Virgin Atlantic has massively devalued Delta awards, eviscerating any value in all but the narrowest of circumstances without notice. Even absent official confirmation, this devaluation has Delta’s fingerprints all over it.
Huge, No-Notice Delta Devaluation Via Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Without notice, Virgin Atlantic moved to a distance-based award chart on Delta redemptions. Awards are still priced on a per-segment basis and in some cases 175% higher than before.
As a point of comparison, prior to 2021 Virgin Atlantic charged the following for Delta premium cabin redemptions:
Let me give you an example. For over a year, I have been eyeing a Los Angeles – Shanghai trip on Delta Air Lines to experience Delta One on the A350. The pandemic meant such travel was impossible in 2020, but I hoped to do it this year.
Two days ago the trip cost 60,000 miles for a one-way business class ticket. Now, the same flight costs 165,000 miles one-way. That’s right folks, a 175% increase in price without notice.
There really are no more sweet spots in premium cabins unless you are making a shorthaul redemption under 500 miles.
Was Delta Behind This Sudden Move?
Delta acquired a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic in 2012. The two carriers are joint venture partners. Delta charged significantly more miles for its own flights than did Virgin Atlantic. Now the playing field has been leveled.
Do you really think Virgin Atlantic decided to make this change without pressure from Delta? Not when its business model (with partnerships including American Express, Chase, and Citi) relies upon incoming transfers and consumer redemptions.
I pressed Delta for details and received no response.
Virgin Atlantic’s statement is laughably misleading:
“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. 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.”
Here’s what I think happened: Delta saw an uptick in partner bookings from Virgin Atlantic and decided that it was simply too much. In many cases, Virgin Atlantic was charging less than half of what Delta charged for the same flight.
In that sense, I suppose the change should not come as a surprise. What does come as a surprise, however, is that Virgin Atlantic gave us no notice. That is shameful and shows a total and complete lack of transparency and respect for Flying Club members.
I have miles in Virgin Atlantic and have no idea what I’ll use them for…certainly not on Delta any longer. It is a reminder that points are a depreciating asset and unpredictable in nature and value. As a consequence, make an effort to collect points in flexible currencies like American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards and only transfer when you are ready to book.
I’m done transferring prospectively when a lucrative 40% transfer bonus appears. Because the price of my award went up 175%…
Oh, and if you were planning on booking an ANA award with Virgin Atlantic, I’d get on that. Today.
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