This is based on a classic post from bengalimilesguru.com that Scott has edited, updated, and expanded, so it is current as of publication.

Reader Maya sent me an article from One Mile at A Time where Lucky broke the news that Delta is currently not charging high fuel surcharge fees for travel with Virgin Australia! Until the change was made in early September, a roundtrip business class ticket from the US to Australia on Virgin Australia would cost 150k SkyMiles and ~$900 in taxes, fees, and surcharges.

The good news is that Delta still isn’t collecting surcharges on Virgin Australia flights. This may be a permanent change. The former $900 outlay has now been cut to $129 per person on roundtrips.

What are you getting for that 150k miles and $129? Virgin Australia business class is a world-class fully flat bed. And they even have a bar on board–which I doubt is useful, but there’s definitely a “cool factor” to an onboard bar.

Here’s information from Virgin Australia’s page on international business class:

Seating

  • 1.88 metre (six-foot-two) long fully horizontal flat bed
  • 77 inches (1.95 metres) of legroom
  • 23 inch (58.4cm) seat width
  • Privacy screen between seats
  • Laptop power, USB slot and reading light
  • 12.1 inch (30.7cm) in-flight entertainment screen

 

Also, if you already have a booking on any of these flights, call Delta at 1-800-323-2323 and ask to be directly transferred to International Reissue Desk. Any other agent is unable to refund the difference in surcharges. Fuel surcharges are able to be refunded to the credit card you used, so there should also be no need for a travel voucher, and there should be no change fee as well!

What’s Virgin Australia’s Availability?

Virgin Australia flies:

Brisbane (BNE) <-> Los Angeles (LAX)

Sydney (SYD) <-> Los Angeles (LAX)

Melbourne (MEL) <-> Los Angeles (LAX)

Virgin Australia flies from all three of those airports to destinations throughout Australia. Theoretically you should be able to connect to LAX on any Delta or Alaska flights without increasing the award’s miles-price. But Delta has such putrid low-level domestic availability that a positioning flight may be necessary.

Searching for Virgin Australia space is more of a pain than it should be. It starts easily enough. Go to delta.com, and type in your search, which will automatically bring up Virgin Australia space where it exists.

Delta.com shows space on individual days, but if you want to see the month-long calendar, the colors will be determined by Delta metal availability and won’t include Virgin Australia.

For instance, delta.com says in April that there is no low-level availability from LAX to Sydney:

But if you click on April 24, you will see there is low-level space on Virgin Australia.

That means you have to search one day at a time on delta.com or call 800-323-2323 to have an agent perform the task for you. If you call, be sure to avoid the phone fee: How to Avoid the Phone Fee on Award Bookings.

By poking around, you’ll see that Virgin Australia’s availability is fantastic even over Christmas and New Year’s.

If you searched united.com right now, you’d see that there is not a single low-miles-price award seat in economy, business, or first class on its flights from LAX and SFO to Sydney in December or January. Trying to use your AA miles to book today on Qantas during those months would be equally futile.

But there is space on December 22, the Saturday before Christmas, for a flight to Australia on Virgin Australia with Delta miles and low taxes.

And how about coming back January 3?

Other Search Tips

Delta has three levels of miles prices to Australia–low, medium, and high. Below is the per-direction price from the US to Australia assuming you fly a roundtrip. The first three are the low, medium, high economy prices. The last three are the same for business.

So the roundtrip business class price is 150k/240k/370k for low/medium/high redemptions. But if you see Virgin Australia space, it will always price at the low-level price like all partner award space.

That means if you see a higher price than 150k that includes Virgin Australia space, the problem is your domestic flights. You can either search segment by segment for better domestic space or drop the domestic space and buy positioning flights to Los Angeles.

If you decide to search segment by segment for domestic space, keep in mind that all layovers can be up to 24 hours.

Virgin is pure on this one. The price is Delta’s domestic segments’ fault.

Finally keep in mind the standard Delta rules: one stopover AND one open jaw and no oneways for half the roundtrip price.

Recap

Last month, the breaking news was the disappearance of $800 surcharges on Virgin Australia flights booked with Delta miles. At the time, we didn’t know if it was a temporary glitch or a permanent change. We still can’t be sure, but we can be sure that Delta still isn’t collecting surcharges!

Virgin Australia features a fantastic fully flat business class seat. Award space is bookable on delta.com as long as you search one day at a time.

Amazingly space is still available over Christmas and New Year’s. That is one of the most popular requests we handle through our Award Booking Service, and it is a request almost impossible to fulfill with United, US Airways, or American miles.

Bonus

AMEX Membership Rewards transfer instantly to Delta at a 1:1 rate. You will be charged $7 per 10k for the transfer though. SPG Starpoints transfer at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5k SkyMiles bonus for every increment of 20k Starpoints transferred. This is not an instant transfer.

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