Virgin Atlantic Planning Another No-Notice Award Chart Change In A Matter Of Days

We woke up New Years Day to a massive no-notice devaluation of Virgin Atlantic miles for award travel on Delta, which had been one of the few good redemptions offered by the program which is a transfer partner of American Express, Citibank and Chase.

In the change short coach flights became less expensive, while long distance business class flights became much more expensive, in many cases more than doubling. However this may not be the last no-notice change Virgin Atlantic is making to these awards.

Two charts were published, one for travel between the U.S. and U.K. on Delta based on specific destination and a second chart based on distance flown which in general was much worse.

Prior to the no-notice devaluation Virgin Atlantic charged the following prices for business class awards on Delta:

  • South America 45,000 miles
  • Africa 60,000 miles
  • Australia 75,000 miles
  • Europe 50,000 miles

Here’s the one-way price now for flights between the U.S. and U.K.:

One-way Coach Off-Peak Coach Peak Business Off-Peak Business Peak
Boston/New York/Philadelphia 15,000 25,000 47,500 57,500
Atlanta/Detroit/Minneapolis 17,500 27,500 47,500 57,500
Porland, Salt Lake City 20,000 30,000 67,500 77,500

Peak travel dates are: 20 June 2020 – 6 September 2020, 12 December 2020 – 31 December 2020, 1 January 2021 – 5 January 2021, 26 March 2021 – 19 April 2021, 19 June 2021 – 5 September 2021, 15 October 2021 – 26 October 2021, 11 December 2021 – 31 December 2021

They actually consider dates in March 2021 to require peak pricing when Covid-19 is raging on both sides of the Atlantic. Seriously.

All other routes are distance-based for one-way redemption:

One-way distance Coach Business
0-500 7,500 17,500
501-1,000 8,500 27,500
1,001-1,500 11,500 40,000
1,501-2,000 12,500 45,000
2,001-3,000 15,000 52,500
3,001-4,000 22,500 80,000
4,001-5,000 27,500 105,000
5,001-6,000 35,000 130,000
6,001+ 45,000 165,000

Except, apparently, Virgin Atlantic isn’t done making changes according to U.K. site Head For Points.

According to a Virgin Atlantic spokesperson,

  • The less expensive chart is meant to apply to all European routes covered by the Delta-Virgin Atlantic joint venture, not just the U.K. (which would be great for Europe awards)

  • Except that Virgin Atlantic prices each flight segment separaetly, so it’s not clear how this would work (U.S. – U.K. price plus distance-based for any intra-European segment, and on which partner combination exactly?)

  • Especially since the distance-based chart would seemingly apply then only to flights that don’t involve Europe and the transatlantic J.V.

According to a Virgin Atlantic spokesperson,

With regards to US-Europe flights, we are still finalising the details on the pricing on these routes and the website does not currently reflect the final prices. This will be updated early next week and we will be in contact with clarification.

In other words Virgin Atlantic is planning to make another no-notice change to their award pricing for travel on Delta, it’s expected to come in a matter of days, and they don’t even know what it is yet. That’s perhaps the worst possible practice in loyalty.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. Virgin Atlantic has been decimated by the pandemic. Perhaps more so than other international airlines since their business relied on U.S. and U.K. flights. Do they actually think the 7 times daily (or whatever the volume was) flights between Heathrow and New York–JFK are coming back? This is not the time to be shafting loyal customers. They need customers to return to the skies. I wasn’t aware there were many Virgin Atlantic flights to Europe. Aren’t they predominantly flights to the U.K.? So perhaps the spokeswoman is hinting that Delta is pushing Virgin to expand so they can drop flights to Western Europe outside Paris and Amsterdam.

  2. I don’t think things can get worse, so perhaps this will be a change for the better?

    Then again, we live in a brave new world…

  3. @Matthew: Could you give any example of any carrier in the last year that changed to really benefit passengers? You are an admin of the other travel site, you want to be optimistic, this is you business… I get that and I love reading what you and Kyle write, but stating airline is changing for the better is not realistic here.

  4. @Matthew – it probably will get better, but that’s hardly the point, another unannounced pricing change in days without communicating to members isn’t how you run a program, least of all during a global pandemic, totally disrespectful of members!

  5. @T.
    Number of airlines did away with the expiration of miles as well as close in ticketing fee and change fee. Qatar airways revamped its award chart (for the better) and removed fuel surcharges on award tickets.

  6. I think i’ts fine and expected for programs to make changes but what irks me the most are the lack of notices! Definitely decreases customer loyalty (and I’ve been a VS gold member for 7 years now.)

  7. @Gary: So…a real life question. Clearly I’m not about to jump on ANA next week — not with Covid, I’m not — and I don’t have enough miles to do so anyway. So what does/can one do with VS miles? I don’t fly on Delta; they honestly don’t fly where I typically go to (in normal times), and I’m clearly not traveling to the UK anytime soon, either. I think it’s boiling down to either transferring the points to Marriott — which is certainly a devaluation, but at least I could use them — or sitting tight and taking the devaluation anyway. Either way…

  8. @ Takhliq Khan: You are right, I agree. That is a positive change for passengers. However, senior management/leaders always “think big” and it has to benefit the airlines first. Think about it- Who would purchase tickets with $300 change fee during the pandemic? Do airlines need to do something to retain customers? They must. Who brings in revenue in their mile/point program through credit card, shopping, hotel stay, car rental…? My point again is you are right that some positive changes for passengers, but it is for their survival, not truly “benefits out of nowhere for us”.

  9. @Jason Brandt Lewis – unclear that the ANA devaluation will come right away and consider that you can book nearly a year out into the future, Delta certainly covers a lot of transatlantic and I expect that the devaluation of US-Europe on Delta will be reversed somewhat in a few days. I do not think Virgin -> hotel points represents a reasonable deal any longer the way it used to 6-7 years ago.

    Virgin Atlantic’s business class awards on South African are actually pretty good…

  10. Who is a “loyal _____customer”? The guy who flew every month on an airline and earned their miles the old fashioned way or the guy who shops with a credit card, gets points or miles as a bonus, and then wants status- sometimes never having flown on that airline? Airlines need money right now, not passengers on free flights. They could really care less if you ever use your miles. If someone gets pissy, they can transfer their freebie flyer points somewhere else- airlines could care less since they are still going to get the revenue from the actual flyer. Turn and burn those points and miles

  11. Well it seems like VS has specified that the change is for Delta awards so that means it’s not an ANA devaluation coming, which is good. ANA actually may not care about VS’s pricing as ANA’s own mileage program charges a pretty low amount of miles for business/first awards.

  12. Guys they are not devaluing the points / miles as much as they are stopping devaluing theirs partners products, stopping giving away the redemptions for cheaper than their partners would and stopping paying more £s per mile to their partners than their partners are paying to them. If I want to use my Miles to fly between LHR and SEA, it makes zero sense for them to allow me to use 1/2 the number of miles on a different carrier. They still have a cost they have to pay to that partner and it’s not any cheaper if they charge me less miles.

  13. @ Gary — I find your reaction to this new no-notice change to be a bit of faux outrage. Apparently, the changes will be a back-pedaling of the first set of no-notice changes that DID deserve outrage. Keep in mind that Delta has done this three steps back, one step forward bs before. I am fairly sure that the first changes were no mistake and that the second set of changes were planned from the get-go. My advice to anyone with DL or VS miles is to burn them ALL before you spend another dime or accrue another mile on these airlines.

  14. 57.5k biz class to Europe sounds reasonable compared to what Skymiles charges for those UK flights

    Still some good value there

Comments are closed.