Virgin Atlantic Adding Carrier Surcharges to Delta-Operated Award Flights

Oct 1, 2018

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Update: Thankfully, the fuel surcharges shown below disappeared after a couple of days. We reached out to Virgin Atlantic to make sense of the switcheroo, and the airline provided us with the following comment: “Virgin Atlantic has not made any changes to pricing. We have replicated the routes and cabins which were included in the article and could not replicate the information.”

We’re hoping it’s yet another IT glitch, or just a temporary mishap, but those who have attempted to book Delta-operated flights via Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club today are being greeted with grotesque fuel surcharges.

While the program has long tacked on outrageously high surcharges for Delta-operated flights to and from the United Kingdom, flights outside of the UK have historically not had the pesky fees added on.

Using Virgin Atlantic's Flying Club portal to book a Delta One Suite is a bit less alluring with these new surcharges
Using Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club portal to book a Delta One Suite is a bit less alluring with these new surcharges

Just two months back, we showcased how savvy award planners could use the Flying Club program to snag a one-way ticket between Minneapolis (MSP) and Tokyo (HND) aboard a retrofitted Delta 777 with Delta One Suites for just 60,000 Flying Club miles and $5.60.

Notice the minimal fees on Delta-operated flights through the Flying Club portal, as shown from a search in July 2018
Notice the minimal fees on Delta-operated flights through the Flying Club portal, as shown from a search in July 2018

Today, that exact same search shows availability at the 60,000-mile mark, but the associated fees have ballooned to $152.90, representing a staggering 2,630% increase.

The same award search, MSP to HND, from October 2018. Notice the immensely higher surcharges.
The same award search, MSP to HND, from October 2018. Notice the immensely higher surcharges.

We’re also seeing egregious fees on other business class fares for Delta-operated flights, including a $526.90 surcharge atop 50,000 Flying Club miles to fly one-way from Detroit (DTW) to Amsterdam (AMS) onboard an Airbus A330-300.

The required miles (50,000) look great for a business class seat, but that fuel surcharge is brutal
The required miles (50,000) look great for a business class seat, but that fuel surcharge is brutal

Here’s a breakdown of the fare above, clearly showing that the vast majority of the $526.90 in fees is attributed to “Carrier Imposed Surcharges.”

The fees look to be showing up across the entire award calendar. Below is what we’re seeing when searching more widely across Flying Club for Delta-operated business class seats between Detroit (DTW) and Amsterdam (AMS) in early 2019.

Other editors at TPG (as well as several tipsters who have written to us) are finding similarly inflated surcharges to other destinations that had been free of them prior, such as Milan (MXP) and Dublin (DUB).

Virgin Atlantic adds $526.90 in fuel surcharges for Delta-operated award flight from Detroit to Dublin (via New York-JFK)
Virgin Atlantic adds $526.90 in fuel surcharges for Delta-operated award flight from Detroit to Dublin (via New York-JFK)

Now, Virgin’s IT is not the best and we’ve seen hiccups before, so it’s possible this is a temporary phenomenon, or it could be real. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that these surcharges will vanish as quickly as they appeared, but we’ve reached out to Virgin Atlantic for comment. Should the surcharges become permanent (as so happened with ANA in August), it will certainly impact our overall impressions of the Flying Club program as a way to score affordable Delta award seats.

Featured image by the author.

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