How to use Virgin Atlantic miles to fly USA-Europe in Business for just £4 of tax!

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On Saturday we covered the slightly shocking news that Virgin Atlantic has hiked the taxes and charges on Virgin Flying Club miles redemptions to the United States in Upper Class to £764 return.

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):

Redeem Virgin miles on Delta

Los Angeles to Paris (click to enlarge):

Redeem Virgin Atlantic miles on Delta

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:

Redeeming Virgin miles on Delta flights to Europe

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:

Redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles on Delta flights

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 Atlantic miles from UK credit cards

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

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Flying Club miles.  That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles?  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.)

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Comments

  1. Thanks for this. Is there any similar deal in economy?

    • Alex W says:

      I have done a search for you. BOS-AMS comes up as 30000 miles plus $5.60 in economy.

      On the same date you could fly BOS-LGW via Lisbon on TAP for £103 cash one way. This makes the redemption look very poor value.

  2. I assume you cannot use virgin 2-4-1 on delta flights?

  3. Alan Young says:

    You mention BOS – DUB is that also 4 quid taxes. Also is it a good deal in economy with the mileage etc

    • Not sure about this partcular deal but we flew NY on Virgin last year and Delta back. The taxes for economy on Delta were £50 per person less BUT you did need to use 5000 extra miles on the Delta flight.

    • A quick search of the Delta website shows $5.60 in taxes on Boston to Dublin.

  4. Rob – what’s the follow up to the increase in YQ.

    Have VS PR been in touch to confirm its real and not a cluster F by IT?

    Or are they lying low hoping it’ll all blow over and folks will be ignorant & pay it?

    • +1

      have you actually asked Virgin to respond ?

      considering how much contact you have with Virgin, it seems really weird that you don’t have any comment / “no comment” from them.

    • No word yet! Although it is only 10am ….

    • I suspect very much a case of the latter, although did find it interesting that the call centre said they’d had lots of comments/complaints about it!

  5. Gromit says:

    It is inaccurate to generically describe the arbitrary cash payment required by airlines on reward flights as ‘tax’ of course, though I’m sure it suits the airlines if everyone carries on thinking of it that way.

    In many (most….?) cases the genuine taxes and security fees etc are much more modest than the cash payment required and it seems to me the rest is mainly just a ‘because we can get away with it’ levy by the airline.

  6. OT Tesco Mobile offer

    I ordered the free sims from the tesco mobile website
    Bought a £20 top up voucher from a tesco store

    Opened sim, made a test outgoing call and incoming calls. confirmed still had the 20p credit on the sims.

    called 282 and gave my club card number.

    Then called 4444 to add the £20 top-up.

    Never got any texts referring to 2000 clubcard points. and 5 days later, only saw 20 points appearing on my tesco activity statement?

    What’s wrong? any missing steps?

    Do I need to manually convert the £20 credit, to a rocket pack -or is this automatic?

    • Although I manually purchased Rocket Packs with the £20 credit, I understood it would happen automatically based on the content of a couple of text messages received once I had topped up.

      In general, it seems to be taking c. 9 days for bonus points to credit to accounts after Rocket Packs have been purchased.

    • not automatic, you need to use the credit to buy a rocket pack

      • I’ve just found the text I received after topping up my account with £20

        “We’re just adding your Rocket Pack & it’ll be ready for you to use in the next 2 hours. We’ll let you know when it is.”

        • Yes, I got this text.

          Also saw some notes that with these specific sim cards, your first top will automatically convert to a rocket pack.

          My question really is – now that I can see just 20 points on my tesco activity, will another 1980/2000 points arrive as a bonus sometime this week?

        • Spurs Debs says:

          I’m also missing 2000 points went thru fine first time and on my other account, I’m going to ring them.

    • On my first one the extra 2000 appeared 6 days after the 20 points. Hopefully another 2000 will appear in a couple of days. If you download the Tesco PAYG app it should show whether you have a Rocket Pack or not?

      • Cheers!

        If a £20 up can be exchanged for 60 of uber or hotels.com – is it worth going wild on this offer? (assuming have multiple club-card accounts etc)

        • Yes, if there are two people in your household each with their own account. You can get £240 worth of credit for £80 spend. Saving 66.67%. I consider that a great deal. And there is a degree of flexibility as you can exchange for Avios/Virgin/hotels.com/Uber.

