One of Delta’s more exciting airline partners is Virgin Australia, which operates multiple daily flights between Los Angeles and Australia (including Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane). At the beginning the partnership was awesome because Virgin Australia had a ton of business class award space to Australia, which is otherwise one of the toughest markets in the world to get award tickets to.
In May of this year Delta made our lives a bit easier by adding the functionality to search Virgin Australia award space online, allowing us to bypass Delta’s rather incompetent SkyMiles agents. Even so, the partnership wasn’t as exciting as it originally was for a couple of reasons. First of all, award space on Virgin Australia really dried up compared to what it was at the beginning, and at the time I could only find a couple of award seats in business class over the entire year. But equally frustrating is that Delta imposes fuel surcharges for redemptions on Virgin Australia, and they kept creeping up, to the point that a roundtrip award ticket cost $800+ in taxes/fees/fuel surcharges.
As you can see below, for a roundtrip between Los Angeles and Sydney the fuel surcharges (YQ) alone total $780, plus all the other taxes, for a total of roughly $950 (the only thing you don’t pay on an award ticket on Virgin Australia is the base fare, which is the first two totals below).
Anyway, there has never been a better time to redeem for award travel on Virgin Australia using Delta SkyMiles because for whatever reason Delta isn’t presently imposing fuel surcharges on Virgin Australia award redemptions. I’m not sure whether it’s a glitch or a positive change on the part of Delta (I have to assume it’s the former, since we are talking about Delta here), so if you’ve been eying an award ticket on Virgin Australia, now is the time to book it. As you can see below, the total taxes and fees on a Virgin Australia award ticket are under $150 roundtrip at the moment.
Equally great is that award space on Virgin Australia is once again excellent, much better than when I last wrote about it in May. I just snagged a business class award seat for mid-December, which is otherwise unheard of this late in the game. And I even managed to redeem 22,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night for the Park Hyatt Sydney, which is arguable the best Hyatt property in the world, given that it just reopened after a year-long renovation and rates are typically $900USD+ per night.
Virgin Australia has a fantastic fully flat business class product which looks pretty snazzy, so I’m excited to try it out.
The easiest way to search Virgin Australia award space is probably on delta.com. To make things easy I always just search as one-ways using their award tool, entering LAX to either Sydney (SYD), Melbourne (MEL), or Brisbane (BNE), and doing the same for the return. If there’s saver coach award space it should show up at 100,000 SkyMiles, while if there’s business class award space it should up at 150,000 SkyMiles.
Once you find the flights you want just search them at the same time (if it’s a roundtrip just use the “roundtrip” function, or if you want to fly into one city and out of another in Australia use the “multi-city” function). It should price automatically and easily be bookable online.
I should also mention that Delta lets you route from the US to Australia via Asia, so if you’d like you can fly China Southern in one direction on their new Airbus 380 via Guangzhou, or Korean Air on their Airbus 380 via Seoul Incheon. However, those awards would need to be booked by phone. For this trip I decided to fly Virgin Australia roundtrip, as I plan on trying those two products in the near future.
Now I know some people are going to slam me for posting this. Let me say this upfront — I try to use discretion with what I post. To that end, I’ve been a bit disappointed with “tricks” some fellow bloggers have revealed over the past couple of weeks, since I think revealing them did more harm than good, though at times we all screw up (and I’m definitely included there). The way I decide on which “deals” to share is based on what I think will bring the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people. In this case I suspect Delta accidentally isn’t adding fuel surcharges to Virgin Australia award tickets, and it will be fixed in the next few days one way or another. I first noticed the lack of fuel surcharges last night while booking an award to Australia for a client, and now it’s a Saturday night, so I suspect this likely won’t be fixed till Monday (though I certainly could be wrong).
If this was a trick that has been around for ages and I knew of dozens of people that used it without issue, I probably wouldn’t blog about it, because I don’t think that’s fair to that group of people, as it may have gone unnoticed for months to come. However in this case I’m using my best discretion and believe that the most people will benefit by this being shared rather than keeping it secret. Or who knows, maybe it’s not a secret and an actual policy change on the part of Delta — it’s anyone’s guess!
Anyway, if anyone has any questions, just let me know! Hopefully this allows some of you to go “down under.”