Sweet Spot Sunday: How to save thousands of miles on Delta One awards to Europe
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Sweet Spot Sunday is a weekly series highlighting the best-value award redemptions across loyalty programs.
With closed-door suites on all Airbus A350s and A330-900neos and updated business class seats on almost every Boeing 767-400ER aircraft, Delta offers several comfortable ways to fly across the Atlantic. Even on the A330s and B767-300ERs with older seats, Delta One (business class) passengers still get to enjoy the same great soft product (food, Westin bedding, Tumi amenity kits, etc.). However, these flights usually don’t come cheap, especially if you’re booking with Delta SkyMiles.
The best way to book Delta One award flights to Europe is typically through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Not only are the rates generally cheaper than using Delta SkyMiles, but Flying Club is also a transfer partner of most major transferable points currencies, making it’s easy to accumulate miles for these redemptions.
Let’s take a closer look at these redemptions in this week’s edition of Sweet Spot Sunday.
Why it’s special
Delta tends to charge exorbitant rates for Delta One award tickets, both domestically and internationally. It’s totally normal for Delta to charge 210,000+ SkyMiles for a round-trip Delta One award to Europe. If you’re only booking one-way, expect to pay at least 200,000 SkyMiles. However, assuming there’s saver-level availability, you can pay a fraction of that by booking through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
Although Flying Club recently devalued most Delta award tickets, it kept the old pricing for award tickets to Europe. This means you can book nonstop Delta flights from anywhere in the U.S. to Europe for just 50,000 points one-way in business class.
That’s much cheaper than what’s offered through Delta’s SkyMiles program. Plus, the taxes and fees on these tickets are only $5.60. Just note that if your itinerary requires a connection, you’ll need to pay for the additional segment based on the distance.
This pricing applies to routes from Delta hubs like Atlanta (ATL) and New York-JFK to cities such as Amsterdam (AMS), Dublin (DUB) and Frankfurt (FRA), amongst others. The one exception here are flights to the U.K. Virgin Atlantic has a separate award chart for Delta flights from the U.S. to the U.K. and these awards have higher taxes and fees:
|Standard season||Peak season|
|Route (U.S. to U.K.)||Delta One||Delta One|
|East Coast (Boston, New York) to U.K.||47,500 Virgin Points + $643.50 tax||57,500 Virgin Points + $643.50|
|Central U.S. (Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis) to U.K.||47,500 Virgin Points + $643.50 tax||57,500 Virgin Points + $643.50 tax|
|West Coast U.S. (Salt Lake City) to U.K.||67,000 Virgin Points + $643 tax||77,500 Virgin Points + $643 tax|
Back to standard Europe awards. Let’s say we wanted to book a one-way Delta One flight from New York to Amsterdam in November. Delta is currently charging a mind-boggling 320,000 SkyMiles for the one-way ticket.
Meanwhile, the same award is available for just 50,000 Flying Club points plus $5.60 in taxes and fees. Obviously, this is a far superior value.
Now, full disclosure: These awards aren’t available on all dates. Unlike when you book directly through Delta, there needs to be saver-level availability to enable booking through Virgin Atlantic.
Generally speaking, these awards are available when Delta offers its lowest tier of award pricing, but you may need to play around with dates on Virgin’s website. Your best bet would be to use ExpertFlyer (owned by TPG’s parent company, Red Ventures) to set alerts when award space opens up.
How to book this award
Booking Delta award tickets through Virgin Atlantic is simple and can be done online. What’s nice about the site is that anyone can search for availability — you only need to sign in to your account once it’s time to book. Here’s how to book this award, step-by-step:
Step 1: Enter your trip information
On the Virgin Atlantic homepage, enter your trip information as you normally would. Then, under “advanced search,” instead of showing the price in “money,” you’ll want to select “points.” I also recommend you check the “show flexible dates” box to find availability quicker. You can book this award as either a one-way or round-trip.
Step 2: Confirm your travel dates
If you select the flexible dates option, you’ll be shown a week’s worth of results. If none of the dates work, you can browse even more options through the “Price Calendar” feature. This allows you to search and find availability across several months.
Step 3: Pick your flights
Once you pick a date, you’ll be shown all of the flight options and their respective prices. If there are many options, you can sort and filter the flights by price and number of stops.
Step 4: Confirm, sign in and pay
The final step is to review your itinerary and then sign in to your account to finalize your booking. Although the taxes and fees on these awards are minimal, it’s still important to pay using the right card, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express or Chase Sapphire Reserve. Not only do they earn bonus points on airfare, but they come with perks like trip delay reimbursement and trip cancellation and interruption protection, which can be incredibly valuable when things go wrong.
How to earn miles for this award
Even if you’ve never flown on Virgin Atlantic before, you’ll have no trouble getting the miles you need to book this award. That’s because Flying Club is a transfer partner of most major points programs: American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards. All of these transfers are at a 1:1 ratio, and based on our experiences, process instantly. It’s also not uncommon for banks to offer bonuses for transferring points to Virgin Atlantic.
If you’re new to points and miles, I recommend you start by picking up the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. The annual fee is just $95 per year and currently offers a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. That’s exactly how many points you need to book a round-trip Delta One award to Europe using this method.
Alternatively, here are some other welcome bonuses currently available on travel rewards cards that earn these types of transferrable points:
- 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.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the card in 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.
- Citi Premier® Card: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. $95 annual fee.
If you’ve flown Virgin Atlantic — on a cash or award ticket — check to see if you can buy a Mileage Booster to pick up some cheap Flying Club miles. There’s a periodic promotion that drops the price under 1 cent per mile.
Booking Delta One awards to Europe through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club can be significantly cheaper than Delta’s own SkyMiles program. In some cases, you can save hundreds of thousands of points. Better yet, Flying Club miles are easy to earn. The only problem is that it’s not always easy to find saver-level Delta award space through partners.
Featured image by Chris Rank/Rank Studios
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