Virgin Atlantic is a London-based airline that serves or has plans to serve 12 American airports. Virgin Atlantic releases a ton of award space in Upper Class between the United States and Europe in the last days and weeks before departure.

Detroit begins 6/1/15, Atlanta begins 10/27/14
Detroit begins 6/1/15, Atlanta begins 10/27/14

You can book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class with Delta miles. Delta currently charges 125,000 miles roundtrip to Europe in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class.

Last week, I looked at some of Virgin Atlantic’s new flights and asked whether booking Virgin Atlantic Upper Class was the best use of SkyMiles.

Starting January 1, 2015, you’ll be able to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for 62,500 Delta miles one way. Delta does not collect fuel surcharges on Upper Class flights.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is among the world’s best business classes because it features a fully flat bed, direct aisle access from every seat, an onboard bar, and fantastic lounges, especially in London.

I was daydreaming about flying Virgin Atlantic Upper Class home from Europe next summer, and I wondered: Does Virgin Atlantic release a lot of last minute award space on its routes?

I figure that if I am in Europe, and I do want to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class home, I’d book the ticket at the last minute to maintain maximum flexibility.

  • Does Virgin Atlantic release a lot of last minute award space on its routes?
  • How can you search and book Virgin Atlantic award space?
  • How can you save money when booking Virgin Atlantic award space?

The Search

You can search Virgin Atlantic award space on delta.com. Unfortunately you have to search day-by-day because Delta’s calendar doesn’t include Virgin Atlantic award space.

For instance, here is the delta.com calendar for award space between London and Los Angeles in September. It says that September 26 only has blue Peak priced award space. There are no green Saver dates.

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But September 26 actually has award space on Virgin Atlantic, and all partner space prices at the Saver level. Ignore the calendar on delta.com.

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For this post, I searched on awardnexus.com to make visualizing the Virgin Atlantic award space easier. The site searches other search engines (in this case delta.com) and puts the results on a nice calendar. Award Nexus is a paid service.

I searched for award space from September 25 to October 11 on three routes:

  • London-Heathrow to New York-JFK
  • London-Heathrow to Chicago-O’Hare
  • London-Heathrow to Los Angeles

Then I selected an option to only show the direct flights with Saver award space on the calendar. All of the space below is in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class. Some days with space from London to New York have space on two different Virgin Atlantic flights.

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As you can see, there’s space almost every day on one of these three routes.

Here’s a breakdown of the number of days with award space in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class the next 17 days:

  • 7 days: London-Heathrow to New York-JFK
  • 13 days: London-Heathrow to Chicago-O’Hare
  • 1 day: London-Heathrow to Los Angeles

That’s pretty excellent award space at the last minute, especially to Chicago.

Booking Virgin Atlantic Upper Class

You can book right on delta.com.

Save Money

All Virgin Atlantic flights to the United States depart the United Kingdom. If you depart the UK in a premium cabin, you pay the UK’s punitive taxes–about $315 per person one way!

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You can lower your tax bill by one flying Virgin Atlantic to the UK, and then returning from somewhere else in Europe. In this case, you pay a much lower transit tax.

Or you can just use the Virgin Atlantic flight for the transatlantic flight and connect to SkyTeam partners in Europe for no extra miles. For instance, flying to Amsterdam roundtrip, using Virgin Atlantic both ways costs only $157 out of pocket roundtrip, even though it transits London both ways.

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The Big Question in 2015

Next year, I hope to book myself a one way Virgin Atlantic flight for 62,500 Delta miles one way. I hope to start the award in a low tax European country to save on the taxes.

But the question is whether starting my one way award in Europe will incur punitive surcharges from Delta. Currently Delta charges a few hundred dollars to start a one way or roundtrip award in Europe. These are not fuel surcharges, just origination surcharges. No other airline does this, so it just seems like a money grab from Delta.

For instance, right now, you can book one way from London to Los Angeles on Virgin Atlantic for 125,000 Delta miles and 384 GBP ($626)! That’s about $300 in taxes and $300 because the award originates in Europe.

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Next year, will this award cost 62,500 miles + $626 or will it just cost 62,500 miles + taxes?

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