In September 2022, we heard about Virgin Atlantic joining an alliance after being a boutique airline for a long time. They were headed to SkyTeam, an airline which already has most of the Virgin Atlantic partners as members. On March 2, 2023, it finally happened.
Virgin Atlantic Joins the SkyTeam alliance.
Virgin Atlantic and SkyTeam confirmed that the airline had joined the airline alliance as of March 2, 2023. Virgin Atlantic becomes SkyTeam’s only airline based in the United Kingdom, primarily a bastion of oneworld (with British Airways and, to an extent, smaller neighbouring airline Air Lingus in Ireland).
The membership of Virgin Atlantic in the SkyTeam alliance is no surprise. Delta, the 49% owner of Virgin Atlantic, is already a member of SkyTeam, and so is the joint venture partners Air France-KLM. Other member airlines of SkyTeam include airlines such as Vietnam Airlines, Saudia, Aeromexico, Korean Air and so on. For SkyTeam, this represents a win, as the airline alliance has only had the first new member since 2014, Virgin Atlantic.
Here’s what Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss had to say on occasion,
SkyTeam shares a customer-first ethos that mirrors our own and our entry into the alliance today marks an important milestone in achieving our vision to become the most-loved travel company.
We want to reward those who choose to fly with Virgin Atlantic and our Flying Club members deserve the very best loyalty proposition. Our SkyTeam membership offers this through a global network of maximised reward opportunities, alongside enhanced services on the ground and in the skies.
SkyTeam CEO Patrick Roux Colvile had to say this,
We are delighted to welcome Virgin Atlantic into SkyTeam, taking an already close relationship to new heights and elevating our customer offering with more routes to exciting destinations and access to aspirational airport lounges – not to mention the airline’s world-famous flair.
The U.K. is a key market for SkyTeam and with Virgin Atlantic on board, customers can look forward to more opportunities to earn and redeem miles as they fly, enjoying the iconic travel experience that makes our newest member a globally loved airline.
What does it mean for you and me?
With Virgin Atlantic joining SkyTeam, it also means that Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members will get reciprocal recognition when flying with other member airlines of the alliance. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold members will receive SkyTeam Elite Plus status, and Silver members will get SkyTeam Elite status. Other SkyTeam airline elite members will receive reciprocal recognition when flying with Virgin Atlantic, including lounge access.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members are hereon going to be able to earn and redeem points for travel on all SkyTeam member airlines. Similarly, members of other SkyTeam loyalty programs can earn and redeem points for travel on Virgin Atlantic.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club offers Silver status at 400 tier points and Gold Status at 1000 tier points. You can earn tier points purely on the back of partner flights and do not need to make minimum points on Virgin Atlantic flights. Here is how you can earn tier points on different airline partners of Virgin Atlantic.
Accessing the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse
Virgin Atlantic has one of the best lounge products there is in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse. So there was much wonder going around about the access policies. These are now clarified.
- Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse outside the United Kingdom will be offered to SkyTeam international business class passengers and SkyTeam Elite Plus members on international itineraries, even when not flying Virgin Atlantic.
- SkyTeam Elite Plus members travelling on Virgin Atlantic, Aeromexico or Delta can access Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in London. Delta Gold Medallion members won’t be able to use the Clubhouse at LHR, though, unless travelling in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class or Delta One.
- Other SkyTeam Elite Plus members can take advantage of their airline-designated lounge at Terminal 3
Virgin Atlantic’s award chart for SkyTeam member airlines
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has introduced a new SkyTeam award chart. Award costs are distance-based for SkyTeam redemptions. Remember, if you need to connect, each flight will be priced separately based on the distance of the flight. Pricing is not based on the total distance flown. Here are the one-way costs:
The pricing looks very similar to what Avios uses for British Airways Executive Club members. Additionally, you cannot use your Virgin Points for First Class bookings on other airlines, even if they offer it.
Given the quick timeline of joining, about six months from the announcement, considerable work is needed to book partner awards online. All partner awards not previously bookable online will need to be ticketed by phone. You need to call Virgin Atlantic Flying Club to get the award tickets ticketed for the following airlines:
- Aerolíneas Argentinas
- Air Europa
- China Airlines
- Czech Airlines
- Garuda Indonesia
- Kenya Airways
- Korean Air
- Middle East Airlines
- Vietnam Airlines
- Xiamen Air
The following airlines can be booked online:
- China Airlines
- Korean Air
- Middle East Airlines
- Xiamen Air
The following airlines were already available for online booking:
- Air France
ITA Airways and China Eastern redemptions will not be available temporarily, with China Eastern being introduced by July 2023 and ITA Airways redemptions added later in 2023. The redemption rates for Delta will remain unchanged and not guided by the chart above. (Many ifs and buts, as you can see in this case).
Virgin Atlantic has joined the SkyTeam alliance as of March 2, 2023. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has rolled out a new award chart for travel on SkyTeam airlines in light of this development. Some partners are not available to book award tickets using Virgin points, and some can be booked on the phone. Additionally, you can earn SkyTeam status just by crediting flights to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and not other member carriers.
What do you think of Virgin Atlantic joining SkyTeam?
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