3 great ways to redeem Virgin Atlantic points now that Delta awards are devalued
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Virgin Atlantic started 2021 on a bad note when it devalued Delta partner awards.
These used to be one of the best ways to use Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points — and by far the best way to book most Delta award tickets. Awards were priced on a zone-based chart, so all flights from the U.S. to Asia would cost the same. In this case, you could use just 60,000 Virgin points to book a one-way ticket from Atlanta (ATL) to Seoul (ICN) in Delta One business class.
Better yet, these awards had no fuel surcharges attached, making them an excellent way to avoid Virgin Atlantic’s huge fuel surcharges on its own award tickets.
Unfortunately, the new award chart is distance-based. So the longer the flight you book, the more points you’ll spend on a ticket. This skyrocketed the price of many Delta awards, bringing the cost of Atlanta to Seoul to 165,000 Virgin points one-way in business class. This is nearly 3x the cost of the pre-devaluation price — ouch.
But fear not: Virgin points aren’t worthless. There are still many great ways to redeem your points even after this massive devaluation, including some that bring even more value than the old Delta award chart. I’ll give you a look at all your best options for redeeming devalued Virgin Atlantic points in this article.
Let’s dive in!
Book flights to Europe with Delta
While Virgin Atlantic may have devalued most Delta award tickets, one award ticket narrowly avoided the devaluation.
Virgin Atlantic kept the old award chart pricing for award tickets to Europe. This means you can still book Delta flights from anywhere in the U.S. to anywhere in Europe for 30,000 and 50,000 points one-way in economy and business class, respectively. This is a great deal and one you can use to score Delta flights to Europe for far cheaper than what’s offered through Delta’s own dynamically-priced SkyMiles program.
Delta has a huge European route network. You can fly Delta from the U.S. to cities like Amsterdam (AMS), Dublin (DUB) and Frankfurt (FRA), amongst others. Most of these flights depart from the airline’s hubs in Atlanta (ATL) and New York-JFK.
You can find award space on most Delta routes right on the Virgin Atlantic website or using ExpertFlyer (owned by TPG’s parent company, Red Ventures). That said, the Virgin Atlantic search engine can be a bit wonky, so you may want to verify award space with another SkyTeam search tool.
It’s worth noting that Virgin Atlantic has a separate award chart for Delta flights from the U.S. to the U.K. These flights have higher taxes and fees, but you can score moderately lower pricing if you book during off-peak dates. Here’s a look at Virgin Atlantic’s award chart for Delta flights to the U.K.:
|Standard season||Standard season||Peak season||Peak season|
|Route (U.S. to U.K.)||Delta Main Cabin||Delta One||Delta Main Cabin||Delta One|
|East Coast (Boston, New York) to U.K.||10,000 Virgin Points + $262 tax||47,500 Virgin Points + $643.50 tax||20,000 Virgin Points + $262 tax||57,500 Virgin Points + $643.50|
|Central U.S. (Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis) to U.K.||12,500 Virgin Points + 262 tax||47,500 Virgin Points + $643.50 tax||22,500 Virgin Points + $262 tax||57,500 Virgin Points + $643.50 tax|
|West Coast U.S. (Salt Lake City) to U.K.||15,000 Virgin Points + $262 tax||67,000 Virgin Points + $643 tax||25,000 Virgin Points + $262 tax||77,500 Virgin Points + $643 tax|
Head to Japan in ANA first or business class
Virgin Atlantic and ANA have long had a non-alliance partnership that allows Virgin Atlantic members to earn and redeem miles on ANA flights and vice-versa. For some background, ANA is a Tokyo-based airline that operates a global route network from its Tokyo-Narita (NRT) and Tokyo-Haneda (HND) hubs. It’s well known as having one of the best first and business class products in the sky.
You can get an excellent deal when redeeming Virgin points for ANA flights in first and business class. In fact, this is one of the best deals in the points and miles world.
Here’s a copy of Virgin Atlantic’s ANA award chart. Note that all awards listed here are priced round-trip, but you can book one-way tickets for half the cost.
As you can see, flights from the U.S. to Japan start at 90,000 points in business class from the West Coast. Likewise, first-class flights on the same routes cost 110,000 points round-trip, which is an excellent deal.
Departing from the U.S. Midwest or East Coast will set you back 95,000 points round-trip in business class and 120,000 in first.
Regardless of the route you book, this is an insanely good deal.
By comparison, booking ANA first-class one-way from Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo-Narita (NRT) costs 121,000 miles one-way when you book with United MileagePlus. So transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic instead, and you can book a round-trip ticket for cheaper than the cost of a one-way ticket with United.
Better yet, you’ll only pay minimal taxes and fees on this ticket. To book, find ANA award space with your favorite Star Alliance search tool and call Virgin Atlantic Flying Club to book. This process should only take an hour or so and is totally worth it for a low-cost trip in one of Asia’s best business or first-class products.
Book Air New Zealand (if you can find space)
Virgin Atlantic is also has a non-alliance partnership with Air New Zealand. You can leverage this partnership to score a solid deal on Air New Zealand flights from the U.S. to the South Pacific, giving you a quick connection from the U.S. West Coast to Auckland (AKL) and beyond.
Here’s a quick look at Air New Zealand’s Virgin Atlantic award chart. Like the ANA chart earlier, the prices shown are based on round-trip itineraries. You can book a one-way ticket for half the cost listed here. All tickets are subject to minimal taxes and fees.
However, the best deal on this award chart isn’t for flights from the U.S. to New Zealand. In addition to a flight to Auckland (AKL), it also flies nonstop from Los Angeles (LAX) to Rarotonga (RAR).
Rarotonga is the main international gateway for the Cook Islands and is a focus city for Air New Zealand. This flight gives you a great way to explore the Cook Islands as you’ll pay just 90,000 Virgin points round-trip in business class.
Unfortunately, Air New Zealand doesn’t open business class award space often. We recommend setting an ExpertFlyer alert for the date you’d like to search, so you don’t have to constantly search for your award to open up. Instead, ExpertFlyer will email you when (and if) Air New Zealand opens an award ticket on or around the dates you’d like to travel.
While Virgin Atlantic points may not be as valuable as they once were, there are a ton of great ways to use your points.
My favorite way to redeem Virgin points is booking ANA first class. At 120,000 points round-trip from the U.S. Midwest or East Coast, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better deal on a first-class ticket to Japan.
Of course, Delta One flights to Europe for 50,000 points is an excellent redemption too. And if award space opens, Air New Zealand business class is a great way to visit the South Pacific post-pandemic.
Whatever redemption you choose, you’ll get an excellent redemption value if you use your points for something outlined here.
Feature photo by TungCheung/Shutterstock
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