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!
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)