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No more cheap £4 US to Europe flights on Virgin Points after ‘no notice’ devaluation

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Virgin Atlantic has, with no notice, massively devalued Virgin Flying Club redemptions on US airline (and 49% Virgin shareholder) Delta.

Before we go into this, I want to be clear about one thing. There is no change to the pricing of Virgin Flying Club redemptions on Delta if you are flying from the UK.

Delta and Virgin Atlantic air miles devaluation

Business Class redemptions from the UK to US on Delta remain at 95,000 to 135,000 points off-peak and 115,000 to 155,000 points peak, return.

What Delta flights have been devalued?

This no-notice change impacts you primarily if:

  • you planned to redeem on domestic Delta flights in the US, or
  • you planned to fly from the US to Europe, excluding the UK, to benefit from Delta’s exceptionally low taxes and charge

What is the new Delta redemption pricing?

This (click here) is the Virgin Flying Club page for Delta earning and redeeming.

A new distance-based chart has appeared for all flights which do not involve the UK. This is one-way pricing:

Delta and Virgin Atlantic air miles devaluation

Historically (ie until yesterday), one-way redemptions from the United States to Europe (excluding the UK) on Delta cost just 50,000 Virgin Flying Club points and $6 of tax.  This is for Business Class.

This is no longer the case.

Boston to Amsterdam, for example, would now cost 80,000 Virgin Points + $6 one way. This is an increase of 30,000 Points, based on 3,500 miles flown.

US West Coast changes are even more extreme.

Los Angeles to Paris, one way, used to be 50,000 Virgin Points plus $6. This jumps to a crazy 130,000 Virgin Points plus $6 – and this is just one way, remember.

Whilst not really relevant for UK residents, the pricing jump for Delta flights from the US to Asia is also extreme.

Delta and Virgin Atlantic air miles devaluation

And it gets worse

If you look at the small print in the chart above, you will see that it says:

“Pricing is on a per sector basis”

If you are flying from, say, Salt Lake City to Paris with a Salt Lake City to Los Angeles connection, you need to pay for the domestic leg on top.

This adds an EXTRA 27,500 Points as Salt Lake City to Los Angeles is 590 miles. You add this on top of the 130,000 Points needed for Los Angeles to Paris.

Why has Virgin Atlantic done this?

This was, with 99% certainty, forced on Virgin Atlantic by Delta.

Delta has been doing its best to move to a revenue-based frequent flyer programme in recent years. Virgin Atlantic redemptions were simply looking too cheap compared to Delta’s own programme and compared to what other SkyTeam partners charge.

The reason that flights from the UK to USA on Delta have been untouched is due to competition from Avios, and potentially because these flights attract substantial carrier charges.

Delta and Virgin Atlantic air miles devaluation

Conclusion

These changes are unfortunate, but the bottom line is that few Virgin Flying Club members in the UK will be impacted by this change.

Whilst the one way redemptions from the US to mainland Europe were astonishing value with just $6 of taxes and charges, I doubt many readers booked one.

(That said, I DID book one, twice, so Anika could fly back from the US to her family in Germany. This will be a very expensive favour if I do it again.)

It will hit you if you are redeeming for domestic Delta flights in the US, although some short economy trips are cheaper under this new chart.

Irrespective of all this, the lack of notice by Virgin Flying Club to its members shows a worrying lack of mutual trust and respect. At a time when Virgin’s long term future is still not guaranteed, moves like this will only encourage members to cash out to IHG Rewards Club or Hilton Honors or for a few hundred Greggs sausage rolls whilst the going is good.

Comments (80)

  • Charlieface says:

    The change isn’t so major, the no notice IS major

    • Mikeact says:

      For those that are involved, particularly in the US, these changes are massive.

      • Mikeact says:

        Courtesy TPG ;
        As another example of the price increase, a one-way flight from the U.S. to Asia previously cost 60,000 Virgin Points in Delta One. Now, however, those rates have increased. For example, a one-way flight in Delta One from Atlanta (ATL) to Tokyo (HND) will cost 165,000 Virgin Points.

        For that return ticket, you’re now looking at 330,000 Virgin Points to fly in Delta One. This, as opposed to 120,000 Virgin Points at the old rates. That’s a 175% increase.

        This is a huge devaluation. Not only that, but the devaluation was made without any notice and takes effect immediately.
        And if you need to connect in the US, it’s now also segment based, meaning more points to connect long haul.

      • Charlieface says:

        To rephrase: yes, the changes are big, but they would affect people far less if given notice so they could use up their miles in time. Then it would only affect people wanting to accumulate miles for these awards down the line.

        Now that there is no notice, they are stuck with already accumulated miles.

  • Josh Critchley says:

    The article seems over the top at the end – why get so emotional. Airlines are decimated by CV19 and all these little weases for miles geeks are going to be culled. FFPs are not a marriage so not point whining about breakdown of mutual trust. Suck it up and move on. The reaction to changes they’re entitled to make shows a marked misunderstanding of them. You sign up to the T&Cs and if they allow changes, then quit whining as that’s what you agreed to. If you don’t like it, then move on. For the true frequent flyers this just clears out the dead wood, including all those awful YouTube types. We should celebrate that.

  • Guest says:

    Would you expect any other company to announce that they will be doing price changes …. either up or down? I think its unreasonable to expect any business to do that?

  • cinereus says:

    Not remotely bothered about having to spend a few extra points if the taxes remain low.

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