaluation back in 2021, those weren't a great deal anyway. And finding award availability on those long-haul routes to South America, Asia, or Australia that you can actually book with Virgin points is practically impossible, anyway.

 

Higher Rates on Many Delta Routes

As of Thursday morning, some of the best Delta redemptions will now cost you more points booking via Virgin Atlantic – in some cases, much more. The list of routes that took a hit is long.

Delta one-way flights that measure between 1,001 and 1,500 miles – like this flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Portland (PDX) – now cost 16,500 Virgin points each way – a jump of 43%.
 

msp to portland virgin  

You could previously book roundtrips from the Midwest to Mexico and the Caribbean for 25,000 points roundtrip. That has moved to 37,000 points, a 48% hike.
 

msp to mex virgin  

Nonstop flights to Hawaii were a bright spot booking via Virgin, too, like Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Honolulu (HNL) for 45,000 points roundtrip. After a nearly 56% increase, this same flight now costs 70,000 points roundtrip. 
 

msp to honolulu redemption  

One of the worst hikes of all hits our favorite sweet spots for travelers in Seattle (SEA), who could book Delta flights at cheaper rates to Tokyo-Haneda for just 22,500 points each way, or only 45,000 points roundtrip. With this increase, this flight same flight jumped to 44,000 points each way – or 88,000 points roundtrip. 
 

seattle to tokyo 

This is just a small sliver of the Delta flights that will now cost you more points than just a few days ago.

 

Bottom Line

This one hurts, Virgin.

With little notice, Virgin Atlantic drastically raised award rates to book many Delta flights, devaluing one of the best workarounds to book Delta flights for less. 

While flights to Europe in both economy and Delta One business class have escaped unscathed, it may only be a matter of time before those take a hit, too.
 

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4 Responses

  • I cannot access any Delta domestic flights on Flying Club right now. It appears that the inventory is already blocked.

    • Still seeing plenty of domestic inventory on our end. It may simply be unavailable on select routes and over peak periods (including through the holidays…)

  • It seems all my favorite ways to get to Asia (Japan especially) are getting removed. Any lingering ideas? I usually go for economy

  • Let’s call this Delta’s revenge. They ere embarrassed with the reaction to the new lounge restrictions, so they went back put on three Virgin Atlantic costume to made the money back.

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