BREAKING NEWS: Virgin Atlantic Changes Earnings & Award Costs On Delta


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Virgin Atlantic has just announced some big and wide-reaching changes to rules governing how many miles Flying Club members will earn when flying on Delta, how many Flying Club miles members will need to book awards on Delta and how many Tier Points members will earn when flying on Delta. These changes are very significant!

The changes will take effect from 1 September 2017 when the mileage, tier points and tier bonuses you earn when travelling with Delta will be the same as you’d currently earn when travelling on Virgin Atlantic.

Link to Virgin Atlantic’s page showing the changes

Headline Changes

Earning Flying Club Miles With Delta

  • Flying Club members booking Delta Domestic First Class and International Business Class fares will earn more miles than  before
  • Most Economy fares will earn the same or slightly more miles than before – but there are exceptions
  • Virgin Atlantic has now published mileage earnings for bookings in Delta Comfort + and Delta Premium Select

Spending Flying Club Miles With Delta

  • Standard and Peak Seasons will be introduced for award bookings on Delta
  • Awards originating in the US will no longer cost more than awards originating in the UK or Europe
  • Up to 50% reductions in the cost of Economy Class awards if traveling in Standard Season
  • Significant savings on Economy Class awards if traveling in Peak Season and originating in the US
  • Some award price increases on Economy Class awards if traveling in Peak Season and originating in the UK or Europe
  • Increases of up to 72% in Delta One award costs between UK/Europe & West Coast
  • Increases of up to 28% in Delta One award costs between UK/Europe and non-West Coast cities

Earning Flying Club Tier Points With Delta

  • Significantly fewer tier points earned on flights under 3,000 miles across all booking classes
  • Significantly fewer tier points earned on flights over 3,000 miles for discounted First Class and discounted Delta One bookings.
  • Significantly more tier points earned on flights over 3,000 miles for the more flexible First Class and more flexible Delta One bookings
  • Virgin Atlantic has now published tier point earnings for bookings in Delta Comfort + and Delta Premium Select

All Delta flights ticketed before 1 September 2017 will earn miles/tier points at existing rates

Award cost changes will only apply for bookings made from 1 September 2017

More  Details

Earning Flying Club Miles When Flying Delta

I have attempted to summarise the changes in tabular form:

Overall this looks like good news for most travelers – unless you’re booking into Economy Class fare codes L, U or T you should be better off or at least no worse off than before these changes.

It’s interesting to see that Delta Comfort+ bookings earn at a higher rate than Delta’s new Premium Select (Premium Economy) cabin.

The new information page from Virgin Atlantic doesn’t mention the 50% and 100% status bonus that Silver & Gold members earn when flying on Delta so I tweeted Virgin Atlantic to see what they have to say:

There you have it – the Silver & Gold bonuses are staying in place.

Spending Flying Club Miles On Delta

The biggest change here is the introduction of seasons to Delta award redemptions.

Standard season dates:

  • 7 September – 12 December 2017
  • 7 January – 28 March 2018
  • 17 April – 21 June 2018
  • 7 September – 12 December 2018

Peak season dates:

  • 22 June – 6 September 2017
  • 13 December 2017 – 6 January 2018
  • 29 March – 16 April 2018
  • 22 June – 6 September 2018
  • 13 December – 31 December 2018

And the second biggest change is that awards originating in the US will no longer cost more than awards originating in the UK or Europe – your originating point will therefore affect how you view the changes to award rates as the tables below should hopefully show.

A Virgin Atlantic agent confirmed to me that only transatlantic award costs are changing (to align Virgin and Delta) all other awards on Delta (e.g inter-USA, USA to South American etc…) remain at the existing levels.

Main Cabin Awards – Standard Season 

Click to enlarge – Costs are for roundtrip travel

There is some very good news here for those booking Economy Class fares – 20,000 miles for a roundtrip award between the UK and the East coast is cheap.

Main Cabin Awards – Peak Season 

Click to enlarge – Costs are for roundtrip travel

Mixed news here depending on where you tend to originate.

The comparative award prices are simply the old award prices which were constant throughout the year.

Passengers originating in the UK will now pay slightly more for Economy Class awards on routes to destinations outside the East Coast during peak dates when compared to how much they would have paid at a similar time of year in the past.

Passengers originating in the US will now pay significantly less for Economy Class awards to the UK/Europe from all US destinations (during peak dates) as compared to how much they would have paid at a similar time of year in the past.

Delta One Awards – Standard Season

Click to enlarge – Costs are for roundtrip travel

This is where it gets painful!

UK-based flyers will see a 50% increase in award costs when booking Delta One flights to the West Coast while US flyers based on the West Coast see a 35% increase in the cost of a Delta One award to the UK/Europe.

The changes to other Delta One awards i Standard Season can probably be considered insignificant.

Delta One Awards – Peak Season

Click to enlarge – Costs are for roundtrip travel

If the Standard Season award changes to/from the west coast are considered painful then these have to be BRUTAL.

UK-based flyers will see an incredible 72% increase in the cost of a Delta One award to the west coast if they now wish to travel on dates in the newly introduced Peak Season while US-based flyers will be expected to pay 55% more for a Delta One award to the UK/Europe.

Other destinations don’t get off lightly either with award costs increasing between 15% and 28%.

Earning Tier Points On Delta

Lastly we come to Tier Point earnings on Delta and there aren’t going to be too many people reading this blog who are going to like what they see below:

Click to enlarge

Put simply:

  • Tier point earnings on flights under 3,000 miles will decrease between 47% and 80% depending on which class of service you book into.
  • Tier point earnings on flights over 3,000 miles booked into discounted fare codes will decrease between 0% and 50% depending on which class of service you book into.
  • Tier point earnings on flexible First Class and flexible Delta One bookings will increase by 60%

Thoughts

There’s good news and bad news here because what Virgin Atlantic gives with one hand it rips away with the other.

Mileage earnings on Delta flights will soon be a lot better than in the past (across most fare bookings) and the cost of most Economy Class transatlantic award have come down….but the changes to the Delta One award costs are brutal if you like flying to/from the West Coast.

On top of that, if you rely on Delta flights to earn you tier points towards Flying Club status you’re probably crying into your drink about now – those changes are big!

If you earn most of your miles from flying in Business Class/First Class then there’s a good chance that the new higher mileage earning rates will mostly offset any increases in award costs (discounted Business Class will now earns 50% more miles while, where award costs have gone up they’ve done so by between 6% and 72%)

Unfortunately not everyone is going to be that lucky.

Most Economy Class flyers are seeing no increase in their mileage earnings and yet will have to deal with award cost increases of up to 72% (ouch) while those who earn most of their miles from shopping or credit card churning will also suffer in the same way.

To my mind the most egregious changes have come in the Tier Point earning section and there’s really not much upside there for anyone who reads Traveling For Miles (I don’t expect many full-fare flyers read this little blog! 🙂 ).

I’m not a big Virgin or Delta flyer so I’d love to hear the opinions of those of you who will be affected by these changes – let me know what you think in the comments section below.

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