Roundtrip in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for 100k Delta Miles and No Fuel Surcharges


A few weeks ago, Delta and Virgin Atlantic announced an enhanced partnership that included the option to redeem either type of miles for flights on the other carrier. For me this meant one thing, I could use my stash of Delta miles to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class.

I’ve been studying award availability on Virgin Atlantic flights on, and I can now report the gold mine routes for Upper Class award space from the US to the UK.

And the best part about the space is that it always prices out at 100k SkyMiles roundtrip–the same price as the regular Delta business product–with no fuel surcharges, just unavoidable government taxes.

How can you fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class?

I’ve wanted to get into Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for a while. I found an awesome way with Hawaiian Miles, but that possibility was taken away by Hawaiian devaluing its Virgin Atlantic award chart.

From the reviews I’ve read Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is the nicest business class option across the Atlantic, rivaling several carrier’s First Classes.

The flat bed that’s 6’6″ long and 33″ wide looks great, the on-board bar looks fun, and the Clubhouses on the ground look impressive.

Virgin America flies to several American cities including:

  • Boston
  • New York-JFK
  • Newark
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Miami
  • Washington-Dulles
  • Chicago
  • Orlando
  • Las Vegas

The flights mainly fly to and from London-Heathrow, but there are also daily departure to the US from London-Gatwick and Manchester.

If you search for award space in Upper Class using your Virgin Atlantic miles, you’ll find fantastic award space on most of these routes. Unfortunately Delta SkyMiles do not have access to the same award space.

I’ve done extensive searching on for award space in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, and I’ve only found good availability on two routes.

  • Orlando to Manchester (both directions)
  • London-Gatwick to Orlando (only west)

Both have great space next spring.

For instance, Orlando to Manchester there is award availability in Upper Class using SkyMiles eight days between April 25 and May 4, 2014. On the return, there is space almost every day between April 17 and May 17.

From London-Gatwick to Orlando, there is space on 10 days between May 5 and May 27, 2014.

You can mix-and-match these routes, and the award prices at 100k SkyMiles plus $248 in taxes, most of which comes from the $210 UK Air Passenger Duty for departing the UK in a premium cabin.

From Orlando, Delta connects to the following cities:

And Manchester and Gatwick connect to Europe on SkyTeam partners like Air France, KLM, Alitalia, and more.

Both the routes with award space are operated by 747s configured with 14 Upper Class seats in the nose in front of the on-board bar.

At London-Gatwick, there is a Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse for Upper Class passengers. At Manchester, there is not a Clubhouse, so Upper Class passengers have access to several other lounges. This makes flying out of Gatwick the more luxurious option.

Other Options

I did see one day with Heathrow to Newark award space in Upper Class, so there may be stray seats available on all the routes. There is better award space on routes not to the US like London to Delhi if that fits your plans.

Getting the Miles

Delta miles are very easy to get at the moment, and most people can get the 100k needed for a roundtrip in Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic by getting two cards.

The first card to get is the personal Delta SkyMiles card through the CARDMATCH tool. The CARDMATCH tool has a targeted offering of 45k bonus SkyMiles after spending $5k in six months, while the normal public offer is only 30k bonus SkyMiles. For more information on the offer, see Can You Get the 45k Delta SkyMiles Offer?

The second card to get is the Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express, which offers 50k bonus Membership Rewards after spending $5k in three months. Membership Rewards transfer 1:1 to Delta miles.

Getting both cards and meeting their minimum spending requirements would be 105k SkyMiles, more than you need to take the trips described in this post.


You can take a roundtrip in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class from the US to the UK for 100k SkyMiles and no fuel surcharges. Unfortunately Delta does not have access to much award space in Upper Class, but there is great space on Virgin Atlantic’s routes out of Orlando.

You can earn the miles you need to take this dream trip by opening two cards.

More info: CARDMATCH tool’s targeted Delta SkyMiles card offer

More info: Business Gold Rewards Card

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  1. I’m trying to build up right now to 300k Skymiles for 2 roundtrip biz tickets on Virgin Australia. If Delta devalues or switches to a revenue system, this may be a great alternative to drop 200k. It will be a choice between that and economy to Australia.

  2. Am I missing something? Couldn’t you transfer points from AmEx to Virgin Atlantic and have access to the more widely available VA award space? Or, are you just trying to find a good use for the Delta miles you have? Are Delta miles easier to get than Membership Rewards?

  3. This is exciting. Question: how can I determine the frequency with which VA flies its 747 from MCO to Manchester? By knowing this, I’ll know which days I should search for availability on DL’s website.

    Also, any insight into whether these flights have 2+ availability in VA Upper Class?

    • Just searched 1 seat. The way I figure out when a route is flown is to do a search at +/- 3 days and see what days I can buy a ticket.

  4. @ Melissa: Yes, I think the issue is that MR points (via AmEx) have higher opportunity cost. For instance, they can be redeemed for Singapore Air 1st class.

    Therefore, by using MR for DL, you’re missing out on other valuable redemptions.

    In contrast, DL has low availability, so your alternative uses for SkyMiles are low.

  5. This is very interesting to me, because we flew on Virgin Atlantic few years back in economy Orlando-Gatwick. We all agreed , that it was our best flight to Europe to date. The airline has this coolness factor for sure, but its not skin deep. I remember , the food was great. I have always avoided collecting Delta miles, but may reconsider now, since we regularly visit my family in Europe. I am guessing economy availability should be better, right?

  6. Scott,

    Noting the unavoidable departure fees on VA, I spent a few minutes seeing whether there were any lower-fee jurisdiction from which to depart in Business Class (on DL – ignoring VA).

    This is what I found: $344pp from CDG; $266pp from AMS; $320 from FCO; and $266 from ZRH.

    So it seems that, while you pay the fee on VA out of MAN/LHR, you’ll pay a similar/higher fee from most (all?) departure points in Europe.

    Are there any “Brazil-like” countries in Europe, where high fees are not charged?

    • No, but I’m a bit confused by your numbers. R/t business class to Madrid is under $100 in taxes if you avoid routing through expensive countries both ways.

  7. Noting that Delta’s award calendars often don’t accurately reflect award availability on partners, how did you search for these? Did you page through day by day looking at availability?

    Also, do you recall in what time frame the London to Delhi flights were available in Upper Class? I assume you searched for these using the website also but let me know if you used another method. THANK YOU!!!!

  8. Quote: “If you search for award space in Upper Class using your Virgin Atlantic miles, you’ll find fantastic award space on most of these routes. ”

    Your luck is clearly better than mine. Searching for London from Washington and/or Miami, I’m finding zero availability most months, with a few days max in the others.


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