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Virgin Atlantic increases the cost of Delta redemptions (and changes earning)

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Virgin Atlantic has announced changes to the way that you will earn and spend Virgin Flying Club miles on Delta Air Lines from 1st September.  Details are here.

Delta Air Lines acquired a 49% shareholding in Virgin Atlantic a couple of years ago.  Since then we have seen a gradual reshaping of the business.  More flights have been added to North America, whilst routes elsewhere have been dropped (Cape Town, Tokyo etc).  Delta flights at Heathrow have been transferred to Terminal 3 so that the two airlines can share facilities.

Virgin Atlantic 747

Despite these integrations, and even though you could earn Virgin Flying Club tier points on Delta, the two airlines were not fully joined:

flight redemptions on Delta were priced more cheaply than redemptions on Virgin Atlantic

mileage and tier point earning rates were different on Delta

The two airlines are being aligned from 1st September.

What is changing (spending)

At present, Virgin Flying Club redemptions between the UK and USA when flying on Delta are:

  • 40,000 miles return in Economy
  • 90,000 miles return in Business

From 1st September Delta will adopt Virgin pricing:

  • 20,000 – 30,000 miles return in Economy off-peak, depending on route
  • 40,000 – 50,000 miles return in Economy peak, depending on route
  • 95,000 – 135,000 miles return in Business off-peak, depending on route
  • 115,000 – 155,000 miles return in Business peak, depending on route

Whilst off-peak Economy redemptions will be cheaper, Business Class redemptions will jump by as much as 72%.

Both airlines allow one-way redemptions.  It isn’t clear if taxes and charges will be aligned between carriers.

What is changing (earning)

The current structure is moving to the Virgin Atlantic model which rewards the purchase of flexible tickets more highly.

You can find full details on the Virgin Atlantic website here.

In summary, looking only at transatlantic tickets:

Delta One / Business tickets jump from the current 150%-200% of miles flown to 200%-400% of miles flown, before status bonus

Main Cabin / Economy tickets remain at 50%-150% of miles flown BUT far more ticket buckets will now earn 50%

There are also changes to tier point earning.  This will mainly impact those who were cheekily adding on domestic Business Class Delta segments to transatlantic flights in order to pick up 75 tier points each way (eg routing a Boston flight as London – New York – Boston to earn a whopping 75 tier points each way on the Boston hop.  This will now drop to 40 tier points each way).

Whilst these changes are disappointing, it does make sense to fully align earning and spending between Virgin and Delta.  At present there were incentives to choose one airline over the other depending on which exact ticket sub-class you were flying.

These changes come into effect for tickets booked from 1st September.


HFP Virgin Atlantic Rewards credit card

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (June 2021)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, one has a bonus of 15,000 Points):

Virgin Rewards credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

The UK’s most generous free Visa or Mastercard at 0.75 points / £1 Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review

You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Points

(Want to earn more Virgin Points?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

Comments (7)

  • Simon Schus says:

    Thanks 🙂

    From memory, booking Delta flights from US -> UK with Delta SkyMiles led to a fairly large outlay or airmiles but tiny taxes+fuel surcharges (like £5 or so). I found the article from HfP here: https://headforpoints.com/2015/01/06/delta-one-way-virgin-atlantic-redemptions-no-taxes/

    With the changes to Virgin, is there any expectation that these low taxes+fuel surcharges will be the case when booking Delta flights with Virgin Flying Club Miles? Or do you think that the taxes+fuel surcharges be the equivalent as if you had bought the Virgin flight?

    • Rob says:

      Might change.

      Delta has just started adding surcharges to Virgin tickets booked with Delta miles which is not a good precedent.

      • Simon Schus says:

        Raaaaaaabish (not that I ever use SkyMiles for that purpose).

      • Alan says:

        Although on the positive side it does help protect availability for UK residents that don’t have access to the same miles-earning opportunities as those in the USA…

  • Simon Schus says:

    P.S. Sorry if this is old news that isn’t correct anymore. I very rarely fly/collect with Delta.

  • Denhoward says:

    Another recent change is that you can now book one way for half the number of miles. Would be interesting to see the difference in cost of, say, LAX-LHR one way on Virgin vs Delta using Virgin miles

  • Paul Harris says:

    Is anyone having issues when trying to redeem Virgin miles?, Over the past 6 months i’ve tried to redeem my miles for 3 flights that appeared on the website and I have got to the stage of slelecting seats only to be told after entering payment details that the seats are not available. Ive called the service centre and each time they are unable to see the flights I’m trying to book, numerous emails and pictures of my screen sent to Virgin, and still no reply regarding solving this issue. Yet another attempt tonight……same story. Website cannot be trusted….sorry to say but the old site was more reliable with the information on screen.

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