The good news is that this only applies to US routes. The other bit of good news is that you can save £300 in taxes and charges by redeeming on Virgin’s partner, Delta Air Lines, instead and paying £464 return.
There are other exceptional deals to be had redeeming Virgin miles on Delta
There is one trick about Delta Air Lines redemptions which we have never covered on HFP before in detail, and it is this:
One-way redemptions from the United States to Europe (excluding the UK) on Delta cost just 50,000 Virgin Flying Club miles and £4 of tax. This is for Business Class.
£4, that’s it. Don’t believe me? Here are a few examples:
Boston to Amsterdam (click to enlarge):
Los Angeles to Paris (click to enlarge):
It is an exceptional deal.
Surely there is a snag?
There are three issues you need to know about, but they are not deal breakers.
The first point is that you only get these prices on flights TO mainland Europe and Ireland. Flying FROM mainland Europe and Ireland, taxes are far higher. A one-way flight from Paris to Los Angeles comes with €291 of tax in Business Class:
Whilst you’re still saving money flying both legs from Europe, you might prefer to do the outbound differently. Perhaps a separate redemption from the UK, using Avios or Virgin miles? As Norwegian prices all its tickets as one-way flights, there may also be value in booking Norwegian Premium for cash (see our review of Norwegian Premium) from the UK and then doing a £4 taxes Delta flight back. As most US flights are day flights on the way out, Norwegian Premium might be good enough.
The second point is that mileage pricing jumps up sharply if you are connecting inside the United States from one Delta flight to another and then to mainland Europe. Taxes will remain at £4 ($5.60) but the mileage jumps to 75,000 miles. Connections should rarely be necessary however.
The third point is that not all European countries can be booked via the Virgin Atlantic website. This means that a lot of routes can only be booked by telephone. You need to use the Delta website to look for one-way ‘Delta One’ business class redemptions at 105,000 Delta miles one-way.
Switzerland, for example, is not supported for online booking via the Virgin website. However, if you can see New York to Zurich for 105,000 Delta miles one-way on delta.com then Virgin Atlantic should be able to book the same seat via their call centre for 50,000 Virgin Flying Club miles + $5.60. You do not need a Delta SkyMiles account to search reward availability on delta.com.
IMPORTANT: if the Delta website shows a far higher price than 105,000 Delta miles one-way then Virgin Atlantic will not be able to book it. Only Delta redemptions at the lowest miles level are available to partners such as Virgin Flying Club.
Here is a worked example for New York JFK to Zurich for a random week in February 2020 (click to enlarge). Remember that I did this search at delta.com because the Virgin Atlantic website does not recognise Switzerland:
The Virgin Atlantic call centre should be able to book you on Saturday 8th or Tuesday 11th when Delta wants 105,000 SkyMiles. The cost will be 50,000 Virgin Flying Club miles plus $5.60.
Virgin will NOT be able to book you on Sunday 9th, Wednesday 12th, Thursday 13th or Friday 14th when Delta wants 320,000 SkyMiles.
Virgin will NOT be able to book you on Monday 10th, where there is a ‘1 stop’ redemption showing, because the flight connects to Air France in Paris which is not yet a Virgin Flying Club partner
Where does Delta fly to in mainland Europe?
Here is a list, courtesy of clearedlist.net, of Delta’s 2019 schedule to Europe. There are a lot of options here. Routes marked ‘Summer’ generally run from April / May to the end of October. Note that availability will be fairly tight now for Summer 2019.
I have included, for completeness, routes to the UK on this list. However, you only get the $5.60 of taxes option when searching from one-way flights from the US to anywhere except the UK.
Atlanta – Amsterdam, Barcelona (Summer), Brussels, Dublin (Summer), Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, London Heathrow, Madrid, Milan (Summer), Munich, Paris, Rome, Stuttgart, Venice (Summer), Zurich (Summer)
Boston – Amsterdam, Dublin (Summer), Edinburgh (Summer), Lisbon (Summer), London Heathrow, Paris
Cincinnati – Paris
Detroit – Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London Heathrow, Munich (Summer), Paris, Rome (Summer)
Indianapolis – Paris
New York JFK – Amsterdam, Athens (Summer), Barcelona, Berlin (Summer), Brussels, Copenhagen (Summer), Dublin, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Glasgow (Summer), Lisbon (Summer), London Heathrow, Madrid, Malaga (Summer), Milan, Nice (Summer), Paris, Ponta Delgada (Summer), Prague (Summer), Reykjavik, Rome, Shannon (Summer), Venice (Summer), Zurich
Los Angeles – Amsterdam (Summer), Paris
Minneapolis – Amsterdam, London Heathrow, Paris, Reykjavik (Summer)
Orlando – Amsterdam
Portland – Amsterdam, London Heathrow (Summer)
Raleigh-Durham – Paris
Salt Lake City – Amsterdam, London Heathrow (Summer), Paris
Seattle – Amsterdam, Paris
Tampa – Amsterdam
What is Delta Air Lines like in Business Class?
I’m glad you asked. We have a review of Delta’s business class product ready to go and I will get it up in the next few days.
In the meantime, I hope I’ve shown you that Virgin Flying Club miles definitely still DO have value if you are looking to travel to the United States in Business Class – even though it means not flying on Virgin Atlantic!
How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (January 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):
You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.
(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.)