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Transferring flexible currency—including Capital One Miles—to partner loyalty programs can provide the greatest value compared to other uses of these miles. 

For Capital One, there are 15 airline partner programs. We have several related articles about Capital One transfer partners:

In this article, we’re focusing on details about Capital One’s three SkyTeam alliance partners: Aeroméxico Rewards, Air France-KLM Flying Blue and Virgin Red / Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, and two non-alliance partners: Emirates Skywards and Etihad Guest.

Aeroméxico is a SkyTeam member that also has several non-alliance partners.

Aeroméxico Rewards 

Aeroméxico, Mexico’s flagship airline, is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points and Marriott Bonvoy.

Aeroméxico’s loyalty program, formally known as Club Premier, was renamed Aeroméxico Rewards in April 2023.

Aeroméxico is a SkyTeam member that also has several non-alliance partners, including Avianca, Copa Airlines, Gol Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes and LATAM Airlines.

Aeroméxico awards are priced in kilometers instead of miles, which means that each point is worth less than most other airline loyalty programs’ currency. To compare Aeroméxico’s award prices to other airline programs, you should divide by 1.6.

Despite the lower value of each Aeroméxico Rewards point, Capital One Miles transfer 1:1 to Aeroméxico. If you want to transfer points to Aeroméxico, it would be better to transfer American Express Membership Rewards, which transfer at a ratio of 1:1.6, meaning every 1,000 Membership Rewards points convert to 1,600 Aeroméxico points.

Aeroméxico generally is considered one of the weaker Capital One transfer options, given the program’s award pricing and Capital One’s transfer ratio. Better value within Aeroméxico’s program may be available for long-haul business class and round-the-world awards.

Air France and KLM are in the SkyTeam alliance, and Flying Blue has more than 30 total airline partners.

Air France-KLM Flying Blue

Flying Blue allows transfers from American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Capital One Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points and Marriott Bonvoy, so it’s easy to accumulate these miles.

Air France and KLM are in the SkyTeam alliance, and Flying Blue has more than 30 total airline partners.

The Flying Blue program has variable award pricing. You can use the website’s estimate tool, which provides low-level award prices, to get an indication if rates displayed when searching for specific city pairs represent a decent redemption rate for the route and class of service.

Award prices vary significantly and can be either competitive with other programs or ridiculously high. In the example below, business-class award prices from Washington (IAD) to Rome (FCO) within a single month range from 69,000 miles to 10 times that number. It’s definitely worth being flexible about travel dates when considering Flying Blue awards.

One of the best ways to use Flying Blue miles is to book their discounted Promo Rewards. Destinations eligible for promotional rates are released on the first business day of each month and allow travel over a six-month period. The lowest award rates are discounted by either 25% or 50%. An example of Promo Rewards include one-way economy awards between Europe and select U.S. cities starting at 11,250 miles.

Promo Rewards are sometimes available for business-class flights. For example, a one-way business-class redemption rate for a flight from Washington to Paris below is 52,500 miles, which is 25% off the lowest award price of 70,000 miles for the route.

Flying Blue also is in a small group of programs that offer stopovers longer than 24 hours on one-way awards at no extra cost. The ability to include stopovers re-started in late 2022 for Air France and KLM flights, and by July 2023, free stopovers had expanded to include partner airlines.

There are a few caveats with the stopover awards. They must be booked by phone. They also require that the origin to destination is a valid routing and all segments have the lowest priced award availability.

Another Flying Blue program benefit is an award discount for children ages 2 to 11. This discount applies only to flights operated by Air France and KLM. Discounts are 25% for long-haul flights and 33% for short-haul flights. So, if a long-haul route, such as between the U.S. and Europe, costs 60,000 miles for an adult, it would cost 45,000 miles for a child.

You may want to consider using Flying Blue miles for Delta Air Lines-operated flights within North America, since Air France award rates may be lower than Delta SkyMiles rates. However, opportunities are limited to flights where Delta makes awards available to partner airlines.

One negative aspect of Flying Blue awards is that the program imposes fuel surcharges with many carriers. This can be up to a few hundred dollars per one-way award, so that’s something to consider when comparing Flying Blue awards to other programs’ awards that might require more miles but have lower fees. Air Europa is a Flying Blue partner that operates flights between the U.S. and Madrid and has much lower surcharges than Air France or KLM.

