Today there was a large press conference for Virgin Atlantic headed by Shai Weiss, the airline’s CEO.
I’m currently in Hawaii, so sadly missed out on the rather swanky breakfast at London’s Gherkin. But it’s definitely good news!
Virgin Atlantic announced that they will definitely be joining Skyteam. The airline could not give an exact date but said it was aiming for January 2023.
Skyteam consists of many useful airlines such as Air France, Delta and KLM as well as some slightly more random ones. Virgin already had an agreement allowing their Flying Club members to use their points on KLM, Air France and Delta so this is the next logical step. It will be interesting to see exactly how it intergrates with Skyteam as the rates for using Virgin miles on Air France/KLM is currently pretty high on long haul compared to redeeming on Virgin, for example.
Virgin Atlantic will become SkyTeam’s first and only UK member airline, enhancing the alliance’s transatlantic network and services to and from Heathrow and Manchester Airport.
Virgin Atlantic customers will have more opportunities to earn and redeem points across member airlines and access to a network of 750+ airport lounges, spanning six continents.
The airline’s Flying Club members will enjoy significant benefits from the day of joining, with a global expansion of its loyalty offering. Virgin Atlantic Silver Card holders will be recognised as SkyTeam Elite Members, whilst the airline’s Gold Card members will become Elite Plus. This recognition provides a raft of benefits, including priority check in, baggage handling and boarding. Flying Club members will be able to take advantage of the benefits as soon as Virgin Atlantic officially enrols in SkyTeam, which is expected in early 2023.
Virgin Atlantic’s entry into the alliance builds upon the success of its transatlantic joint venture partnership with Delta Air Lines and Air France-KLM, each already long-established SkyTeam members. The four partners are co-located at London Heathrow’s Terminal Three, alongside existing SkyTeam members Aeromexico and China Eastern, providing customers with smooth airside transits and the most convenient connections times possible.
We don’t know whether this will affect the partners they already have, such as ANA and Singapore, that are not part of Skyteam. Currently, you can already book Air France, KLM and Delta redemptions online with Virgin but their other partners require a phonecall. It will be interesting to see whether you will be able to book redemptions on all Skyteam members online when they join.
Shai Weiss, CEO Virgin Atlantic, commented,
“At Virgin Atlantic we strive to create thoughtful experiences that feel different for our customers and SkyTeam shares that customer first ethos. 2022 marks the year Virgin Atlantic gets back to its best for our customers and people and joining SkyTeam is an important milestone. Our membership will allow us to enhance established relationships with our valued partners at Delta and Air France-KLM, as well as opening up opportunities to collaborate with new airlines. It will enable a seamless customer experience, with an expanded network and maximised loyalty benefits.”
Walter Cho, SkyTeam Chairman said,
“Virgin Atlantic is synonymous with innovation and excellent service, an iconic British airline with a global outlook that puts customers at the heart of its operations – like SkyTeam and its members – and we are delighted to welcome them into our alliance
Obviously, it will mean you may want to look at other Skyteam airlines to see which may give the best loyalty options for your Virgin travel instead of the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. I will take an in-depth look at Skyteam in the coming week.
Here is the full list of Skyteam members:
Delta Air Lines
Middle East Airlines
What do you think about the move? Would it encourage you to favour Virgin over other airlines? Let us know in the comments below.