Update 3/2/23: Virgin Atlantic seems to have changed their code to no longer allow entering city pairs that can’t be found in the drop-down selectors.
Earlier today, Stephen wrote about Virgin Atlantic’s fantastic new award availability calendar. While the tool is currently only intended to be used to find Delta or Virgin Atlantic award availability to or from England, it turns out that it is easy to trick the tool into searching for ANY nonstop Delta route. When you use the tool to search for Delta awards, it shows seats that are available to book with Delta’s partners such as Virgin Atlantic and Air France. That’s important because it is often the case that partners charge far fewer miles than Delta for the same flights. In this post I’ll show you how to use the tool to find Delta award availability, and then I’ll show examples of how you can use this to save huge numbers of miles.
How to find Delta partner award availability
- Start with Virgin Atlantic’s Reward Flight Finder, here
- Select Flying with Delta Air Lines
- It doesn’t matter what airports are in the From and To boxes
- Click “Check for reward seats”.
- Trick: Change the origin and destination airports in the URL
- Make sure to use all capital letters for the airport codes
- Only include airport pairs where Delta has a nonstop flight. This tool won’t check for connecting flight availability.
I believe that only that step 5, above, requires explanation. Once you follow steps 1-4, the URL in your browser should look something like this:
See how the URL says “origin=LHR” and “destination=ATL”? All you have to do is change the origin and destination airports to match the route you want. For example, suppose you want to fly from Atlanta (ATL) to the Bahamas (NAS). You can simply change the above URL to this:
It’s important to note that lowercase letters don’t work for the airport codes. And this tool will check only for nonstop flights.
With the above URL, I got the following results:
Where it says “Upper Class,” it shows the number of Delta first class or Delta One seats available to be booked with partner miles. “Premium” is for Premium Select, but I’m not at all sure that Virgin Atlantic can see or book Delta Premium Select seats. “Economy” is the same as Delta’s Main Cabin seating.
If you want to see other months, simply click the buttons at the top-right of the calendar to progress forwards or backwards. Alternatively, you could change the part of the URL that says “month=06&year=2023”.
Better pricing with partners
Once you find Delta award availability, you can compare Delta’s own pricing to partners like Virgin Atlantic and Air France. Often you’ll find much better pricing through a partner. Don’t worry if you don’t have Virgin Atlantic or Air France miles. Both transfer from many different transferable points programs:
|Rewards Program||Amex Transfer Ratio|
(and transfer time)
|Chase Transfer Ratio|
(and transfer time)
|Citi Transfer Ratio|
(and transfer time)
|Marriott Transfer Ratio|
(and transfer time)
|Capital One Transfer Ratio|
(and transfer time)
|Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
|Air France KLM Flying Blue||1 to 1 (~10 minutes to 1 day)||1 to 1 (Instant)||1 to 1 (Instant)||60K to 25K (1 to 3 days)||1 to 1 (Instant)||1 to 1 (~1 Minute)|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1 to 1 (Instant)||1 to 1 (Instant)||1 to 1 (Instant)||60K to 25K (1 to 2 days)||1 to 1 (Unknown)||1 to 1 (~1 Minute)|
Atlanta to Nassau, Bahamas
The award calendar shows lots of economy and first class availability from Atlanta to Nassau on June 27th. Let’s look at the cost to book this flight with Delta directly vs. Virgin Atlantic and Air France….
Delta wants 19,000 miles for main cabin economy, or 49,000 for first class:
Booking with Air France Flying Blue, you get a better price in economy (13,000 miles), but a worse first class price (55,000):
Virgin Atlantic is the clear winner in either economy or first class:
As you can see above, Virgin Atlantic miles are the best option, by far, for booking Delta from Atlanta to Nassau!
Amsterdam to Detroit Business Class
One famous best use for Virgin Atlantic miles is to fly between the U.S. and Europe in Delta One business class for only 50,000 miles. Unfortunately, Delta is very, very stingy about releasing business class (Delta One) award space on these routes. After hunting around a bit, I found one flight where I could demonstrate the pricing differences between programs. The Virgin Atlantic Reward Seat Checker shows that there are 4 upper class (Delta One) seats available on March 27th from Amsterdam to Detroit:
For this flight, Delta wants a mere 375,000 miles (or 318,750 miles for cardholders) plus 215 Euros:
Air France Flying Blue is much more reasonable. They want 79,500 miles plus $226.25 USD:
Virgin Atlantic wins the day again. You can book the same flight with only 50,000 Virgin Atlantic miles plus 215 Euros:
It pays to compare
It’s not always the case that Delta’s partners offer significantly better award pricing than Delta itself. Sometimes Delta offers the best option. Still, there are times when booking via partner miles is so much better than with Delta that it pays to compare. We can now use Virgin Atlantic’s Reward Flight Finder to see when a nonstop Delta flight is available to book with partner miles. Once found, go to VirginAtlantic.com and to airfrance.us to see what the other programs charge.
