Forget SkyMiles: Here’s how to book Delta One Suites to Europe for just 39,000 points
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One of TPG’s favorite ways to book Delta award flights is through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Not only are the rates generally much cheaper than using Delta SkyMiles, but Flying Club is also a transfer partner of most major transferable points currencies — making it easy to accumulate miles from different sources for these cheap redemptions.
To make it even better, now through Dec. 28, 2019, American Express and Virgin Atlantic are teaming up to offer a 30% transfer bonus when transferring Membership Rewards points to Flying Club miles. This opens a great sweet spot: transatlantic business-class flights for just 39,000 Membership Rewards points each way.
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For reference, Delta now charges at least 82,000 SkyMiles for business class on routes between the U.S. and Europe. United MileagePlus charges 60,000 miles one-way in business class on its own aircraft or 70,000 one-way on partners. American Airlines AAdvantage charges 57,500 miles one-way between the U.S. and Europe.
So, being able to pay just 50,000 Flying Club miles is pretty spectacular, and it’s even better to pay just 39,000 Membership Rewards points for a business-class award flight.
Interested in visiting Japan instead? You can use this same Flying Club-Delta partnership to get cheap awards during the transfer bonus. However, there’s an even-better option: Flying Club’s partnership with ANA which lets you score round-trip award flights between U.S. and Japan from 54,000 Membership Rewards points in business class or 70,000 points for first class.
While Delta has some good business-class products on its A330s and not-yet-retrofit 777s, the best way to fly Delta business class is in its new Delta One Suites. Currently, you have four route options to fly this product across the Atlantic:
- Detroit (DTW)-Amsterdam (AMS) on Delta’s Airbus A350
- Los Angeles (LAX)-Paris (CDG) on Delta’s retrofit 777-200
- Boston (BOS)-London Heathrow (LHR) on Delta’s retrofit 767-400ER
- New York-JFK-London Heathrow (LHR) on Delta’s retrofit 767-400ER
And there are four more routes that will soon start using a Delta One Suites aircraft:
- Atlanta (ATL)-Paris (CDG) on Delta’s retrofit 777-200 starting March 29, 2020
- Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP)-Amsterdam (AMS) on Delta’s Airbus A350 starting March 29, 2020
- New York-JFK-Nice (NCE) on Delta’s retrofit 767-400ER starting April 2, 2020
- Atlanta (ATL)-Amsterdam (AMS) on Delta’s retrofit 777-200 from April 8-15 and then starting May 1, 2020
Are you sold on booking this? If so, you’re going to need a few tips on how to do so. Let’s go step by step on how you can find and book these amazing awards.
Sign up for a Virgin Atlantic Flying Club account
First, in order to book these awards, you’re going to need a Virgin Atlantic Flying Club account. Click here to sign up if you don’t already have an account.
How to search award availability
Before you move any points to Virgin Atlantic, you’re going to want to search award availability and confirm you can book something that works with your travel plans.
Unfortunately, Virgin Atlantic doesn’t make it easy for you to search routes it doesn’t operate. When you enter a U.S. airport for the departure airport and some European airports in the destination, the “miles” option isn’t available to be selected:
I’ve found better luck starting my mileage search on this page. However, the “Pay With Miles” option may still be greyed out with an error saying “This route is not eligible for miles or miles plus money payment.”
I’ve found that the workaround here is to do a dummy award search for a flight that Virgin Atlantic operates (i.e. Atlanta-London). Then, select that recent search from the drop-down box and change the airports to your desired route. The Pay With Miles option may remain selected.
Before you start searching, it’s important to note that availability is going to be very hard to find on some Delta One Suite routes. However, if you have flexible enough dates, there are usually at least some flight options that are available at 50,000 miles each way. If Delta One Suites makes or breaks the deal, you’ll want to confirm that the Suites are available that date before moving miles.
Transfer Amex points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
While you can also transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy, we are going to focus on American Express Membership Rewards due to the transfer bonus running now through Dec. 28, 2019:
To make the transfer, log in to your American Express account, navigate to the point transfer page and select “Transfer Points” under the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club tile. In TPG testing, Amex Membership Rewards transfer to Flying Club instantaneously. You’ll want to transfer 39,000 Membership Rewards points to get enough Flying Club miles for a one-way or 77,000 MR points for a round-trip or two one-ways.
If you need to stock up on Membership Rewards, some top options are:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. ($550 annual fee. See Rates & Fees)
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 75,000 points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening. ($250 annual fee. See rates & fees.)
- American Express® Business Gold Card: Earn 35,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
- American Express® Green Card: Earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
The information for the Amex Green Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
How to book flights with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles
Once the miles are in your account, it’s time to book. Select the date you want to book from the calendar and select the flight from the results list:
Confirm the flight selection on the next screen and click “Next Step” again.
Log in to your account on the next screen, if you aren’t already logged in. Then, complete your purchase.
Remember to use a credit card with trip delay protection. Top choices are the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card (both offer $500 per ticket for a delay of more than six hours or overnight) or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card ($500 per ticket for 12+ hour or overnight delay).
While Virgin Atlantic’s website isn’t the easiest to use, booking award flights with Flying Club can help you take advantage of great sweet spots — which are currently even better thanks to the Amex transfer bonus running through Dec. 28, 2019. So, it’s definitely worth mastering the process.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, please click here.
Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.
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