Try This Trick To Find Delta Award Space on Virgin Atlantic

by John Harper

So you want to use Virgin Atlantic to book a flight on Delta Air Lines. Unlike SkyMiles, Virgin Atlantic accepts points from both Chase Sapphire cards and Citi ThankYou Rewards, and the rates are pretty good, better than Delta’s SkyMiles rates, even. There’s just one problem: Virgin Atlantic’s website won’t search for miles tickets under any of Delta’s destinations!

Using Delta’s website is not an option either. Delta releases different seats to its partners like Virgin Atlantic than it does to its own SkyMiles members. Fortunately, there are a couple of tricks to making the Delta magic happen online.

Using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club to book Delta One seats

It is possible to fly Delta One business class to places like Asia and Australia using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles (or Chase and Citi rewards points), but you may have to trick Virgin Atlantic’s website to show you which flights are available with miles. Image by Delta Air Lines.

First, if you need to rack up some extra points to make that leap across an ocean, The Platinum Card from American Express, Citi’ ThankYou Premier Card and Chase’s Ink Business Preferred card all have generous introductory bonuses right now.

Tricking Virgin Atlantic’s Website to Show Awards

It turns out Virgin Atlantic’s online search tool actually can look for Delta miles tickets, you just have to get around a small programming glitch.

Input a city pair that isn’t served by Virgin Atlantic — Los Angeles International (LAX) to Sydney (SYD) for example — and the website greys out the option to ‘Pay with Miles’.

Booking Delta flights using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Put in a destination that Virgin Atlantic partners Delta or Virgin Australia serve, and the ‘Pay with Miles’ option vanishes.

There is a crafty way around this problem, and it’s actually fairly easy to navigate.

First, we need to get that red dot moved over to the ‘Pay with miles’ selector. To do that, we will have to put in a Virgin Atlantic destination. London is obvious enough.

Booking Delta flights using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Virgin Atlantic’s website will most certainly allow you to search mileage awards from Los Angeles to London.

Once you’ve got that pesky red dot squarely next to ‘Pay with miles’, go back up to the destination field and click on the map pin symbol (purple) next to the destination. This pulls up a menu of destinations that can be searched by region, country or simply alphabetically.

Booking Delta flights using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

This menu doesn’t include every Delta destination, but it includes many, Sydney being one. You can also see Sun Valley, Syracuse and Tallahassee here — certainly not Virgin Atlantic destinations.

Voila! Sydney sticks, as does your Pay with Miles selection. Advance to Search for Flights and you will see Delta flights, neatly arranged in the calendar.

Booking Delta flights using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

These nonstops are all operated by Delta. Economy availability on this route is fairly easy to come by. Delta One is rare, but possible at a very reasonable 75,000 miles to Australia, one-way.

Delta makes a fair number of seats available to Virgin Atlantic on many of its long-haul routes. Economy awards are easy to come by. Delta One business class seats are somewhat more sparse, but when they are available they usually cost less than comparable SkyMiles redemption rates.

Chase, Citi and Amex points transfer instantly to Virgin Atlantic, so once you’ve found a flight that works, move the points over and repeat this method to complete the booking.

Great, but what if my destination isn’t included in that drop-down list?

The weakness of this method is that you’re being given a fixed list of destinations. But what if you want to use Virgin Atlantic Flying Club to book Delta flights to cities that aren’t on this list? New Orleans, for instance?

Generally, any mileage award availability that Delta opens to its SkyTeam partners, like Air France and KLM, it also makes available to Virgin Atlantic.

Air France Flying Blue has a very intuitive mileage search tool, which you have to log in to a Flying Blue account to access. Fortunately, Flying Blue accounts are free and can be set up online in a matter of minutes.

Searching for Delta mileage points seats using Air France, for use on Virgin Atlantic

Once a Flying Blue account is set up, accessing the Mileage Award Ticket search is as easy as clicking this tab.

One potential snafu that might prevent you from finding the result you seek is that oh-so-attractive “Looking For Flights Around These Dates” calendar. This is a great tool when you’re looking for Air France or KLM flights, but unfortunately, it still blocks availability on some SkyTeam partners, including Delta.

To find the open Delta seats, you’ll need to search one day at a time.

Using Air France to find Delta points and miles seats for Virgin Atlantic flying club

This won’t work when you’re looking for Delta flights, and will likely return an error.

With a membership to a service like ExpertFlyer, it is possible to view Delta flight availability across multiple days.

Using Expert Flyer to find Delta miles and points seats available to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members

ExpertFlyer will show the seats that Delta makes available to its partners, in chunks of up to seven days at a time.

Any Delta flight with seats open to Air France should also be open to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members. Just call Virgin Atlantic Flying Club — 1-800-365-9500 — to book.

Using Air France to search for Delta points and miles seats for Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members

Delta flights, bookable using points and miles partners including Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

Of course, Air France-KLM Flying Blue is also a Chase, Citi and American Express transfer partner. Sometimes Air France charges lower mileage rates than Virgin Atlantic Flying Club for the same flights. In many cases, like our LAX to Sydney example, Flying Club is the best way to go.

Upshot

While Delta has made its own SkyMiles program, an American Express transfer partner, increasingly volatile and confusing to use, the airline still releases consistently priced fix-mileage awards to its partners.

Using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club to book Delta flights remains one of the better values on many routes. Those able to find a 75,000-mile Delta One West Coast to Australia flight, for instance, are enjoying one of the best remaining values out there for luxury travel down under.

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3 comments
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3 comments

Nathan Wall June 6, 2019 - 4:56 am

The Virgin site workaround doesn’t work anymore. The red dot will not move if you refine search. It defaults back to pay with cash and won’t budge.

Reply
Allen August 12, 2019 - 9:22 pm

Thanks for the post, John. I’m starting to dabble into using VA miles for Delta and am trying to use ExpertFlyer in searching for availability. Right now I’m seeing available J in ExpertFlyer, but Virgin is bringing up the “There are no seats found for your search.” message. What would you do in this case? Is the data on either place inaccurate?

Reply
John Harper August 12, 2019 - 9:47 pm

Thanks, Allen!

First things first, I’m presuming by J you mean you’re seeing business class available seats in the award search, but just to make sure, be sure you are looking ‘O’ inventory (awards), not ‘J’ inventory (paid business class). If you’re not getting the flights to come up on Virgin, I’d recommend cross-checking with another Delta partner (usually I use Air France Flying Blue) to see if the seats are available there. If they are, I’d call Virgin and ask what’s up.

Cheers!
John

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