Many times understanding how to redeem points and miles for free flights can be a confusing process. It gets even more confusing when using complex airline partnerships. We’re going to explore using Virgin Atlantic miles to book flights on Delta Airlines.
Thankfully, it’s a straightforward process that will help save you money when traveling both internationally and domestically.
In many cases, it’s a cheaper miles redemption to book Delta flights using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles. And you would be flying on the exact same Delta airplane.
This is a trick that can be used for people who transfer miles into the Delta SkyMiles program from partners like American Express. Instead of transferring them into SkyMiles, you transfer them into Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles.
Award Chart: Virgin Atlantic & Delta
Before showing examples, it’s important to note that it’s not always cheaper. In some cases, it will cost fewer Delta Skymiles, but it’s worth checking before redeeming on Delta to see if you can get a better deal through Virgin Atlantic.
Delta eliminated its award chart, so there’s no way to compare apples to apples. But, because Virgin Atlantic has a set award chart for Delta-operated flights, you know what you can expect to pay.
All of the numbers listed above are roundtrip costs – one-way flights are just half the cost. The other thing to note is that these are based on non-stop flights. Flights that have a connection will cost more since you’re paying for an extra flight segment.
A couple of highlights on the Virgin Atlantic award chart:
- United States to Hawaii in economy – 40,000 miles (20,000 miles one-way)
- Intra-United States in economy – 25,000 miles (12,500 miles one-way)
- Intra-United States in first class – 45,000 miles (22,500 miles one-way)
- United States to Europe in economy – 60,000 miles (30,000 miles one-way)
- United States to Europe in first class – 100,000 miles (50,000 miles one-way)
How to Search for Virgin Atlantic flights?
The most difficult part about searching for Delta flights on Virgin Atlantic is finding award availability. Because it’s not their own airline, every flight isn’t available to book with miles. Unfortunately, there isn’t much of a pattern either, so you really need to search for it. Having flexible dates will really help with your award flight search.
1. Make sure you are searching non-stop Delta routes
The Virgin Atlantic award chart for Delta flights is based on non-stop segments. A one-way flight between Atlanta and Seattle for 12,500 miles is based on a non-stop flight. A flight that were to transit through Salt Lake City would be more than 12,500 miles.
A good tool to use is this website which shows every Delta route based on the airports.
2. Go to Virgin Atlantic’s reward search website and search for your flight.
While you can search for award flights on the main page for Virgin Atlantic, it could take longer because there are fewer options for date flexibility options. With this page, you can search over a five-week period.
I’ve found it easier to search for one-way flights instead of round trip flights. A couple of notes:
- Select “within 5 weeks” to give you an idea of award availability
- For payment, select “Pay with miles”
- For cabin, if you want to fly first class on Delta, select “Upper Class”
Another important thing to note is that Delta-operated flights on Virgin Atlantic must be booked at least 21 days in days advance. Virgin Atlantic will see no Delta availability inside the three week mark.
3. Enter the origin city and the destination
There are a couple of options for inputting airports. The first, and easiest, option is to input the airport code into each box. Once inputted, it will either automatically populate or you should be able to select the airport.
The second option is to use the airport finder tool. Click the destination pinpoint icon on the right side of the box. A pop-up will appear that will allow you to select the airport based on the country and state.
4. Search for flight options
In this scenario, I searched for one-way first class (upper class on Virgin Atlantic) flights between Atlanta and Seattle on April 14, 2020 but with a five-week flexibility window.
And here’s what the search returned. As you can see, there are just four days with first-class flight options. Some of these might have more than one flight available. This will also change over time. So, just because you see four days today, you might see more (or less) tomorrow!
I clicked the option for Wednesday, April 22 for 22,500 + $5.60. AFter selecting that option, I can now see that it’s a flight leaving in the evening.
In order to book the flight, simply keep clicking through as if you were purchasing any other flight! The process booking a round trip flight is the exact same, however, sometimes finding award availability is even tougher.
Examples: Using Virgin Atlantic miles to book flights on Delta
United States to Hawaii in economy
I searched a few different locations for economy flights between the United States and Hawaii. In full disclosure, there were a couple routes where it was cheaper to use Delta SkyMiles.
