Update: Perhaps this was a glitch, or a change that was released too early, because it appears that Virgin Atlantic awards are pricing normally again.
Although Delta has a terrible penchant for changing award prices without notice — a practice I believe is unfair and deceptive, we’ve known that,
- Even though Delta removed award charts from their website, they still price awards based on charts. In other words, there are fixed prices that correspond to different inventory levels.
- Partner awards are always saver awards, so we know prices on the saver award chart (and when those prices change) based on whatever price Delta charges for partner flights.
Two years ago I expected multiple award levels with partners. I thought this would roll out first with Air France, not accounting for Delta’s 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic.
We’re now seeing variable award pricing with a partner: Virgin Atlantic.
We ‘know’ that Delta charges 62,500 miles for transatlantic business class flights through the end of the year, and then they start charging 70,000 each way for travel starting January 1.
In the past whenever a Virgin Atlantic flight was available it would be 62,500 miles one-way. Now the price will vary.
For instance, here are (3) Virgin Atlantic flights next week that are 87,500 miles one-way
(HT: Steven S.):
To see the different levels, here’s a calendar of non-stop Washington Dulles – London availability in business class (which is necessarily Virgin Atlantic flights).
It’s worth noting that:
- Virgin Atlantic has only one award level and price, not multiple prices.
- Virgin Atlantic awards are available at the saver level, at saver prices, for Virgin members (and other partners) regardless of the price Delta is charging. So Delta is charging more miles on certain dates, but this isn’t driven by Virgin’s inventory levels.
When whether Delta is charging 62,500, 70,000, or 87,500 miles Virgin Atlantic’s own members are charges 40,000 miles.. plus fuel surcharges (which of course Delta adds to one-way awards originating in Europe but not originating in the U.S.).
On October 6, per the calendar above, Delta wants 87,500 miles for one-way Washington Dulles – London in business class. And Virgin Atlantic wants their standard 40,000, this is not a situation where Virgin is charging their members more miles or not making awards available at all.
It’s unclear then why Delta is doing this, other than that ‘they can’.