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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.


How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (October 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):

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

15,000 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)

  • ankomonkey says:

    “…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…”

    Does this mean Rob is cashing out his VS stash to one or more of these 3 schemes? 😉

    • Rob says:

      I am planning a test Greggs redemption!

      • David D says:

        It’s easy enough, redeem in the app for your sausage roll or coffee. Rock up to your local Greggs and show the code which the cashier inputs into the till and a free pastry wrapped reconstituted meat log, or hot cup of coffee is yours. Just don’t be ordering 10 as they have to do them all in separate transactions. Assuming the training has been given to all staff in all stores of course.

      • mr_jetlag says:

        Finally!

        “How many sausage rolls does 2m virgin points buy?” competition – Get the Greggs people on this!

        • Dr C says:

          Well it seems:
          5194 breakfast roll meals (Roll + hot drink) or
          6666 sausage rolls or
          6153 hot drinks

          That’s Rob’s breakfast sorted for 14 years!

      • Dr C says:

        Heads up it seems the best deal is a breakfast roll meal for 385 points which includes a roll and a hot drink, especially when considering the drink alone is 325 points!

  • Mark says:

    How do you book internal delta redemptions with virgin miles? Does it have to be done by phone.

    • Rob says:

      No, online works.

      • Mark says:

        Thanks Rob

      • Mark says:

        Is this on the virgin website or delta? when I search for flights from SEA to MCO they cash or reward on delta they show up, but virgin says not available?

        • Rob says:

          Delta shows you ‘cash flights turned to points’ which are not ‘proper’ reward flights. Partners can only book saver awards.

          • Mark says:

            But virgins not even showing cash tickets

          • Nick says:

            @mark, Virgin is not allowed to sell standalone domestic cash flights in the US. Same as BA can’t sell standalone AA cash flights… they don’t have cabotage rights.

  • Graeme says:

    This is a real shame, was such great value. Last year, I coupled a 50k redemption from LAX to CDG in Delta One with a cheap TAP OW J fare (£500!) from DUB to SFO. With positioning flights from EDI, it was under £600 all in.

    Delta hard product was excellent and service pretty good too. We also got escorted from check-in to the front of the security line at LAX through the back offices, which was an experience!

    TAP was just OK but it wasn’t on their latest J product. Was lie flat, however, and food decent but Delta was a step above.

    Don’t think there’s much value at all in other VS redemption options, due to taxes, although CC offers are very good given recent changes allowing rev tickets to be upgraded.

  • Blindman says:

    Don’t think there’s much value at all in other VS redemption options, due to taxes, although CC offers are very good given recent changes allowing rev tickets to be upgraded.

    My One way Air NZ flight RAR to LAX would have been great if only I could have flown it (May 2020)

    Looking to do similar in 2022 .

    TAP
    Are they reliable enough in this pandemic to be trusted ?
    Seen a really cheap flight to Toronto.

    • Graeme says:

      Think worth a concern as TAP were in trouble even before COVID. That said, they are now 72.5% owned by Portuguese govt, who have put together a rescue package. So unlikely to fail completely but may see route changes/cuts. Others on here will know better than me.

      • Nick says:

        TAP is a well-run airline with a niche primary product (Europe to Brazil), new efficient aircraft (321 and 330 neos) and enough reason to maintain govt support (connecting mainland with remote islands). Famous last words of course… but I wouldn’t mind booking them right now. There are plenty of other airlines that would fail before they do.

  • Paul says:

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

    The missing word is YET.

    I got out a couple of months back and moved my miles to Hilton. I will drop the card in next 10 days as there is no justification now for paying £160 or whatever it is now. The lack of access to upper class via the 241 was always a major weakness. Virgins precarious financial position is very concerning and this move demonstrates that loyalty does not work anymore

  • Dr C says:

    Well having done DUB > US on delta I was quit happy with the hard product and redemption value, on return i had a flight to AMS but considering the timings for these flights it meant I would have to stay over an extra night so decided to opt for travelling direct to LHR and save a day messing around. I think the redemptions were good if they suited your travel but as flights available were scarce it wasn’t always the best value

  • pigeon says:

    Surely the decision would be down to Virgin Red Limited, the spun-out company that owns the Virgin points, and they simply saw this as a chance to increase profitability? Surely Virgin Red just pays DL a fixed rate for redemptions, and DL couldn’t care less what Virgin Red’s deal with the customer is?

    The current ex-US points business is presumably selling miles to credit card companies, and this move is designed to get rid of some of their most unprofitable customers?

    • Peter K says:

      You miss the fact that Virgin Atlantic is 49% owned by Delta, so Virgin’s bottom line affects them as well, so I imagine Delta had to be on board, if not the originator of the plan.

    • Rob says:

      Delta owns 49% of Virgin Red too ….

  • Olu says:

    I, my wife and my toddler got caught by this, we had a flight booked one way Delta business ATL – LOS for Jan 1st total cost 125k miles (60k adults + 5k lap infant) we wanted to move it to the 6th cause we were afraid we wouldn’t have gotten all our docs. Called Virgin (which by the way is the new hell cause it takes 2hrs to get through and we were told it’s 130k per adult and I was sure she was mistaken but alas. Long story short we in LOS now cause the increase didn’t make any sense. Virgin also some how messed up the lap infant ticket so was forced to pay for that on the spot at the airport which was fun

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