When and how to book Delta awards with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
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U.K.-based Virgin Atlantic Flying Club may not be well known here in the U.S. But if you’re looking for good-value award redemptions, it’s worth getting to know the program. 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. And one of these partners is Delta Air Lines. Virgin Atlantic drastically devalued its award chart for Delta partner awards on Jan. 1, 2021. Some awards even increased by as much as 175%. But, even after the devaluation, you can still snag some good-value Delta-operated award flights through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. So, today I’ll take a closer look at when and how to do so.
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Collecting Flying Club points
Before we get into how to use Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 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)
- 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, 24-hour transfer time)
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: 100,000 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 card membership. 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: 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. $550 annual fee.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: 80,000 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: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. $95 annual fee.
You can also earn Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points directly by signing up for the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®. Currently, you can earn up to 50,000 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
- 7,500 points after you spend a minimum of $15,000 with your card within your anniversary year
- An additional 7,500 points after you spend a total of $25,000 with your card within your anniversary year
Most cobranded airline credit cards aren’t worth using as a non-bonus spending card. However, the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard earns 1.5x 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.
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. There’s a periodic promotion that drops the price under one cent per point.
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.
Virgin Atlantic Delta award chart
While Delta got rid of its award charts years ago, Flying Club has stated award rates for Delta-operated flights. Until Jan. 1, 2021, Virgin Atlantic used a lucrative region-based award chart for partner awards on Delta. However, now you’ll see three Delta award charts on Flying Club’s website.
- U.S. to U.K. non-stop flights
- U.S. to Europe (excluding the U.K.) non-stop flights
- All other Delta reward flights
In particular, the award chart for the U.S. to U.K. non-stop one-way flights is as follows:
One aspect of the Virgin Atlantic Delta award chart that survived the New Years Day devaluation is U.S. to Europe (excluding the U.K.) non-stop flights. In particular, you’ll still only need to pay 30,000 points in Delta Main Cabin and 50,000 points in Delta One for non-stop one-way flights between the U.S. and Europe (excluding the U.K.).
And Virgin Atlantic Flying Club now prices other one-way Delta flights according to the following table:
Sweet spots for Delta flights
The Jan. 1, 2021 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 non-stop between the U.S. and Europe (excluding the U.K.). After all, one-way non-stop flights cost just 30,000 points in Delta Main Cabin and 50,000 points in Delta One. Luckily, Delta operates many non-stop flights between the U.S. and Europe. And, you’ll pay minimal taxes and fees on these awards.
You may also get value when using Flying Club to fly non-stop 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 and between 20,000 and 25,000 in peak season. However, you’ll need to pay high taxes and fees on these tickets, which certainly reduced the appeal. But, especially if you’re flying in standard season and cash rates are high, this may still be a good option.
The distance-based chart for other Delta-operated flights may also provide some value. Especially for domestic Delta-operated, 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.
But, to get the rates discussed in this guide, you’ll need to book award flights with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club itself. That means you’ll have to transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership 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.
How to search Delta flights
While Flying Club and Delta have had a partnership for years, it was a lot more of 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 in your schedule.
Selecting “Show Flexible Dates” will display a small range of dates and prices.
But, you can click on “Price Calendar” to see prices over the course of a month. This is the best way to search for good-value Delta flights if you want to book using Virgin Atlantic points but have flexible dates.
Then, clicking on a date will take you to a page where you can select your flight.
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, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards to Flying Club and the points will typically reach your account instantly. So, you can transfer points and book even if you don’t initially have enough points in your account.
Example Flying Club awards versus Delta SkyMiles
The best sweet spot if you want to fly Delta using Flying Club points is to fly Delta One non-stop between the U.S. and Europe (excluding the U.K.). Unfortunately, it’s currently difficult to find any availability to Europe in Delta One using Flying Club points.
But, it’s still relatively easy to find availability to fly non-stop to Europe in economy on a Delta-operated flight using Flying Club points. For example, you could book this flight from Atlanta to Stuttgart, Germany for 30,000 points plus $12.80 in taxes and fees:
Booking the same flight with Delta SkyMiles is going to be a lot more expensive — costing 84,000 SkyMiles instead of the 30,000 Flying Club points:
And if you want to fly domestically using Flying Club points, it’s typically easy to find award availability. For example, you could fly from Atlanta to Los Angeles non-stop on Delta for 12,500 points plus $5.60:
Instead of 12,500 Flying Club points, you’d have to redeem 13,500 or 14,500 SkyMiles on most dates for the same award flight booked through Delta:
In each of these cases, you’re able to book the same flight at a lower award rate. And in some situations, the savings can be substantial even after the recent Flying Club devaluation.
When you shouldn’t use Flying Club points
Especially after the recent devaluation, Flying Club isn’t the best option for many Delta flights. In short, you’ll need to check your options when searching for the best way to book Delta-operated flights.
For example, you’ll need to pay at least 7,500 Flying Club points each way for a nonstop domestic flight. But Delta periodically offers award flights for a little as 5,000 miles each way. And it’s often easy to find awards that cost less SkyMiles than Flying Club points. For example, Atlanta to New York LGA is 762 miles and would cost 8,500 Flying Club points. But, on many dates, you can pay just 6,000 SkyMiles for this flight:
And Delta doesn’t open up all the award space that appears on its website to partners, so you won’t see all of the options with Flying Club that you have when booking with Delta SkyMiles. And, if Delta hasn’t released saver-award availability to partners for the flights you want, there’s no way to use Flying Club points for that flight — even at a higher rate.
Finally, it’s also worth comparing award prices through Flying Blue as well. Even though Flying Blue switched to a variable award pricing model in 2018, there are some times when it’ll offer better award rates than what you’d find using both Delta SkyMiles or Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points.
Delta’s decision to remove its award charts in 2015 has led to some incredibly high award ticket prices. However, there are often ways to book these flights for significantly fewer points than Delta would charge. And, despite a recent devaluation, one option to consider for select routes is Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
It’s always worth 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 on Delta’s website before booking an award with Flying Club. And take a look at 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
Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy
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