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Reprieve? Virgin tells HfP its website does not accurately reflect changes to Delta redemptions

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Yesterday we told you how Virgin Atlantic’s website is now showing substantial increases to the points required for Delta Air Lines flight redemptions, with the exception of flights to and from the UK.

It seemed that many low tax sweet spots were now ludicrously expensive. Based on Virgin’s own figures, a one-way flight from Los Angeles to Paris would jump from 50,000 miles + $6 in Business Class to a crazy 130,000 miles + $6.

It may not be as bad as we think

As you can see from the Virgin Atlantic website here, on their Delta page, you have the old table – which is clearly from ‘to/from the UK’ – and then this new and painful distance based table for everywhere else:

Yesterday afternoon, however, I was contacted by the Virgin Atlantic press office.

It said, in effect, that the Virgin Atlantic website was wrong.

The new pricing is not meant to apply to any flights covered by the Virgin Atlantic / KLM / Air France / Delta transatlantic joint venture.

What does this mean?

As we always knew, the new pricing above does not apply to flights between the USA and UK.

However, it will also not apply to ANY flights between the USA and Europe on routes covered by the transatlantic joint venture, which may well be all of them.

Are you saying that Los Angeles to Paris will go back to 50,000 miles each way in Business Class?

Not necessarily. I was initially told that all transatlantic reward pricing would remain as it was, ie 50,000 miles each way in Business Class / Delta One.

.A couple of hours later, I received another more detailed email which said:

“With regards to US-Europe flights, we are still finalising the details on the pricing on these routes and the website does not currently reflect the final prices. This will be updated early next week and we will be in contact with clarification.”

This implies that Los Angeles to Paris will not necessarily go back to 50,000 miles one way, but won’t be 130,000 miles one way either.

And there is another catch …..

Wherever transatlantic pricing ends up, it will only apply to point-to-point flights.

If you add a domestic connection on Delta, your entire trip will price off the new chart above. You really don’t want that to happen, especially as connections are priced separately and added to the total points cost.

Where will the new Delta pricing apply?

The new Delta reward chart WILL apply to:

  • domestic flights on Delta inside the USA
  • international flights on Delta from the USA which do not cross the Atlantic

Some domestic redemptions will become cheaper under this new structure. The cheapest one-way economy flight will drop from 12,500 points to 7,500 points and no domestic economy flight of any length will be more expensive.

In business class, short flights of under 500 miles drop from 22,500 points to 17,500 points one way. It isn’t all bad news.

Conclusion

It is possible that the changes to pricing on Virgin Atlantic transatlantic redemptions will not be as bad as we assumed. We will have to wait until next week to see for certain.

The whole thing has been badly managed. There were a huge number of negative media stories about Virgin Points yesterday – ours was quite mild, because the UK routes were not touched – which could have been mitigated. It would be interesting to know what Virgin Red, which now owns and controls the Virgin Points currency, thinks about having their product vilified due to the actions of the airline.


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 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 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 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 (21)

  • Baji Nahid says:

    Rob I believe it was yourself or someone else on the form that stated that Delta would be the most likely one behind this change. And it does make sense saying so. However would this improve VS’s cash flow? Or would delta profiteer from the non transatlantic destinations?

    • Rob says:

      There is probably a slight improvement to Virgin Red cashflow, since I assume it still pays Delta the same for the flights. It makes no difference to the airline.

    • Mikeact says:

      It is pretty obvious to me that Delta dropped this on Virgin at very short notice with little or no discussion .

    • Michael says:

      I see it more as Delta wanting to keep the US-side miles issuing business to itself by closing sweet spots in the VS programme. The VS programme is directed towards the UK market so as Rob says, these changes don’t have a huge effect on the core UK market apart from those trying to evade the carrier charges on ex-UK redemptions. The changes make VS points less attractive for USA based members wanting to use them for a cheap redemption on DL.

      It’s simply market segmentation, while part of the points and Miles game is exploiting sweet spots due to this market segmentation before they get noticed.

  • Charlieface says:

    Where do you get it from that the transatlantic pricing is only P2P? As the JV itself will presumably cover all North America to Europe flights including connections

    • Rob says:

      I have it in writing from VS.

      • Mikeact says:

        Rob…having it in writing from Virgin doesn’t mean a lot in the current climate, even though connections will cost more undoubtedly.

    • Mikeact says:

      Definitely not connections as of this morning….looking at detail on Delta’s site, which has to be far more reliable than Virgins.

  • Jan M says:

    Question about travel to Germany. I need a PCR or antigen test before departure. A PCR test is logistically impractical , but “Antigen tests must meet certain quality standards.” Does anyone know if the antigen test offered at Heathrow meets that standard? And any advice for how early to arrive? I see results only take 45 minutes?

  • insider says:

    Pretty poorly managed. Especially VS telling you that what you published wasn’t correct but not being able to tell you what is correct…

    • Dude26 says:

      Exactly. “We made a mistake. Please stand by for our next one”.

  • TravelBloggerBuzz says:

    Very interesting development. Mismanaged airlines seems to be a global phenomenon 🙂

  • ChrisW says:

    If they increase 50% from the existing rates (i.e. 75k one way) it will still be a decent deal.

    The 50k rate was unsustainable

  • AndyGWP says:

    I plan to investigate properly later, but does anyone know what the cancellation costs are for Virgin redemption bookings (for a booking on Delta…. specifically for a US domestic flight) where the taxes amount to $6

    Is it a full points refund, but they keep the $6?

    • AndyGWP says:

      Assume it falls under the Flying Club T&C’s @ https://www.virginatlantic.com/gb/en/footer/terms-and-conditions/flying-club.html , therefore I the following probably applies…

      I wanted to do a redemption for flexibility, but the $50 charge to cancel tips it into being unviable (unless its as per Avios, and in reality they would just keep the $6?)

      4.2. VAA Flight Rewards

      4.2.1, Second paragraph:
      Once tickets for a Rewards booking are issued, no name changes are allowed. If for any reason a flight Reward is cancelled by the Member outside 24 hours of departure, 100% of the Virgin Points will be re-credited to the Member’s account.

      A cancellation fee of £30 for changes to flights originating in the UK, US$50 for changes to flights originating in the US or local currency equivalent of US$50 for changes to flights originating in any other region will apply.

    • philco says:

      Currently as in COVID times they appear to be issuing full refunds of taxes, fees and points even when the passenger cancels. I have made a number of proactive cancellations for speculative bookings and everything has been refunded even though their terms fully given them the right to subtract the relatively nominal cancellation fee from my tax/fees refund. At least that is what was happening in late 2020.

  • pigeon says:

    The fuel surcharges on VS ex-USA are insane. $1,438 for a New York to London return, and then there are the taxes on top, so over $1700 total. At that price point, it’s not far from a sale fare, and they’re effectively shutting down their US points business.

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