Did Virgin Atlantic just take away their great new feature?

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UPDATE 10/11/17: The feature is working again!  See this post for details.


Yesterday I posted “Wow, Book Delta with Virgin Atlantic miles online!”  I was excited because it was finally possible to book Delta flights with Virgin Atlantic miles online, often with great award prices.  This enhancement makes Virgin Atlantic miles much more usable for those of us in the US.

But this morning a couple of readers commented that they couldn’t get the feature to work.  So, I tried to replicate my results from yesterday. I tried the website, then I tried the Virgin Atlantic app.  No dice either way.  No matter what I tried, I got error messages saying that their were no scheduled Virgin Atlantic or Partner flights on that route, like this:

Or, on some routes the system found flights, but only on Virgin Atlantic.  At the time of this writing, I can’t get the website to bring up Delta flights at all.

Theories

On September 1, Virgin Atlantic is introducing new (mostly worse) award pricing for Delta flights (details can be found here).  One theory I have is that they meant to introduce online booking along with these changes.  Maybe the feature will reappear on September 1.

Another possibility is that this is simply a bug.  Maybe they uploaded a software patch and broke the ability to book Delta awards.  If so, hopefully it will be fixed soon!

A third possibility is that they realized that partner award booking was buggy (it definitely was) and so they took it down until they could fix it.

Of course a pessimistic possibility is that they don’t want to provide this functionality online at all and so it is now gone forever.  This seems very unlikely to me.  Somebody had to have taken the time to build the feature in the first place, after all.

Conclusion

At the time of this writing, it isn’t possible to book Delta awards with Virgin Atlantic miles through the Virgin Atlantic website (you can still call to book those awards though).  That said, it wouldn’t surprise me to find the feature working again ten minutes from now or at least within a few days.  If my September 1 theory is correct, though, we’ll have to wait 4 weeks to see the feature again.

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