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Obtaining miles and points is easy! Redeeming miles and points is easy too! Redeeming points and miles for “great value”…well, that’s a different ball game.
Redeeming points can be one of the most confusing aspects of this game, because in your search to travel from A->B, you will find a range of redemption rates. This concept can become even more frustrating if you’re like me and want to redeem points for “optimum value.”
One of the questions I receive the most is “If I redeem (X amount of miles) on (X airline), is that a good rate?” And the answer is “it depends.” How much do you want to be on THAT flight, on THAT date, going to THAT destination because there may be better options.
LET’S PLAY THE GAME “WOULD YOU RATHER…?”
Q1. Would you rather pay $200 or $400 (for the same exact seat on the same exact airplane) to fly one-way from NYC to Los Angeles?
If you said “$400,” send me your money through PayPal and I’ll put your travel on my credit card. 😉
It’s the same concept with miles…
Q2. Would you rather pay 20,000 or 40,000 miles (for the same exact seat on the same exact airplane) to fly one-way from NYC to Los Angeles?
No one wants to pay more than they have to but when you’re searching for award redemptions, this is exactly what happens. I enjoy practical examples because that’s how I learn concepts so let’s focus on a real life example.
Recently, I was searching for a one-way, economy ticket to travel from Atlanta, GA to Johannesburg, South Africa. In my research, I found a plethora of options but we’ll focus on a two options to understand the concept.
Option 1: Use Delta Skymiles to fly non-stop ATL-JNB (on Delta)
Option 2: Use Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles to fly non-stop ATL-JNB
I want to fly on April 1st. In example above, you’ll see that Delta will charge me 185,000 sky miles (+$5.60) to fly one-way from ATL-JNB. In the second chart, you’ll see that Virgin Atlantic will charge me 40,000 Flying Club miles (+$5.60).
Let’s take a closer look at both flights (Spoiler Alert: This is where is gets juicy good!)…
And now the Virgin Atlantic flight…
Notice anything interesting? You guessed it! They’re the same flight. In this case, there’s only one plane going from ATL-JNB at 8:22pm (or 20:22). This plane has “Delta” written on the side of it but Virgin Atlantic and Delta are partners thus Virgin is able to sell you a ticket on that same plane.
You will also see that it’s possible to fly Delta for 140,000 skymiles but you’re still paying 100,000 extra miles for the same flight.
So, let’s recap…would you rather spend 40,000 Virgin Fly Club Miles or 185,000 Delta Skymiles for the same exact seat, on the same exact plane?
One of the most frustrating situations in this game is realizing that a loyalty program you previously overlooked actually offers significant value.
Virgin Atlantic may not be one of the mileage programs that you are the most familiar with, but they are definitely worth paying attention to.
Typically, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club offers poor-value for partner bookings and imposes crazy surcharges and fees on award tickets so I largely ignored the program.
Fortunately for me, I understand that airlines are always changing their rules and award charts so it’s never ideal to completely delete a program from your repertoire.
I’m always looking for “sweetspots” and 185,000 miles (regardless of airline loyalty program) is a cRaZy amount of points to pay for an economy ticket. So before you buy a delta ticket, I would always recommend checking Virgin Atlantic’s award rates.
Have you used Virgin Atlantic to book Delta flights before? Has it saved you a bunch of miles?