Emirates
Emirates Skywards is a transfer partner with the following transferable currency programs: American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Capital One Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points and Marriott Bonvoy. This makes it easy to accumulate program miles.

Emirates Skywards

Emirates Skywards is a transfer partner with the following transferable currency programs: American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Capital One Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points and Marriott Bonvoy. This makes it easy to accumulate program miles.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates-based Emirates isn’t a member of an alliance, but it has partnerships with several other airlines, including United Airlines.

While Emirates is known for its luxurious first- and business-class cabins, redeeming Emirates Skywards miles for premium-cabin awards has become increasingly expensive following a series of award price increases in 2022 and early 2023.

Furthermore, Emirates’ less expensive “Saver” awards are available only for round-trip purchases in economy, premium economy and business class. “Flex” awards, which can be used for one-way tickets, cost significantly more. First-class redemptions always price at the Flex level. Finally, Emirates has high fuel surcharges on its flights to and from Dubai.

Emirates doesn’t publish an award chart, but the Skywards program has fixed redemption rates. The website’s miles calculator can be used to determine award pricing by entering the type of ticket (one-way or return), origin, destination and class of service. You have to search for specific flights to see the taxes and fees. As an example, a one-way first-class award from New York (JFK) to Dubai (DXB) is 163,500 Skywards miles + $838.

A niche redemption through Emirates that might be useful for some people is Emirates fifth-freedom flights between the U.S. and Europe. These flights are limited to the following city pairs: New York (JFK) to Milan (MXP) and Newark, New Jersey (EWR), to Athens, Greece (ATH). 

At the time of writing, a round-trip business-class Saver award costs 108,000 miles, which provides good value if the routes are convenient. A business-class Flex award costs 87,000 miles each way (or 174,000 miles for a round-trip flight).

Emirates

Etihad Guest

Etihad Guest is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points and Marriott Bonvoy. Participation in three of the four major bank transferable currency programs makes it fairly easy to accrue Etihad Guest miles.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates-based Etihad isn’t a member of an alliance, but it has partnerships with many other airlines across different alliances. Etihad used to have separate award charts for each partner, with some sweet spots offering lower award prices than competitors—for example, on American Airlines and Royal Air Maroc flights.

In March 2023, Etihad simplified its program to have two award charts with distance-based pricing. One chart is for flights on Etihad, and the other is for flights on partner airlines. Unfortunately, the program changes eliminated the sweet spot redemptions and implemented higher award prices for most distance zones. There may be specific instances in which the new award pricing works for some people, but generally, the change is a huge devaluation.

Etihad Airways
Etihad Airways

Etihad Guest provides a miles calculator to show how much a specific award could cost, subject to Saver award availability on partner airlines and “GuestSeats” availability on Etihad. The calculator can be used only for the airlines that can be booked online, which at the time of writing includes Etihad, American Airlines and Virgin Australia.

Using the calculator shows another disappointing aspect of the current award chart, namely that awards are priced per segment. For example, in each class of service, the one-way award rate on Etihad flights from New York to Bangkok is the sum of the award prices for the two segments. 

The following award prices apply to economy, business and first-class respectively:

  • New York (JFK) to Abu Dhabi (AUH) for 60,000 / 110,000 / 220,000 miles
  • Abu Dhabi (AUH) to Bangkok (BKK) for 32,000 / 70,000 / 140,000 miles
  • New York (JFK) to Bangkok for 92,000 / 180,000 / 360,000 miles

Furthermore, actual award prices could be significantly more than the calculator or award chart indicates. Etihad notes on its award chart page that “a premium redemption fare will be applied based on demand and availability.” 

We’ve looked for both close travel dates and dates toward the end of the booking window, and couldn’t find any dates with award prices under 571,501 miles each way for business class from New York to Abu Dhabi. This is more than 5 times the number of miles displayed in the calculator or award chart.

Given changes to Etihad Guest award pricing, transferring Capital One Miles to the program doesn’t provide good value now.

Virgin Atlantic joined the SkyTeam alliance in March 2023 and has airline partners within and outside the alliance.

Virgin Red 

Virgin Red is the parent company of Virgin Atlantic. Most flexible currencies transfer directly to Virgin Atlantic’s loyalty program, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Capital One Miles transfer to Virgin Red. However, Virgin Red points can be used to book flights through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. 

