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Delta allowing one-way Virgin Atlantic redemptions – with no taxes ex-US!

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US airline Delta, 49% shareholder in Virgin Atlantic, gave its Delta SkyMiles reward scheme a major shake-up on January 1st.  I won’t go into the details because it isn’t of much interest to flyers in the UK, but the one upside (against many downsides) from the changes is the introduction of one way redemptions.

Let me tell you why this is good news for UK flyers.  Delta adds fuel surcharges and extraneous fees to redemptions which start outside the US.  Redemptions which start inside the US have always been free of taxes.  However, the requirement to book a return flight – starting in the US – made it very difficult to take advantage if you lived in the UK.

Now that Delta allows you to book one-way redemptions, the game has changed.  You can book a one-way redemption on Virgin Atlantic from the US to the UK using Delta SkyMiles and pay no taxes or charges.

Let’s take a look at a few one way redemptions on Virgin Atlantic to show you what I mean.  Note that Delta seems to have exactly the same availability for Virgin Atlantic redemptions as you would get if you used Virgin Flying Club miles.

Virgin and Delta crew

Here are two costed examples of flights on Virgin Atlantic from the US to London:

New York to Heathrow – economy

17,500 Virgin Flying Club miles + $135

30,000 Delta SkyMiles + $5

New York to Heathrow – Upper Class

40,000 Virgin Flying Club miles + $420

62,500 Delta SkyMiles + $5

The difference is startling.  When flying FROM the US to the UK, whilst you need more SkyMiles than Flying Club Miles for the same redemption, the charges are virtually nothing.  The best deal is in Upper Class where, in my example, you are saving over $400.

However, if you look at some Virgin Atlantic redemptions starting outside the US, the picture is completely different.  The Delta redemptions are terrible value in all classes:

Heathrow to Atlanta – economy

17,500 Virgin Flying Club miles + £182

30,000 Delta SkyMiles + £235

Heathrow to Atlanta – Upper Class

40,000 Virgin Flying Club miles + £345

62,500 Delta SkyMiles + £361

Heathrow to Dubai – economy

19,250 Virgin Flying Club miles + £173

25,000 Delta SkyMiles + £213

Heathrow to Dubai – Upper Class

40,000 Virgin Flying Club miles + £335

42,500 Delta SkyMiles + £335

If you live in the UK the easiest way of earning Delta miles is from an American Express Membership Rewards transfer at 1:1.

This is definitely a strategy worth bearing in mind if you have a decent pile of Membership Rewards points.  You could choose to use your Amex points for a one-way flight FROM the US on Virgin (booked with Delta miles to wipe out the fuel surcharge) and then use Virgin Flying Club miles or Avios to book the outbound.

As a SkyTeam partner, you can earn Delta SkyMiles from flights on Air France, KLM, Korean etc.  You can also credit Virgin Atlantic flights to Delta.  Delta is a Starwood Preferred Guest partner if you have a decent stash of SPG points.

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles?  Click here to see recent articles on Virgin Atlantic, Little Red and Flying Club, and click here for the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

Comments (27)

  • Dylan says:

    Can the IHG visa’s 30k bonus be transferred to sky miles like it can in america?

  • Think Square says:

    Is it possible to transfer Amex MRs to an airline account in a different name? Mrs Square has a decent stash of MRs and I have 80k Delta miles. Combined they could be very useful.

    • Rob says:

      Generally not. However, some programmes have weaker checks than others. Best thing to do is try to send across 1,000 points (assuming surnames match) and see what happens. If it works you can follow up with a bigger move.

  • DC says:

    Is it possible to use Virgin Miles to book a Delta reward flight? I want to use Virgin points for a LA-LHR flight in June but Virgin have no reward flight availability…looking for an alternative solution!

  • Shane W says:

    I’m in the oppositve boat. Living in America with a bunch of Virgin Atlantic points. Do they allow one-way bookings on Delta using VA points yet?

  • Fenny says:

    Must check if I can find my Delta number. This could be very handy.

  • mottel says:

    what a wonderful post! Can someone please explain to me how to find premium economy tickets for virgin on the delta website? They show on the virgin site. I am trying to book a one way from JFK to LON

    • Rob says:

      Pretty sure you can’t. I don’t know if Delta can book them on the phone – I feel not because the Delta award chart does not including any prices for Premium Economy as Delta itself does not have it on its own aircraft.

  • David says:

    Most itineraries starting anywhere outside Europe are free of fuel surcharges – not just starting in the US. I checked one way HKG-LHR (operated by VS), ICN-LHR (operated by KE), and NBO-AMS-LHR (operated by KL) and all were surcharge free. You could use this to mix and match redemptions for a range of non-US destinations, and also to get access to AF/KL long haul flights if you were interested, without the usual charges those carriers assess through their own programs.