A devaluation, softened: Virgin Atlantic confirms Delta US to Europe flights will be honoured at previous rate

Jan 11, 2021

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.

On New Year’s Day, Virgin Atlantic stunned the points and miles world with a sudden and drastic devaluation. At a moment’s notice, the carrier replaced its award chart for Delta partner awards with a distance-based version. With it, it increased the number of Virgin Points you would need for some flights by as much as 175%.

But now, Virgin Atlantic is clawing back some of those changes.

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As a refresher on 1 January, Virgin Atlantic introduced a distance-based award chart for Delta flights. And, unsurprisingly, it completely wiped out some of the great sweet spots that were previously available.

Here’s the new award chart, based on one-way flights.

(Image courtesy of Virgin Atlantic)

Under the new chart, rewards from the U.S. to Europe increased from 50,000 Virgin Points to 130,000 Virgin Points. However, Virgin Atlantic says that is no longer the case.

Flights between the U.S. and Europe and U.K. will be honoured at the previous, lower rates.

This chart now applies to one-way direct U.K. to U.S. flights:

Standard season Standard season Peak season Peak season
Route (U.K. to U.S.) Delta Main Cabin Delta One Delta Main Cabin Delta One
U.K. to East Coast U.S. (Boston, New York) 15,000 Virgin Points 47,500 Virgin Points 25,000 Virgin Points 57,500 Virgin Points
U.K. to Central U.S. (Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis) 17,500 Virgin Points 47,500 Virgin Points 27,500 Virgin Points 57,500 Virgin Points
U.K. to West Coast U.S. (Salt Lake City) 20,000 Virgin Points 67,500 Virgin Points 30,000 Virgin Points 77,500 Virgin Points

For travel from Europe to the U.S. (non-U.K.), award flights will continue to be honoured at the following rates one-way:

Route (Europe to the U.S.) Delta Main Cabin Delta One
Eg. Amsterdam to Boston, Paris to Atlanta 30,000 Virgin Points 50,000 Virgin Points

This is good news for travellers who look forward to redeeming Virgin Points for travel between the U.S. and Europe. The airline will continue to honour one of the best ways to book Delta One flights with miles. Though note that this only applies for flights across the Atlantic.

All other Delta-operated routes — including transpacific and domestic U.S. flights — will be priced at the new, increased rate detailed in the distance-based award chart above.

For example, a one-way flight from the U.S. to Asia previously cost 60,000 Virgin Points in Delta One. Now, however, those rates have increased. For example, a one-way flight in Delta One from Atlanta (ATL) to Tokyo (HND) will cost 165,000 Virgin Points.

For that return ticket, you’re now looking at 330,000 Virgin Points to fly in Delta One. This, as opposed to 120,000 Virgin Points at the old rates. That’s a 175% increase.

This is still a huge devaluation. However, the blow has been slightly softened by the fact that U.S. to Europe awards are no longer included in it.

Using Virgin Points — formerly Flying Club miles — has long been one of the best ways to book Delta flights, especially in Delta One. Because Delta got rid of its award chart years ago, booking through the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club allowed travellers to redeem points for Delta flights at fixed — and often much lower — rates than booking through Delta itself.

Related: Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles get a new name, no longer expire

“We recognise how much our members value the extensive range of redemption partner options available through Flying Club, including flights with our joint venture partner, Delta Air Lines,” a Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said in a statement. “The recent changes contribute to some considerable savings on reward seats, meaning members can go further for fewer Virgin Points. Across all classes, the redemption pricing remains competitive.”

Delta owns 49% of Virgin Atlantic. And while Flying Club has kept this sweet spot in its programme, it looks as though Delta has finally aligned its close partner in Virgin Atlantic with the likes of its own redemption values.

If anything, this revelation is a great reminder in the value of building points balances that are in a transferable currency, such as American Express Membership Rewards.

Featured photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

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