Bet You Didn’t Know: Tricks to using Virgin Atlantic miles to fly Delta

By Julian, author of Devil’s Advocate

 

It’s fascinating to me that so many airlines have decided it’s fair to promote a “free” ticket loyalty program and then turn around and charge several hundred dollars in fuel surcharges for one of those “free” tickets. It almost seems like… well, lying. Is that too harsh? How about we’ll call it an “inadvertently fortuitous untruth?”

Here’s a case in point: Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles are practically worthless thanks to Virgin’s incredibly high fuel surcharges.  (Is “worthless” too harsh too? OK, let’s say they’re “tremendously value challenged.”)

But fortunately there are a few lesser-known uses for Flying Club miles, one of which is redeeming them for Delta tickets without the fuel surcharges.

Virgin Atlantic has a specific chart for using their miles on Delta:

virgin atlantic flying club delta awards

There are definitely some advantages to be had in this chart, such as domestic business class at 45,000 miles roundtrip (versus 50,000 on Delta’s chart), or 100,000 miles for business class from the U.S. to Europe (and only 90,000 from major East Coast cities to London). Also, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are transferable to Virgin Atlantic, so this opens up a way to book Delta flights with UR points.

Now, it’s important to note a few major downsides. First, there must be Saver availability on Delta for Virgin Atlantic to be able to book the seat. Standard award space won’t cut it. As we all know, searching for Saver space on Delta can be loads o’ fun, but sometimes you get lucky.

Virgin also doesn’t allow one-way redemptions and you can’t book partner awards online — you have to call them. This is annoying, but the agents are pleasant and the hold times are nowhere near as awful as their brethren at British Airways who believe they are guarding the gold of Gringotts whenever they answer the phone.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Delta

So that’s the bad news. But let’s say you’ve found Delta Saver availability for an upcoming trip. Here’s a little tip to booking the award via Virgin…

In my experience, Virgin agents only report nonstop availability, so if you’ve found a flight from Los Angeles to LaGuardia with a change in Minneapolis, you can’t simply ask the agent to book you from LAX to NYC. You have to tell the Virgin agent that you want to stop in that specific city for any itineraries with connections. Otherwise, they won’t find the flights you want. Better yet, give them exact flight numbers if the agent is willing to look up your flights that way.

This method of booking Delta awards is not for everyone, but for those folks with a pile of Flying Club miles or Ultimate Rewards points, it could be an easy way to get a great redemption.

Did you know how to use Virgin Atlantic miles to fly on Delta?

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Find all the “Bet You Didn’t Know” posts here.

About Devils Advocate

The Devil's Advocate learned the ins and outs of travel loyalty programs while flying more than 200,000 miles a year as a TV producer and director for World Wrestling Entertainment (and yes, of course it’s all real). He now splits his time between New York and Los Angeles and loathes New York winters only slightly less than Los Angeles traffic.

More articles by Devils Advocate »

Pingbacks

  1. […] Overall, Virgin Atlantic miles aren’t the most valuable in the world, but there are a few really good uses for them.  One good option is to use the miles to book flights to the United Kingdom.  Another good use: Delta awards.  Virgin Atlantic has better award prices than Delta for some routes such as only 100K miles round trip between the US and Europe (and only 90K for certain routes). See: Bet You Didn’t Know: Tricks to using Virgin Atlantic miles to fly Delta. […]

  2. […] Virgin Atlantic is often not a good value at all. In addition to expensive redemptions, they also include fuel surcharges with each award.  That said, award availability is often pretty good.  Economy flights have reduced fuel surcharges, so they can be a good value.  There are also times where it makes sense to use Virgin Atlantic miles for Delta flights.  See: Bet You Didn’t Know: Tricks to using Virgin Atlantic miles to fly Delta. […]

Comments

  1. Great tip Greg. Efficient redemption for awards is the other side of the equation for the Points/Miles game. With this trick I can do direct flights to S. America for 20k less than UA and 10k less than SG that’s saves me 1-2 shopping trips 🙂

  2. Even with giving flight numbers there are many DL flights that VS reps say DL does not let them book. Mostly to smaller airports. No idea why. Also, you have to book 3 days in advance or more.

  3. I booked a one way economy award UK to USA on Virg Atl nonstop using Virg Atl miles (transferred from AmEx) a month or so ago. There was a sale on the number of miles needed but I had no trouble booking a one way award for 1/2 the round trip miles. Is that award no longer available?

  4. The “Who dares to call my phone?” graphic and reference to Gringotts made me laugh out loud. Great info too. Happy that Julian is writing on FM now – looking forward to reading more 🙂

  5. Pep boys and Mr. Tire will fix your flat tire for “free”. But then you are forced to pay $10 to unnecessarily balance it.
    Good post. Nice if you answered your emails.

  6. You claim that booking Delta flights using Virgin Atlantic points (booking with VA) avoids taxes/fuel surcharges. This is not what I’ve just been told (August 2015), apparently the charges payable in both cases are roughly the same – as a lot of them are not costs that VA can control (or so they claim).

    Has anyone recently done a Delta with VA redemption and managed to dodge the taxes?

    Also worth noting that they would only redeem for direct Delta flights, if there is any transfer then each hop would be redeemed independently, which makes it expensive in both points and tax terms.

  7. This has rapidly become a frustrating experience. I’ve got just over 20k miles with flying club, with minimal chance of accruing more anytime soon as I a.) don’t find myself flying through London a lot and b.) don’t really fly Delta either. Despite that, I’d love to be able to use these to do a round trip flight to Chicago. Delta’s website is asking for a scant 20K miles, whereas the “chart” on Virgin Atlantic implies that the same trip would be 25K. Is there a way to skirt this?

  8. Great article!

    I was going to try to use this for a flight that appears to have “lowest level” roundtrip availability BOS-SEA on Delta in First Class (65,000 pp roundtrip). But when I call Virgin Atlantic they don’t see any award seats available on these flights. Similarly, I don’t see any space available on these flights when I do an award search on Alaska’s site.

    I guess with Delta not publishing an award chart anymore it’s hard to say what qualifies as saver level and thus is available to partners, but what’s the deal? They sometimes have lowest level availability for award bookings using Delta miles that’s not available for partner bookings?

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    The article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to book mark your site and keep checking
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