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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.

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.

Delta and Virgin Atlantic air miles devaluation

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.


HFP Virgin Atlantic Rewards credit card

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (September 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 30,000 Points until 15th October 2021):

Virgin Rewards credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

The UK’s most generous free Visa or Mastercard at 0.75 points / £1 Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review

You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

Until 2nd November 2021, there is a special offer on The Platinum Card from American Express.

You will receive a sign-up bonus of 60,000 Amex points which converts into 60,000 Virgin Points.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Points

(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.)

Comments (79)

  • John says:

    Having clicked through from the (targeted) email invitation last month, and downloaded the new Virgin Points app, I discovered… pretty much nothing aspirational about the Flying Club replacement.

    The Gregg’s sausage rolls redemption really is the only noteworthy addition to the programme. You can also pick up a coffee there, but there’s no sign of the previous earning/2 for 1 offers with Caffe Nero returning.

    Weak stuff.

    • kitten says:

      could you double dip with Airtime Rewards on Greggs?

      The Airtime Rewards might turn out to be worth more .

  • Peter K says:

    This literally was the reason I had been collecting Virgin miles in the past, for a trip to the US but avoiding BA horrendous fees. I cashed out to Hilton early on in this crisis and that decision is looking even better now!

    • Doug M says:

      Don’t know your circumstances Peter but have you considered ex-EU? There’s a good fare right now to many USA destinations from Dublin for £1200. Do it right and this one trip will get you silver for the west coast, and close for the east coast.

      • Harry T says:

        @Peter K
        My last exEU to the US (Boston) cost me just £683 per person in business with BA. I’ve also upgraded us both to F with Avios. So listen to Doug, there are some golden opportunities around. Generally anything around £1000 is decent exEU.

        • Peter K says:

          But that’s £683 + a lot of Avios per person (+potentially the BA premium fee).

    • CheisC says:

      But this does not affect transatlantic flights redemptions.

      • Rob says:

        VS just emailed me to say they messed up the website and it should say ‘transatlantic’ and not UK. Will try to find proof when I escape this waterpark ….

  • John G says:

    Just another reason to abandon any sense of loyalty and just fly the airline that is cheapest/most convenient for whatever journey i need to make. Business class paid fares are likely to be more affordable for the foreseeable future so I think this is the best way forward.

    It is liberating not to limit oneself to a particular airline/alliance just to earn increasingly worthless miles or status. The game used to be fun but has been going downhill since the demise of bmi Diamond Club.

    • Doug M says:

      I never quite understand posts like this. Are you really saying that previously you’d have overpaid for VS because you have loyalty towards them? Loyalty is for friends and family not corporations.

      • Nori says:

        @DougM
        +1well said

      • ChrisC says:

        Yes people do that. Loads if posts through the year asking about tier point runs to earn or maintain a status with a particular airline.

        • The real John says:

          A calculated TP run or paying slightly extra to maintain status for the published benefits is different from blind loyalty.

          • Doug M says:

            Indeed. But that’s not loyalty it’s sensible decision making. I pay £x more the BA flight, but this gives me Gold status because of other flights. The nicer lounge and other advantages of Gold are then yours to determine against the £x. But that’s sensible decision making, not loyalty.

          • Jamie says:

            It really isn’t.

        • Rob says:

          It’s an investment. I pushed money to Marriott to hit 50 nights to get my 5 Suite Night Awards. I expect my modest overpayment vs other hotels to pay off nicely. I may be wrong 🙂

  • Alan says:

    Disappointing although am sure the surfeit of easy credit card points swilling around the US also helped shift them towards this decision – they can’t have been making anything much from those redemptions previously.

    • memesweeper says:

      I’d disagree — they made money every time an American credit card holder transferred their accrued points into virgin’s scheme in order to spend on Delta. US card holders are now much less likely to do such a transfer. This move will likely be cash negative for Virgin.

  • Mikeact says:

    I wondered what was going on the last couple of days. Trying to help my sister in law with her Virgin points. She was going out via Madrid with my Avios and back with her points for $6, but I couldn’t pull up anything . I’m just about to check my KLM stash to see if the same, unannounced, changes apply, as this is a useful way for wife and self to get back to the UK.
    Re. US domestic I always check AA Avios viz Delta KL, as well as cash. It seems that generally now, AA Avios will be the winner.

  • Jessiefan says:

    Yeh I checked this last week and noticed the one way reward flights from Atlanta to Edinburgh via Paris were 130,000 in Delta One, but to be fair the taxes were ridiculous. I currently have a one-way ATL_PCG_EDI in April for 75000 + £19 taxes. Looks like I may have to change that unless there’s a miraculous drop in Covid

    • Jessiefan says:

      Supplementary on that – if I have to change, do I change flights through Delta, or through Virgin as I booked on virginatlantic.com with Virgin miles?? Also I’m guessing I’ll be liable for the increased price if I move from April to June?

      • Olu says:

        You change through virgin and yup you would have to cough up the diff.
        Virgin is at least an hour wait by phone these days, good luck.

  • kitten says:

    Just removed the last reason for considering keeping Virgin points

    Just wondering does this mean AF/KL points also not worth collecting for use on one ways from US to Eu/UK that could also include DL flights.

  • Novice says:

    This is the reason I book flights depending on my convenience and usually cash. I do end up with miles accumulation on trips because I am a member of each alliance but I have noticed that redemption of points/miles is very rarely dictated by the person’s own choice and usually the person is trying to get dictated by the airlines what they should be doing if they try to use their stash. And, tbh I don’t like being dictated or wasting my precious time.

    The way I collect and redeem is basically; make my mind up where I’m going, check cash flights, ask my TA for flight prices then finally check if there is any miles/points availability which is usually never. It’s rare for me to ever find the flight I require.

    So, it all seems pointless. It would only be a good system if you were guaranteed a miles/points seat. I’m aware ppl snap them up a year out at midnight here but I find that absolutely sad.

    Happy New Year Everyone!

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