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Bits: shocking Delta price rises for Virgin redemptions, 3-month free trial of Amazon Music Unlimited, pics of cargo converted BA 777

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News in brief:

Shocking Delta price rises for Virgin Atlantic redemptions

Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic’s 51% shareholder, has been leading the way in attempting to wean the world off frequent flyer schemes.

A number of years ago it stopped publishing redemption charts online (something BA has also done, although we still publish them) and then started randomly moving mileage requirements to follow cash prices.

It is, cut by cut, trying to make 1 mile = 1 cent of flight value, based on cash prices. Why it wants to do this I don’t know, since once it become clear that you can’t do better than that, there is no reason to earn miles via credit cards given that the US has numerous 2% cashback cards.

Partner airlines were spared the brunt of this, and Delta still worked to an (unpublished) chart. One-way Virgin Atlantic Upper Class flights to the UK were 86,000 miles whilst flights on Air France and KLM were 75,000 miles.

Last week, Delta made some massive increases:

One-way flights booked 60+ days in advance rose to 95,000 miles

Flights booked 21-60 days before departure rose to 170,000 miles (that’s 340,000 miles return!)

Flights booked less than 21 days before departure rose to 195,000 miles (that’s 390,000 miles return!)

Whilst Delta is a 1:1 American Express Membership Rewards partner and points transfer INSTANTLY, it is now difficult to see where you will get much value from their miles on partner airlines.

The only upside is that taxes are low or non-existant using Delta SkyMiles which MIGHT offset the huge mileage premium if you book over 2 months in advance:

a one-way in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class from New York to Heathrow is 95,000 Delta SkyMiles – assuming you book 60+ days in advance – plus $24 of taxes and charges

using Virgin Points, the same flight costs 47,500 Points off-peak but taxes and charges one-way total $725!

(Note that Virgin Atlantic has substantially lower taxes and charges if your journey starts in the UK. Ignore the scary $725 one-way number above! Like BA, it takes advantage of US residents by massively inflating the taxes and charges they pay for trips which start there. A return reward flight in Upper Class from the UK to US on Virgin Points has taxes and charges of £569.)

Looking at these numbers, you could make a case that the Delta option still has value if you book well in advance. This could be the case if you are transferring American Express Membership Rewards points and have the choice of either Delta SkyMiles or Virgin Flying Club to book the same flight STARTING IN THE US.

For flights starting in the UK, the lower Virgin Atlantic taxes and charges means that Virgin Atlantic is likely to remain the best deal.

Amazon Music 3-month free trial!

Amazon Music Unlimited offering 3-month free trial

Amazon Music Unlimited is offering a 3-month free trial for a limited period as long as you sign up via this link.

This gives you full access to the Amazon Music Unlimited library of 50 million songs, which is on a par with what you get via Spotify or Apple Music.  We subscribe to this ourselves – my son has it linked to his Echo Dot whilst we have a Sonos One (2nd Gen) which sits in our kitchen.

You can also run it off your mobile phone via the Amazon Music app, or any other Alexa-controlled device.

This is totally off-topic, I admit, except for the fact that I use it myself and I think you may appreciate it if you’re stuck at home.

After three months your subscription auto-renews at £9.99 per month (£7.99 per month for Prime members).  Nothing stops you cancelling as soon as you’ve signed up to ensure that you don’t accidentally end up paying – you will still get the three free months, and if you like the service you can easily reverse the cancellation.

The offer is only available to new customers who have not had a trial of, or signed up for, Amazon Music Unlimited in the past.

The link to sign up is here.

British Airways 777 cargo interior

A British Airways 777-200 stripped for cargo

Finally, a BA staffer sent us a couple of pictures of a British Airways Boeing 777-200 which has been converted for cargo use.

First Class remains in place but all other seating has been removed. When empty, it looks like the picture above. When filled, it looks like this, which you must admit feels a little weird.

British Airways 777 cargo

Comments (37)

  • Jack says:

    Yeah even my Apple Card has 2% cash back when you use Apple Pay aka contactless. I have a Blue Delta Amex but there isn’t much point spending on it unless you have good bonus categories (I think worldwide restaurants ATM is 3 miles/$1).

  • Dev says:

    cargo only flights are a good jolly for cabin crew … they are needed as the main cabins do not have any fire suppression systems!

    • ChrisW says:

      Especially with F seats to lounge about in during the flight! They must be the holy grail of crewing flights right now!

  • cinereus says:

    I have absolutely no idea how people survive using things like Spotify and Amazon music. I find at least a dozen tracks missing from their catalogues every day which ends up just being a huge waste of time.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      At least with Spotify, the trick is to let it decide what you listen to – i.e. more like radio. Their machine learning is exceptional and after a short while picking things out manually it will just get on with playing music that you like.

  • Gringo says:

    I can’t believe that no-one’s commented on how this looks like WT feels.

  • Julian says:

    So presumably BA is substantially undercutting the prices charged by the aircraft of freight airlines like UPS and DHL?

    Surely that must be the case as COVID, face mask wearing and/or harsher lockdowns at home mean less stuff in total being bought and needing to move around the world than before so I can’t see how BA or other passenger airlines manage to acquire freight unless they charge significantly less than the normal freight airlines?

    • Bagoly says:

      But on many routes, passenger flights carry material amounts of cargo in the hold.
      So if airlines are running a quarter as many flights on a particular route and using the passenger cabin increases the capacity fourfold (illustrative number only) then capacity is the same as before.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Yes exactly. Less flights means less capacity and even though cargo requirements might be marginally lower the drop in capacity has increased the price.

  • marcw says:

    Or you use FlyingBlue miles to redeem on Virgin.

  • BlueThroughCrimp says:

    Thought Delta was a 49% shareholder as it was the maximum they were allowed?