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and Virgin Red allow transfers from American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Capital One Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points and Marriott Bonvoy. Going forward, we’ll just refer to the airline and its loyalty program, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

Virgin Atlantic joined the SkyTeam alliance in March 2023 and has airline partners within and outside the alliance. Award structure and pricing vary depending on which airline operates the flight. To see each partner’s award details, click on the airline’s logo on the linked partner page and review content under “Spend Virgin Points.”

A few things to know about Virgin Atlantic awards are:

  • For some SkyTeam partners, Virgin Atlantic has a distance-based award chart, and flights are priced by segment. This makes connecting flights more expensive than nonstop flights.
  • Virgin Atlantic has separate award charts for each non-alliance partner.
  • Award flight booking method varies for each partner. At the time of writing, the following partners can be booked online: Air France, China Airlines, Delta, ITA Airways, KLM, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines and XiamenAir. Virgin Atlantic is continuing to add partners that can be booked online. Booking award flights on other partners requires calling Virgin Atlantic.
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club uses region-based award charts for Virgin Atlantic flights, and the airline has peak and standard dates. Award charts show round-trip pricing between each region and the United Kingdom, but a one-way flight can be booked for half the number of points. Virgin Atlantic awards are available in economy, premium economy and Upper Class (business class).
  • Virgin Atlantic also has a tool for finding reward availability, that identifies award space between an origin and destination for a month. At the time of writing, the tool is limited to nonstop Virgin Atlantic and Delta flights.

There are some advantages and disadvantages with Virgin Atlantic redemptions. On the positive side:

  • Award rates on many routes are low, especially during standard dates. For example, one-way flights on Virgin Atlantic flights between the eastern United States and the U.K. are 10,000, 17,500 and 42,500 points in economy, premium economy and business class, respectively. There also are some options for partner awards for fewer miles than other programs charge.
  • The program guarantees a minimum of 12 reward seats on all Virgin Atlantic-operated long-haul flights, including eight seats in economy, two in premium economy and two in business class.

The biggest downside of booking through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is that taxes and fees often are high, especially for the airline’s own flights and flights to and from the U.K. The following example shows the round-trip points and cash cost for flights between Washington-Dulles (IAD) and London-Heathrow (LHR).

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic is similar to British Airways, with both airlines charging higher fees on departures from London and in premium cabins. Virgin Atlantic assesses fuel surcharges on its own flights and passes on other airlines’ fuel surcharges. There’s also a significant United Kingdom Air Passenger Duty (APD) on departures from the U.K. The APD varies based on time spent in the U.K. and class of service.

For the example above:

  • Total taxes and fees for the one-way flight from the U.S. to the U.K. are $151.70, $426.70 or $876.70 in each class of service. Carrier-imposed fees (fuel surcharges) are $125, $400 or $800 for economy, premium economy and business class, respectively. For all classes of service, other taxes are $26.70.
  • Total taxes and fees for the U.S. to U.K. flight are approximately 30.5% (economy), 36.2% (premium economy) and 42.2% (business) of the round-trip taxes and fees. That means that almost 58% to 70% fees are related to the U.K. to U.S. flight.

Whether the lower number of points needed for Virgin Atlantic awards compensate for higher taxes and fees depends on individual preferences regarding out-of-pocket spending and valuation of rewards. 

For the example below, let’s assume that miles are valued at 1.5 cents each. You can look at this two ways:

  • Compare Virgin Atlantic Flying Club redemption to cash prices for a similar flight. Multiply the miles required by 0.015 (or preferred mile value) and add the result to the award ticket taxes and fees. The one-way economy award ticket full cost to compare to a cash ticket cost would be 10,000 x 0.015 = $150 + $151.70 = $301.70.
  • Compare Virgin Atlantic award rate to award flights through other programs with lower fees. Divide the Virgin Atlantic fuel surcharge amount by your points valuation and add the result to the mileage cost for the Virgin Atlantic redemption. Using the same example, the economy ticket has $125 in fuel surcharges, and $125 divided by 0.015 is 8,333. The adjusted award cost to compare to other airlines’ awards that don’t impose fuel surcharges is 10,000 + 8,333 = 18,333 points.

Another downside of the program is that having multiple award charts for different airlines and needing to book some awards by phone increases the complexity of booking award flights.

