Delta SkyMiles has been my least favorite award program over the past couple of years. The reasons are numerous but they boil down to four main points: 1) no published award chart, 2) horribly expensive/inconsistent dynamic pricing for awards, 3) constant devaluations (with no notice), and 4) uninformed phone agents.
With all of those factors considered, I still touted Delta SkyMiles as a worthwhile program for certain redemptions. One of these redemptions was flying from North America to Europe via partner Virgin Atlantic in Upper Class. This costed a whopping 85,000 miles after the most recent devaluation, which of course came with zero notice, but was still a decent option since it only came with about $6 in total fees.
Now, Delta is back to its antics and is now charging huge fuel surcharges on Virgin Atlantic flights and it’s really bad.
I just booked Virgin Atlantic with Delta SkyMiles from LAX to LHR for a mere $5.60 in fees. Although it cost me a ridiculous 85,000 SkyMiles, I was okay with that since I found it very easy to accumulate a lot of Delta SkyMiles in a short times with credit card offers out there for 60K and 70K. Furthermore, I didn’t mind the exorbitant pricing because the fees were negligible.
But now that same ticket will cost you 85,000 miles plus $501 in fees. Keep in mind that this change, once again, came with zero notice.
A roundtrip will cost you a total of 170,000 miles, plus $1,262 in fees! Not only is 170,000 miles ridiculously expensive, but Delta has officially entered into British Airways territory with the fuel surcharges, charging over $1,200.
Fortunately, these fees don’t apply to Delta’s own flights so you can travel to Europe one way on Delta for around $5.60 plus 70,000 miles although a roundtrip will cost you around $780 in fees. Also, these fees have not been tacked on to the fares for economy and premium economy so there is still some value there.
These surcharges are for all for Virgin Atlantic flights departing from regions outside of Europe and North America, so if you were planning on flying from say DXB to LHR on Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class, you’d be paying a couple hundred bucks for fees.
I was fortunate to make my booking on VS with Delta SkyMiles just a couple of weeks before these new changes but this is a huge blow to anyone looking to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class with Delta SkyMiles. I’ve tried really hard to give the Delta SkyMiles program a chance but aside from some high credit card offers from Amex, they’ve given me every reason to avoid them with their constant devaluations which occur without notice.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.