        • can my family collect the Clubcard points on their own account, and then redeem them for Avios/virgin points to be credited to my BAEC/VS account?

    • Peter K says:

      It took exactly 9 days for the bonus points to credit to my account.

      • Yes, all mine took exactly 9 days. No problems so far using process Nick outlined in OP. Expecting 5 x 3k tomorrow. Will post a comment if they arrive as usual or if problems encountered.

    • Mr Dee says:

      If you ordered the rocket sim then once you add your Clubcard and a £20 voucher, you should get confirmation texts and it should purchase automatically, don’t see there being an option to manually purchase it.

  7. OT: I’m flying BA in Club World from LHR to NRT on 9th May. I still can’t choose a meal, it just says “You will be served complimentary food and drinks on-board. Unfortunately, ordering your meal in advance is not available for this flight.”
    Previously I’ve been able to order pretty much 30 days before, it’s now 24 days to my flight. Anyone experienced this before? Is it just BA being a bit slow to load choices?

    • I had that flying to SIN in 1st – YouFirst eventually sorted it once they worked out that preordering was even a ‘thing’! TBH compared to the likes of SQ I think BA haven’t implemented this option particularly well so would not be surprised if it wasn’t working properly.

  8. LAX – AMS is sensational value.
    I’ve never chased Virgin miles but anyone could get 50k in fairly short order and it illustrates the usefulness of keeping MR points in that form rather than just transferring to Airmiles.

    • A possibility and perhaps it would make sense for some to buy miles with a Virgin card when they offer a purchase miles bonus.

  9. Lev441 says:

    Flew delta one a couple months back for the first time. There was no availability at the time to European destinations but it was £100 cheaper than using virgin (using miles) so I gave it a go…

    I much preferred the seat and the staff were amazing… food I wasn’t actually that keen on but I ate plenty in the clubhouse before and also at the arrivals lounge so I maximised my sleep time on the plane.

    • Agreed. We’ve done 3 Delta One flights and enjoyed them all. The only downsides were that we had to move from the JFK Clubhouse to a Delta lounge as our Delta flight was an hour after the final VS of the day, and their serving of spirits from miniatures feels a bit mean (although they do keep them coming if you want them).

      The main courses of the meals were pretty airline standard, but they do feed you well with starters and desserts… 🙂

  10. LewisB says:

    OT no bits: Has anyone used the Executive Club Multi-currency Cash Passport™ that’s being offered on BAEC?

    Collect one Avios for every £1 loaded or reloaded onto the card (minimum £50 spend).
    A safe, convenient way to manage your travel money.
    A reloadable, pre-paid currency card from MasterCard®.
    Holds up to 10 global currencies.
    Top up anywhere in the world online, over the phone or at a bank

    https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/executive-club/collecting-avios/travel-extras

    • Has been there for years and remains as rubbish as it was ever was – worse, actually, given the other options now available (Revolut, WeSwap etc). This was our last article on the Avios version- https://www.headforpoints.com/2017/11/17/is-the-avios-multi-currency-cash-passport-worth-a-look/

      • stevenhp1987 says:

        Can you add this card to Curve? I know they accept some prepaid cards not on their FAQ.

        If it does then you could upload funds, in say Euros… Set card to Euro in Curve and pay with Curve for Avios from a non-Amex card.

        Yes potentially you could lose with foreign exchange depending on the rates used…

    • The Urbanite says:

      I have one and agree it is poor due to the load fee. However, on occasion it can be fully offset which then makes it worth using. It spends most of the time in the sock drawer.

  11. Totally OT
    Got a Uber credit via Tesco CC Cant get it to work Shows as Uber credit but get error when requesting ride it says payment method not allowed.

    Any ideas

    • Are you using it in the UK?

      • Yes it works if I reset to credit card. Uber CS have been useless.

        • But you only need to have it set to credit card and in the UK it automatically deducts from the credit balance (at least it does for me, I’ve never tried to manually select it)

    • worked for me last month !

      • Brian Stevens says:

        I had this problem earlier this month. It seems that if the estimate of trip is above the credit balance, it won’t let you use credit. So I had to book using a credit card, in the end the trip was less than the credit on the account and it debited the credit not the credit card.

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