There are some strong partner award options through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, but it’s always important to consider fees for award tickets and recognize that partner awards require that the operating airline make award space available to Virgin Atlantic. Award availability, especially in premium cabins, can be almost nonexistent. We’re sharing a few examples of good award pricing on partner flights.

ANA business- and first-class flights between Japan and North America: Redeeming points through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club for travel on ANA has been considered among the best award sweet spots for years. Although award prices increased for first-class awards in early 2023, first-class awards still represent good value, and business-class awards represent excellent value.

Award availability is limited, and searches and booking can’t be done online with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Instead, you can use a Star Alliance partner, such as United MileagePlus or Air Canada Aeroplan, to search for award availability and then call Virgin Atlantic Flying Club to book the flights you find.

The award chart shows round-trip pricing for all classes of service and regions, and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club passes on ANA fuel surcharges. Unlike many other airlines, ANA fuel surcharges vary depending on the price of fuel and are the same for all classes of service. We’re highlighting some popular one-way award prices:

  • Awards between Japan and the western U.S. and Canada require 45,000 points for business class and 72,500 points for first class. 
  • Awards between Japan and central or eastern U.S. or Mexico require 47,500 points for business class or 85,000 points for first class.
  • Awards between Japan and Hawaii require 35,000 points for business class or 57,500 points for first class.

Air France and KLM flights: Virgin Atlantic’s Air France and KLM award charts are a combination of distance-based and region-based pricing. More specifically, distances up to 1,800 miles use distance-based pricing, while longer flights use region-based pricing. Peak and off-peak dates impact award price. The easiest way to determine award availability and pricing is to search for your desired origin, destination, class of service and dates.

It’s possible to travel one way between parts of the U.S. and Europe starting at 12,000 points in economy or 48,500 points in business class, and fees usually are less compared to Virgin Atlantic flights. The example below is a nonstop flight on Air France from Newark (EWR) to Paris (CDG).

Virgin Atlantic

Delta flights: The award charts used for travel on Delta-operated flights vary depending on origin and destination with separate charts for: 

  • U.K. to U.S. nonstop flights
  • Europe (excluding the U.K.) to U.S. nonstop flights
  • Delta-operated flights in other regions 

When considering these awards, keep the following in mind:

  • The U.K. and Europe charts note that awards are to the U.S., but the same award rates apply to awards originating in the U.S. for travel to the U.K. and Europe. 
  • All prices are per segment, so connecting flights require more miles. 
  • Delta flights outside Europe are priced based on distance bands.
  • The U.K. chart displayed below has different rates, reflecting variation for peak and off-peak dates and different parts of the U.S.
Virgin Atlantic

One-way, nonstop flights between the U.S. and Europe (except the U.K.) cost 30,000 points for economy or 50,000 points for Delta One. It’s difficult to find Delta One award availability, and Delta economy awards require significantly more miles compared to booking Air France or KLM flights through Virgin Atlantic.

One advantage of using Virgin Atlantic to book Delta business-class flights from the U.S. to Europe is lower fees, since Delta doesn’t impose fuel surcharges on flights originating in the U.S.

If you want to check award availability over a longer period on a specific Delta nonstop route, Frequent Miler discusses how to use the Virgin Atlantic award seat tool for this purpose.

Partner flights with distance-based pricing: You may want to check Virgin Atlantic Flying Club for Air France, KLM, Delta or other partner-operated flights within different regions, such as Delta flights within North America. These awards use distance-based charts, and awards through a partner’s program sometimes price lower than redemptions through the operating carrier’s program.

In addition, Virgin Atlantic has a distance-based chart for ITA Airways. Although business-class award rates between the U.S. and Europe require significantly more points (75,000 to 100,000 each way) compared to award flights on Air France, Delta or KLM, this option might be worth considering for nonstop flights to Italy without fuel surcharges. With Lufthansa expected to acquire ITA Airways, it’s not clear how long Virgin Atlantic redemptions on ITA Airways will be possible.

Final Thoughts

If you have Capital One Miles and want to travel on SkyTeam alliance airlines, including Delta, or other airlines that are non-alliance partners of the SkyTeam Capital One transfer partners, there are some opportunities to get good redemption values. In particular, the Flying Blue and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club programs have a wide range of useful award options.

Non-alliance partners Emirates and Etihad provide some redemption opportunities for premium-cabin travel on flights operated by these airlines that may not have award availability through other programs, but Emirates and Etihad awards often are priced high.