Virgin Atlantic To Join SkyTeam Airline Alliance In 2023
SkyTeam will soon become more attractive to frequent flyers on both sides of the Atlantic as Virgin Atlantic moves from a close relationship with the airline alliance to full membership in early 2023.
The British-based airline’s membership will enhance SkyTeam’s transatlantic network and in particular its presence at London Heathrow airport.
Airline alliances are formal agreements between airlines that give customers several benefits. These include easier connections across member airlines, access to more airport lounges and the ability to earn and redeem frequent flyer miles through each others rewards programs.
Makes SkyTeam more attractive
The decision by Virgin Atlantic to join SkyTeam is no surprise. The airline has long worked closely with SkyTeam members Delta and Air France-KLM on codeshares and a co-location at London Heathrow terminal 3 together with other SkyTeam members.
However, with British Airways’ membership of OneWorld and a strong transatlantic presence within Star Alliance, SkyTeam as an alliance has been weak in the transatlantic market with just Delta offering direct U.S. to U.K. flights. The formal addition of Virgin Atlantic’s transatlantic routes could persuade many frequent flyers in the U.K. to switch their loyalty.
Earlier this year, Virgin launched new routes to Austin and Tampa. In addition to its growing number of U.S. destinations, Virgin also serves a handful of global destinations including the Caribbean, Delhi and Johannesburg.
SkyTeam’s current members are Aeromexico, Aerolineas Argentinas, Air Europa, Air France, China Airlines, China Eastern, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Garuda Indonesia, ITA Airways, Kenya Airways, KLM, Korean Air, Middle Eastern Airlines, Saudia, Tarom, Vietnam Airlines and Xiamen Air.
“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.” said Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic CEO.
Benefits for Virgin flyers
Frequent Virgin Atlantic flyers will see their Flying Club status recognised across the alliance from day one. Virgin Atlantic Silver Card holders will become SkyTeam Elite Members, while Gold Card members will become Elite Plus.
The latter group will be able to access a global network of 750 SkyTeam and partner lounges.
A SkyTeam statement said that customers will be able to earn miles in early 2023 with miles redemption available via call centers. Online redemption of miles will be “phased in throughout 2023.”
A precise date for the move isn’t yet available, but it said to be “early” in 2023.