Have you found other great deals by booking Delta flights with partner miles? Please comment below.
It was a glorious couple of days; and I’m not surprised that they shut this functionality down. However, it is disappointing nevertheless. Also, I don’t know how this really hurt either Virgin or Delta given that it generated such positive news amongst the miles and points community during a period when there’s so much uncertainty about the impact of the SkyTeam integration.
It looks like they killed the Delta search by changing the URL.
Well …. it was fun for like 2 days.
It worked last night but not anymore. It seems like this trick is blocked.
Changing to non-UK airports does not work for me now, although it did 2 days ago. I see “Hmm, Something’s not working”. I did confirm there was award space using the regular Virgin search.
[…] FM notes that there’s an easy way to see Delta award space for partners by using Virgin Atlantic’s calendar view and modifying the origin and destination airport codes in the URL. I’d copy this URL into your notes and modify as needed for a quick search:https://travelplus.virginatlantic.com/reward-flight-finder/results/month?origin=SLC&destination=PHX&airline=DL&month=06&year=2023Just change the origin, destination, month, and year as needed, then paste into a browser, but note that it only works for non-stop routes. […]
[…] Frequent Miler found where you can actually do the search for city pairs that aren’t listed in order to search for routes that only Delta operates to reveal difficult award space to find. This is done by manipulating the URL: […]
I’m confused, the whole idea is to change the airports in the URL as opposed to changing them in the airport boxes on the webpage? Why is it better?
The webpage only lets you pick flights from the UK.
Probably a rookie “elite” question, but if I book a KLM award ticket on Delta metal, do I get any of my Delta Medallion benefits on the flight, I.E. upgrade, lounge access, etc?
Delta has a particular flight I’m looking at at double the number of points of what I can get it from KLM or Air France. Just wondering what I’m giving up by doing that.
Yes you just need to attach your Delta number to the reservation
that is awesome. Let’s hope it doesn’t get shut down!
Cool…but doesn’t seem to find correct results yet. For example when using DTW to MSY on April 8th. It shows “none available” for every day of the month. When I search using the normal booking tab on the website there are plenty of award spaces available. I am sure it is a work in progress.
Are you sure you picked “Delta Air Lines” and not Virgin Atlantic? I just did your search and it showed me 9+ seats in economy on April 8. Here’s the URL: https://travelplus.virginatlantic.com/reward-flight-finder/results/month?origin=DTW&destination=MSY&airline=DL&month=04&year=2023
AHHHHH!!!!!!!………I missed that step…..it works! Thanks
On a downer note though…..it confirms what I have been dealing with for the past year. Delta does not open up much (if any) 1st class awards to partners for Domestic flights. I used to use Virgin a lot for 1st class awards flying from DTW to the west coast…:)
Any tips on finding this space???? LOL
Sadly, the best use of this tool is to demonstrate what you already know – the American carriers aren’t interested in “giving away” award seats. JFK-CDG on Delta – 0 seats in business for the next year. Use Seat Spy to see United doing the same thing.
You guys are the best! What a crazy good hack. I would have never thought of this.
Wonderful. Thanks so much.
I tried a couple of times and always got:
Hmm, something’s not workingLooks like we’re having trouble finding that info right now. If it happens again, try a bit later when we should be back on course.
That might be because you’re searching for Feb 2023 in the tool and that day is gone. Switch your month to March and see how it goes.
Yep I just came to write the same thing
Just found the reason: Firefox works but Chrome doesn’t.
Doesn’t work on Edge (my work browser)
Thank you! This is awesome!
If virgin didn’t have such insane fees or delta released some business seats to partners virgin miles would be a lot more appealing. I just cashed all of mine in for that awesome cruise deal and feel like it was a great and much less frustrating choice.
You guys and gal absolutely rock. Every few days you discover something that no one else figured out. Your podcasts are so fun to listen to, your youtube videos are nonstop great info, you really know your stuff and explain things well – not an easy thing to do, and you come across as nice guys and gal. Thank you Greg/Nick/Stephen/Tim/Caroline. Signed, Someone who’s been at this game since the early 2000s and knows a thing or three about points/miles/cc/etc. I’m so digging that you’re going Q Suites soon, couldn’t have happened to a nicer group.
That is a niiice one. Thanks, Greg.
You’re the best. I love it.