However, there were also several options were MUCH cheaper using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles. The example we’ll use is a non-stop flight between Atlanta and Honolulu. A one-way economy flight using Virgin Atlantic miles will cost just 20,000 miles and $5.60.
The same Delta flights will cost 51,000 miles plus $5.60 when redeeming with the Delta SkyMiles program!
Intra-United States in economy
Let’s move on to a domestic flight in economy within the United States. I picked Atlanta to Seattle. Delta has non-stop flights between both of these cities.
First, on Virgin Atlantic, I searched for a Tuesday in April. As you can see from the picture below, only the Tuesday and Wednesday were available to me to book – even though Delta has daily flights.
After clicking the flight on Tuesday, April 14, I can verify it’s a non-stop flight. And it can be mine for 12,500 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles along with taxes and fees of $5.60.
Now let’s look for the same flight on Delta. As you can see, there’s award availability for every day of the week.
The exact same flight that was just 12,000 miles when using Virgin Atlantic miles is 18,000 miles on Delta!
United States to Europe in economy
Now, lets take a look at flights between the United States and Europe. Before we start, it’s important to note that finding award availability on Virgin Atlantic can be tough, so you might need to try multiple dates.
This is where it helps to be flexible with your travel.
Delta Flight 74 from Atlanta to Amsterdam will cost just 30,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles.
The same flight, Delta Flight 74, when booked through Delta will cost 44,000 Delta SkyMiles!
United States to Europe in first class
Using Virgin Atlantic miles to book flights on Delta can also be cheaper when it comes to flying first class to Europe. Even though finding availability can be tough, it can result in massive savings.
I searched non-stop flights between Boston and Paris, France. As you can see below, Delta flight 224 will cost 50,000 miles to fly lie-flat Delta One across the Atlantic Ocean.
And then when searching Delta, the same flight will cost 80,000 miles to fly in the same lie-flat Delta One seat.
How to get Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles are some of the easiest currencies to obtain. Not only are they transfer partners with three major transferable point currencies, but the airline also has a credit card.
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Chase Ultimate Rewards are one of the most useful types of points and miles. Not only is it fast and easy to earn them with the Chase Trifecta, but Ultimate Rewards also transfer to Virgin Atlantic instantly at a 1:1 ratio.
This makes earning Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles as easy as earning Chase Ultimate Rewards!
American Express Membership Rewards
American Express Membership Rewards, another one of my favorite transferable currencies thanks to the bonus categories on the Amex Gold Card and the Amex Everyday Card, is also a 1:1 instant transfer partner with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
Another great use of American Express Membership Rewards in the ANA Round the World trip.
Citi ThankYou Points
Citi ThankYou Points are trying to make a comeback and compete with American Express and Chase. You can earn 2x ThankYou points on every purchase thanks to the Citi Double Cash card. Citi is transfers instantly to Virgin Atlantic with a 1:1 ration.
Marriott Bonvoy is another way to get Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles, albeit not nearly as good as the three other options. Bonvoy points transfer at a 3:1 ratio but has a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points. This means that transferring 60,000 Bonvoy points will net 25,000 Virgin Atlantic miles. It can also take multiple days for the transfer to go through in the system.
Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard
While airline credit cards don’t have as many direct benefits as hotel credit cards, the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard can be a good way to earn a ton of Flying Club cards. The card typically carries a bonus of 60.000-80,000 miles after reaching minimum spend requirements but then also an annual companion reward (requires $25,000 in purchases) and an annual miles bonus (requires $15.000-25,000 in purchases).
The card does have a $90 annual fee but it could be worth it if you are able to spend enough on this card.
As you can see, using Virgin Atlantic miles to book flights on Delta can be cheaper. In full disclosure, there are definitely some routes where booking through Delta is cheaper.
But, before transferring points into the SkyMiles program, make sure you give Virgin Atlantic a look. I’ve saved miles doing this and have had family members save miles doing this.
If it’s the same Delta flight, why not spend less miles to fly on it?