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If you thought 2021 would bring better news, think again. Right as the calendar turned over in 2021, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club very quietly changed its redemption scheme for flights operated by Delta. And it's mostly bad news.
International and premium cabin travelers will be disappointed to find out their points won’t take them nearly as far anymore. However, there's a silver lining in these changes for domestic and other short-haul flyers.
How the Virgin Atlantic Delta Award Chart is Changing
Previously, redemption rates on Delta flights followed a strictly zone-based award chart.
Virgin Atlantic has now shifted to primarily a distance-based chart, with rates rising for virtually all long-haul flights.
Before we get into specifics, these changes spell massive increases for long-haul awards—particularly for business class.
However, domestic Delta travelers will enjoy the fact that shorter flights may actually see award price decreases. Previously, all Delta flights within the United States would cost 12,500 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points. Under the terms of the new award chart, these prices can drop as low as 7,500 points. That's a 40% reduction.
These kinds of reductions aren’t confined to domestic flights, either. Short hops to the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, and even parts of Africa will enjoy even larger price reductions for flights these distances.
What Does the Virgin Atlantic Delta Award Chart Change Mean?
If you want to fly long-haul international flights on Delta metal, you may need to rethink your points and miles strategy. Below is a sampling of long-haul international Delta routes and their old and new one-way award costs to demonstrate just how severe these changes are.
The only long-haul international flights where business class award costs do not increase are flights between the United States and Europe (except flights to and from the United Kingdom). Thankfully, these non-UK Europe routes will continue to cost 30,000 points in economy and 50,000 points in business class each way.
As an example of the impacts of these pricing changes, award costs for a flight such as Atlanta to Johannesburg in business class go from 60,000 to 165,000 points each way. That’s a staggering 175% increase!
At the same time, it is important to realize that economy class fliers may come out ahead with new award pricing. For a route such as New York to Dakar, Senegal, economy class awards drop in price by 17,500 points each way as a result of these changes—or a 44% decrease.
Domestic and short-haul international travelers feel impacts from these changes as well, and in a similar fashion as long-haul travelers. Remember, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club awards are per flight, so each segment is added together to come up with a total award cost. All of the flights listed below are for non-stop travel.
For all but the shortest of routes, business class award prices will increase, often substantially. Delta's seasonal route between Atlanta and Anchorage goes from 22,500 points in business class one-way to a ludicrous 80,000 points. That's a 256% increase!
However, economy class passengers can rejoice as a result of these award pricing changes. All domestic flights under 2,000 miles either maintain the same economy class award prices, or see a reduction.
Better yet, short-haul flights to destinations in the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico may decrease in price by over 50%! A one-way flight between Los Angeles and San José del Cabo used to cost 17,500 points in economy. Now a round-trip journey costs just 17,000 points.
Similar spiel as above with short-haul North American/Caribbean routes. Anything over 2,000 miles will actually still increase in costs. So, it’s really only the short-haul nonstops that enjoy any sort of reduction in rates. Need to do a little more research to find some of these particular routes. LAX-SJD goes from 17,500 in economy one way to just 17,000 in economy round trip.
Delta long-haul premium cabin flights were once a prominent example of how best to use Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points. Now, travelers will find that is no longer the case. Switching from a zone-based award chart to a distance-based award chart eliminates many of the sweet spots enjoyed by award travelers in years past.
Still, a short-haul silver lining can be found as part of these changes. Short domestic hops, and even short international flights to places like the Caribbean and Mexico, may have decreased significantly as a result of these changes.
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This isn’t much of a surprise, and controversially I think there is some value to these changes.
Glad theyve kept the TATL rates the same for those cheap redemptions to AMS & CDG
I care more about short-haul flights within the Western Hemisphere, so this is a “valuation” in my book (Delta flights got cheaper). Virgin was financially stressed, so this was only a matter of time. It’s also another textbook case for why all the travel blogs emphasize the value of transferable points. Now the points redemption has a linear correlation with the distance to destination. I may take a closer look at Virgin for now on when I want to fly Delta.
Time and again we customers learn about WORSENING of mileage deals, invariably after we were previous reassured about the advantage of joining generous and ample memberships (usually for a fee…). I look forward to seeing BETTERING mileage deals as well!!
I’ve not really paid too much attention to the Virgin program before but might look into it a bit more as a result of this article. Boston to Dublin is I think the shortest transatlantic route and at least that doesn’t seem to have increased in points terms.
A great deal only lasts so long once it is on every blog in the travel universe….plus I’m sure the cost passed between the airlines was likely out of whack and costing someone (likely Virgin) too much.
Yes, while I find travel blogs, such as AW, extremely helpful and valuable, so do many others, unfortunately. 🙂
Great read, thanks!
Oh boy, here we go again, hope others dont follow.