When and how to book Delta awards with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points

5 October 2023

Virgin Atlantic joined Sky Team earlier this year, but its Flying Club loyalty program may not be as well known as some of it’s alliance partners — especially Delta SkyMiles.

However, it has so many great partner redemptions that it’s worth getting to know the program if you’re looking for good-value award flights. The Virgin Atlantic Flying Club program has many gems, from cheap premium-cabin awards to Japan to business-class flights to the South Pacific.

While Delta is not generous with releasing premium cabin awards to partner airlines, compared with the 300,000+ SkyMiles Delta can charge for a single flight, there are some great deals to be found booking through Virgin Atlantic instead.

If you’re considering moving away from SkyMiles thanks to the recent changes to status levels and lounge access, here is when you should use Virgin points to book Delta flights and how to do it.

How to earn Virgin Points

BEN SMITHSON/THE POINTS GUY

Before we get into how to use them, it’s important to note how easy it is to collect Virgin points — even without flying Virgin Atlantic or its partners.

Flying Club is a transfer partner of every major transferable point currency:

American Express Membership Rewards (1:1, instant transfer)
Bilt Rewards (1:1, instant transfer)
Capital One (1:1, instant transfer)
Chase Ultimate Rewards (1:1, instant transfer)
Citi ThankYou Rewards (1:1, instant transfer)
Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 with a 5,000-point bonus for transferring 60,000 points, 48-hour transfer time)

It’s worth noting that Bilt Rewards points and Capital One miles transfer to Virgin Red, not directly to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. However, you can easily use your Virgin Red account points with Flying Club.

That means you’ve got plenty of options for earning rewards to transfer to Flying Club, many of which feature terrific welcome bonuses. Here’s just a sample of the travel rewards credit cards that earn these transferable points that can be converted to Virgin points:

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express
American Express® Gold Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Virgin Atlantic’s Delta award chart

ANDREW KUNESH/THE POINTS GUY

While Delta did away with its award charts years ago with some eye-watering dynamic prices, Flying Club has retained award rates for Delta-operated flights, with some quirks and caveats.

You’ll now see three Delta award charts on Flying Club’s website.

U.S. to U.K. nonstop flights
U.S. to Europe (excluding the U.K.) nonstop flights
All other Delta reward flights

Here’s the award chart for one-way, nonstop flights from the U.S. to U.K.:

VIRGINATLANTIC.COM

Meanwhile, the award chart for flights from the U.S. to the rest of Europe is as follows:

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For all other Delta flights, Virgin Atlantic uses a distance-based award chart, and each segment is priced separately based on the following table:

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For a round-trip ticket, you’ll need to pay double the cost of a one-way ticket. And as noted above, you’ll redeem points for each segment individually. As a result, flying from New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA) to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) will require additional points if you connect through a Delta hub like Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) — even though the total distance flown with the connection is just a few miles longer.

Also, note that Flying Club members can’t currently book Delta Premium Select (premium economy) awards on any route.

Related: Is Delta Air Lines premium economy worth it between New York and London?

While these are excellent redemptions for Delta One, unfortunately, we no longer see any Delta One award space provided to Virgin Atlantic to or from Europe or the United Kingdom at the time of publication.

It’s understandable that if Delta has SkyMiles members willing to pay 750,000 miles for a round-trip redemption to Europe in business class, the airline would be hesitant to provide these same seats to partners to redeem for a fraction of that price.

Sweet spots for Delta flights

Even without premium-cabin flights, there are still some great sweet spots for using Virgin points to book Delta flights. Economy awards are readily available to London-area airports and typically represent a terrific value, especially on off-peak dates.

For reasons unknown, Delta flights are currently pricing 5,000 points lower each way than the award chart above requires, though the fees, taxes and surcharges are about $70 higher than for Virgin-operated flights on the same route.

These two flights would set you back 41,000 miles or 72,000 miles (respectively) if you booked them through Delta SkyMiles.

Just 10,000 Virgin points for a transatlantic flight on Delta is a great way to maximize your travel, especially if you are looking at a last-minute, one-way fare when cash tickets can be high.

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You can also use the handy reward seat searcher to quickly check the availability of Delta flights, month by month on routes to and from the United Kingdom.

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You’ll need a higher 30,000 Virgin points to fly Delta from the United States to European destinations outside the United Kingdom, but the benefit is the fees and taxes are virtually nil, and there are no pesky surcharges either.

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This same flight through Delta would set you back 66,000 miles.

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The distance-based chart for other Delta-operated flights can also be great value.

Especially for domestic Delta-operated flights, we recommend focusing on routes covering up to 2,000 miles. After all, the distance-based chart has bands for 500 miles and under, 501 to 1,000 miles, 1,001 to 1,500 miles and 1,501 to 2,000 miles that may let you snag a Delta reward for less than you could with other programs.

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If you book through Delta, this exact same flight clocks in at 14,500 miles in standard economy — nearly double what you’d pay through Virgin.

DELTA.COM

Try to look for nonstop flights, since a connecting itinerary will price segment by segment (and thus have a higher price).

On long-haul Delta flights to regions other than the United Kingdom/Europe we have only seen availability on a handful of routes, and only in Main Cabin economy.

How to search Delta flights

You can search and book Delta flights on the Virgin Atlantic website.

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To search, start here and enter the requested information. Don’t forget to change the “Show Price In” choice from Money to Points. I also recommend selecting “Show Flexible Dates” if you have flexibility.

Virgin Atlantic’s website doesn’t show a handful of airports when you search by entering the three-digit airport code. If this happens to you, click the “Full Airport List” button and select your airport.

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Selecting “Show Flexible Dates” will display a small range of dates and prices.

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When you click on a given date, you’ll arrive at the screen with flights you can select.

After confirming your flight details, you’ll need to log in to your Flying Club account. At this point, you’ll get a message if you don’t have enough points to book the award.

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As noted previously, you can then transfer American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards to Flying Club. The points will typically reach your account instantly. However, you may need to log out and then back in to access your updated balance.

Bottom line

Delta’s decision to remove its award charts in 2015 has led to incredibly high award ticket prices. However, there are often ways to book these flights for significantly fewer points than Delta would charge.

One option to consider for select routes is Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

It’s always worth a few minutes to check Virgin Atlantic’s website before booking an award ticket on Delta.

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