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Virgin Atlantic announced at a press conference in London on Tuesday, September 27, 2022, that the airline would join the SkyTeam airline alliance.
The move is not particularly surprising considering Virgin's relationship with SkyTeam members. The airline has a deep relationship with the big three members of the SkyTeam alliance: Delta, Air France, and KLM. Not to mention that Delta owns a 49% stake in Virgin.
What We Know So Far
Here is what we know so far from the press conference, and the accompanying statement on the Virgin Atlantic newsroom website:
- Virgin Atlantic will be admitted as a member in early 2023 — no exact date has been given.
- Flying Club Members will be able to earn and burn points with all alliance members — no rates have been announced.
In terms of elite status levels:
- Virgin Atlantic Silver will equate to SkyTeam Elite status.
- Virgin Atlantic Gold will get SkyTeam Elite Plus perks.
Elite members will receive the usual raft of benefits associated with status. These include priority check-in, baggage handling, lounge access, and more.
Commenting on the upcoming relationship, SkyTeam CEO Kristin Colvile stated:
“As a member of SkyTeam, Virgin Atlantic will benefit from increased opportunities to expand its global network through partnerships and synergies: customers will have more ways to earn and burn miles while enjoying the service for which Virgin Atlantic is renowned. Virgin Atlantic shares SkyTeam’s values, caring for our customers, our employees, and the world in which they live, and we are excited to have them as part of the SkyTeam family.”
While the CEO of Virgin Atlantic, Shai Weiss, added:
“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.”
What About The Virgin Sweet Spots
While it is great news for Virgin to join SkyTeam, some Flying Club members will be concerned about what will happen to some of the best Flying Club redemption sweet spots. Currently, you can use your Virgin points for many excellent awards, including:
- ANA first class from Japan to Europe or Central/Eastern US for 120,000 Virgin points round-trip plus taxes and fees.
- Air New Zealand business class awards from New Zealand to either North or South America for 125,000 Virgin points round-trip plus taxes and fees.
Unfortunately, both Air New Zealand and ANA are members of Star Alliance. This puts them in direct competition with many of Virgin Atlantic’s new alliance partners. Will these great deals remain, or is the time up for these excellent redemption options? Only time will tell.
It is great news to see Virgin joining SkyTeam since it gives all members of the program new opportunities to earn and burn Virgin points. Not to mention leveraging their status for benefits like accessing the excellent Virgin Clubhouse lounges.
The downside may be seeing the end of some of Virgin’s best redemption sweet spots. However, that ultimately might be the price we have to pay for potentially new excellent redemption opportunities open up with the alliance.
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