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Partner airlines were spared the brunt of this, and Delta still worked to an (unpublished) chart.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.
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.)