When and how to book Delta awards with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
U.K.-based Virgin Atlantic Flying Club may not be well known here in the U.S. However, it has so many great partner redemptions that it's worth getting to know the program if you’re looking for good-value award redemptions. There are plenty of gems in the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club program, from cheap premium-cabin awards to Japan to business class flights to the South Pacific.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has individual award charts for each of its partners — one of which is Delta Air Lines. While Virgin Atlantic drastically devalued its award chart for Delta partner awards about a year and a half ago, there are still a couple of good Delta redemptions that will save you thousands of points when compared to booking with Delta SkyMiles.
So, today we'll look at when you should use Virgin points to book Delta flights and how to do it.
Collecting Flying Club points
Before we get into how to use Virgin points, it’s important to note just how easy it is to collect Flying Club points — even without flying Virgin Atlantic or its partners.
Flying Club is a transfer partner of most of the major point currencies:
- American Express Membership Rewards (1:1, instant transfer).
- Bilt Rewards (1:1, instant transfer).
- Capital One (1:1, instant transfer).
- Chase Ultimate Rewards (1:1, instant transfer).
- Citi ThankYou Rewards (1:1, instant transfer).
- Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 with a 5,000-point bonus for transferring 60,000 points, 48-hour transfer time).
It's worth noting that Bilt Rewards points and Capital One miles transfer to Virgin Red, not directly to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. However, you can easily use points in your Virgin Red account with Flying Club. Check out our full article on the differences between Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and Virgin Red for more information.
That means that you’ve got plenty of options for how to earn transferable points to transfer to Flying Club. Here are some of the best welcome bonuses currently available on travel rewards cards that earn these types of transferrable points:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership. But, you may be targeted for a better bonus through the CardMatch Tool (offer subject to change at any time). $695 annual fee (see rates and fees).
- American Express® Gold Card: 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months of cardmembership. You may also be targeted for a better bonus through the CardMatch Tool (offer subject to change at any time). $250 annual fee (see rates and fees).
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. $550 annual fee.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. $95 annual fee.
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months after account opening. $95 annual fee.
- Citi Premier® Card:(see rates and fees) 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. $95 annual fee.
You can earn Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points directly by signing up for the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®. Currently, you can earn up to 35,000 bonus points within the first year:
- 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 or more on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening
- 2,500 points for each of the first two authorized users added to your card, up to a total of 5,000 bonus points
Most cobranded airline credit cards aren’t worth using as a non-bonus spending card. However, the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard earns 1.5 points for every dollar spent. At TPG’s valuation of 1.5 cents per point, that means you should get a return of at least 2.25 cents per dollar spent.
The information for the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Finally, if you’ve flown Virgin Atlantic — on a cash or award ticket — check to see if you can buy a Points Booster to pick up some cheap Flying Club points. A periodic promotion drops the price under one cent per point.
Related: Virgin Atlantic adds the ability to earn Tier Points on award flights, extends elite status by additional 6 months
Virgin Atlantic's Delta award chart
While Delta did away with its award charts years ago, Flying Club has stated award rates for Delta-operated flights. Up until Jan. 1, 2021, Virgin Atlantic used a lucrative region-based award chart for partner awards on Delta. Now, however, you’ll see three Delta award charts on Flying Club’s website.
- U.S. to U.K. nonstop flights.
- U.S. to Europe (excluding the U.K.) nonstop flights.
- All other Delta reward flights.
In particular, the award chart for the U.S. to U.K. nonstop one-way flights is as follows:
Meanwhile, the award chart for flights from the U.S. to the rest of Europe is as follows:
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club now prices other one-way Delta flights according to the following table:
For a round-trip ticket, you’ll need to pay double the cost of a one-way ticket. Also, note that Flying Club members can’t currently book Delta Premium Select awards.
Related: How to get Virgin Atlantic elite status without stepping on a plane
Sweet spots for Delta flights
At the beginning of 2021, a widespread devaluation removed most of the sweet-spot redemptions for Delta-operated flights from the Flying Club program. As such, there’s really only one outstanding sweet spot left: flying nonstop between the U.S. and Europe (excluding the U.K.). After all, one-way nonstop flights cost just 30,000 points in Delta Main Cabin and 50,000 points in Delta One. Luckily, Delta operates many nonstop flights between the U.S. and Europe. Plus, you’ll pay minimal taxes and fees on these awards.
You may also get value when using Flying Club to fly nonstop one-way between the U.S. and U.K. on Delta-operated flights. After all, you can normally fly between the U.S. and U.K. in economy class for 10,000 to 15,000 miles on standard dates and between 20,000 and 25,000 in peak season. However, you’ll need to pay high taxes and fees on these tickets, reducing the appeal. Still, this may be a good option, especially if you’re flying in standard season and cash rates are high.
The distance-based chart for other Delta-operated flights may also provide some value. Especially for domestic Delta-operated flights, I recommend focusing on routes of 2,000 miles or less. After all, the distance-based chart has bands for 500 miles and under, 501 to 1,000 miles, 1,001 to 1,500 miles and 1,501 to 2,000 miles that may let you snag a Delta reward for less than you could with other programs.
Remember, to get the rates discussed in this guide, you’ll need to book award flights with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club itself. You’ll have to transfer points from Amex Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards or Marriott Bonvoy to Flying Club and book your award flights directly on Virgin Atlantic’s website or over the phone.
Related: 3 great ways to redeem Virgin Atlantic points now that Delta awards are devalued
How to search Delta flights
While Flying Club and Delta have had a partnership for years, it was a hassle to book these tickets before Virgin Atlantic added Delta award redemptions to its website in 2017. Luckily, now you can search and book Delta flights on the Virgin Atlantic website.
To search, start here and enter the requested information. Don’t forget to change the “Show Price In” choice from Money to Points. I also recommend selecting “Show Flexible Dates” if you have flexibility.
Virgin Atlantic's website doesn't show a handful of airports when you search by entering the three-digit airport code. If this happens to you, click the "Full Airport List" button and select your airport.
Selecting “Show Flexible Dates” will display a small range of dates and prices.
Earlier this year, Flying Club quietly removed the price calendar from its website. That feature allowed you to see all of the award prices of a calendar month, which made award searches simple. Now, you'll have to go week by week to check award space,
When you click on a given date, you'll arrive at the screen with flights you can select.
After confirming your flight details, you’ll need to log in to your Flying Club account. At this point, you’ll get a message if you don’t have enough points to book the award.
Luckily, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards to Flying Club. The points will typically reach your account instantly.
Related: Amex Membership Rewards vs. Chase Ultimate Rewards: Which is the best?
Delta’s decision to remove its award charts in 2015 has led to some incredibly high award ticket prices over the years. However, there are often ways to book these flights for significantly fewer points than Delta would charge. Despite recent devaluations, one option to consider for select routes is Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
It’s always worth taking a few minutes to check Virgin Atlantic’s website before booking an award ticket on Delta. Just remember that the reverse holds true as well: Make sure that you check Delta’s website before booking an award with Flying Club. Read our post on the best ways to redeem Virgin Atlantic points now that Delta awards are devalued to learn how to maximize the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club program.
Additional reporting by Katie Genter and Kyle Olsen.