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If you’re looking for a roomier way to fly across the Atlantic, you now have another option using SkyMiles. Delta announced yesterday that — effective immediately — you can now use its miles to book award flights in Virgin Atlantic’s premium economy cabin.
While there was no mention of the award mileage rate in the announcement, we can now see online that these seats are priced at 55,000 SkyMiles each way between the US and Europe. This compares to 30,000 SkyMiles each way in economy and Delta’s new 70k SkyMiles rate for partner business class.
In order to sell you on Virgin Atlantic’s premium economy seat, Delta mentions the following perks:
- Roomy leather seating with in-seat power so you can stay connected
- Priority boarding and a dedicated check-in
- An upgraded dining experience including access to Virgin Atlantic’s Wander Wall snack gallery
- A premium economy amenity kit on night flights
The seats are up to 21 inches wide (vs 17.5 inches in economy) and provide 38 inches of pitch (vs 31 inches in economy). While Virgin Atlantic’s 787 Dreamliners have power ports throughout the plane, its older aircraft don’t have power in economy. If you need to stay powered up, you’re going to need to do so in premium economy.
Also, your options for booking Virgin Atlantic premium economy with SkyMiles are fairly wide open. Most dates that we checked will allow you to book each transatlantic flight for 55,000 SkyMiles. If you’re in a rush to reserve these flights, you’re limited to booking these through Delta.com. You’ll have to wait until this Thursday (December 1) to book flights over the phone.
And, no need to worry about routing through certain cities or aircraft to find Virgin Atlantic’s premium economy product; Premium economy is installed on all of the airline’s long-haul jets. Only the Virgin Atlantic Airbus A320 doesn’t have a premium economy cabin.
Is It Worth It?
In short: No, it’s generally not going to be worth using SkyMiles this way. Virgin Atlantic’s premium economy will set you back 110,000 SkyMiles round-trip. Meanwhile, flights from New York (JFK or EWR) to London (LHR) are just $797 round-trip this spring or $834 round-trip in peak summer travel. Premium economy flights between Boston (BOS) and London (LHR) are currently even cheaper at $747 round-trip in the spring and $800 round-trip in the summer.
After factoring in a whopping $261 in taxes and fees, you end up with a miserable 0.44 to 0.52 cents per mile redemption rate for these routes — well under TPG’s valuation of 1.2 cents per mile.
With that said, if you need a one-way to Europe in a somewhat-premium cabin, paying just 55,000 SkyMiles plus $5.60 for the one-way flight might be a decent redemption.
Delta currently only offers partner awards at the lowest level of its nonexistent award chart. So, this strongly indicates that Delta’s upcoming “Premium Select” premium economy seats will also price at 55,000 SkyMiles each way between the US and Europe.
Compared to Delta’s lowest rate of 30k miles for economy and 70k miles for business class, pricing Premium Select at 55k SkyMiles each way is rather laughable. That means you’d be paying 25k SkyMiles more than economy each way to get a bit more legroom and an amenity kit. If you need legroom that badly, you’d be much better off redeeming 15k more each way to get a lie-flat bed in Delta One.
While it’s always nice to have more options for using your miles and points, this new option from Delta doesn’t seem especially worthwhile. At 55,000 SkyMiles each way, redeeming SkyMiles for Virgin Atlantic’s premium economy or Delta’s forthcoming Premium Select doesn’t offer much value.
H/T: Rene’s Points
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