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Regular readers will know that I detest fuel (or “carrier-imposed” surcharges) on reward flights. Rewards are supposed to be free, or close enough… but they aren’t supposed to involve payments of hundreds of pounds! I am not alone in this… which is why rewards on Aer Lingus, Iberia, etc. are so popular amongst Avios collectors.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, however, has long been notorious for two things:
- Making it close to impossible to book rewards on partner airlines
- Charging substantial surcharges on Virgin Atlantic reward flights
In my opinion, this places Flying Club at a serious disadvantage to Avios. Not only can you book most partner rewards online via ba.com, but there won’t be any surcharges added to a substantial number of them.
In good news for Flying Club members, however, it is now possible to book rewards on Delta Airlines online on the Virgin Atlantic website. That said, there appear to be a number of bugs to be worked out, as the vast majority of city pairs are not recognised by the booking engine.
But after spending a couple of hours making dummy bookings of those city pairs that are allowed, one thing has become obvious… Flying Club will add surcharges to Delta rewards to/from the United Kingdom, but it DOES NOT add those surcharges to Delta rewards from the US to the rest of Europe.
Example 1 – Las Vegas to Manchester (via New York)
Flying Club will charge $500 (£380) for that one-way reward on Delta with a connection in New York… BOO…
Example 2 – Las Vegas to Paris (via Seattle)
Instead of $500, Flying Club will charge $5 if you decide to fly to Paris instead! I’m sure you won’t mind the extra 2,500 miles and any positioning costs…
Example 3 – Las Vegas to Amsterdam (via Minneapolis)
Yet again, it will only cost you $5 for a reward on Delta to Amsterdam…
Does it Work in the Other Direction?
Not so well it seems although 235 euros (£210) is still better than the ex-UK equivalent…
I suspect that this discrepancy – no Delta flights are supposed to have surcharges to be added – arises out of the terms of the Virgin Atlantic / Delta joint venture covering flights between the United Kingdom and the United States.
But this loophole means that Flying Club mileage collectors can consider booking a one-way reward with Avios (or a cheap Norwegian fare) to get TO the USA, and use their Flying Club miles to get back home. Or, if you are more of a globetrotter, to use your Flying Club miles to fly Delta Airlines to Asia or South America.
Hopefully the website quirks will continue. After all, it’s nice to confirm that this loophole exists, but ultimately availability will be better if lazy members must call Flying Club to search for more convenient flight options on Delta Airlines…