Virgin Atlantic A330Neo

Virgin Atlantic doesn’t need much introduction in most of the world.

The bold, red airline with flare tends to make quite an impression wherever it lands. But despite best efforts, it still doesn’t land “everywhere” yet, and that’s where today’s news that Virgin Atlantic is joining SkyTeam comes in hot.

With Virgin Atlantic joining SkyTeam, a whole new world of route possibilities, ease for customers and value from the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club will begin to emerge, so it’s a fairly big day.

Here’s 5 key takeaways from the alliance move — and how they might impact your travels, once all the benefits kick in from January, 2023.

More Destinations With Seamless Transfers

By joining SkyTeam, Virgin Atlantic will be able to expand the regions and countries it serves via its new SkyTeam airline partners. In time, it’ll also make buying tickets to these places, and flying with connections far more seamless.

Once an airline is in an alliance, bags tend to transfer more easily, tickets that could only be booked over the phone can eventually be booked online and added options in key hubs become available. All that good stuff, and connection help too!

From increased connectivity with Mexico via Aeromexico, to gorgeous Vietnam with Vietnam Airlines, Korea with Korean Air and plenty more, there will be so many more route possibilities. This, of course, comes in addition to the pre-existing partnerships with KLM, Delta and Air France.

New Benefits For Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

For people who achieve “elite status” with Virgin Atlantic, good times are ahead. It was exciting to have elite benefits, like lounge access, extend to Air France, KLM and Delta flying, but now that’ll expand further. The same perks will apply across the alliance.

Elite status with Virgin Flying Club can soon unlock access to Korean Air, China Airlines, Aerolineas Argentinas, Kenya Airways, ITA and other lounges. Perks like extra baggage allowances and security fast tracks, known within SkyTeam as “Sky Priority” will also be extended.

Status or no status, all Flying Club members benefit.

In addition to increased comfort and connectivity along the way, it’s almost assured that Virgin Atlantic will receive access to more seats using points, on more SkyTeam airline partners.

Update: according to SkyTeam leaders at this morning’s press conference, much of the behind the scenes work for recognition has already been done, and full benefits should be a day one thing, once Virgin officially joins in January, 2023.

More Competition For Sustainability

Virgin Atlantic has been a powerful force in sustainability, but SkyTeam stole the show this year, with an incredibly clever Sustainability Challenge.

The alliance challenged all member airlines to compete for the most sustainable flight, but unlike other one off, “look at me” efforts from other airlines, the goal was not only to win, but to learn.

All participants shared their strategies and learnings not only within the alliance, but to the world at large. That’s pretty cool. Whether you care about sustainability, or not, less waste is good for everyone. Virgin will undoubtedly participate next year.

Strengthening Airline Alliance Functions

Airline alliances are supposed to make travel better for customers. Alliances have invested heavily over the years in things like teams to help with tight connections in major hubs, and ‘around the world’ airfare options.

With Virgin Atlantic joining SkyTeam, it’s the first “major” signing for the alliance in recent times, and it should spur competition for passenger satisfaction from the Star Alliance and Oneworld alliances as well.

Each has announced unique ambitions, from alliance wide loyalty currencies to alliance wide upgrades and technology platforms. Let’s see what SkyTeam brings to the mix.

More Virgin Points Earning On More Airlines

There’s an opportunity cost to every airline ticket you purchase. Purchasing with an airline you’ve never flown before may offer savings, or a fresh start, but it won’t be adding to your existing mileage balances, or perk goals via elite status.

With Virgin Atlantic joining SkyTeam, you’ll be able to earn Virgin Points from the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club while flying on at least 18 alliance airlines, and counting. More is more. It’ll be easier to work towards points goals, while expanding your travel more globally flying both on Virgin Atlantic and partners.

More points, more upgrades, fewer problems. That’s the dream and SkyTeam should help plug most of the coverage gaps in the Virgin Atlantic network. That’s good for all.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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    1. Your pick : Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, Kristin Colvile, CEO of SkyTeam, or any of the other 100 people who were at the Gherkin this morning for the press conference…

    1. Meh, doesn’t really do very much except for virgin fliers. I already get the same benefits as a Delta Platnium and Skyteam Elite Plus.

      Real news would be having VS check in Skyteam passengers for their flights in terminal 3 at LHR

  1. I think we will soon see erosion of the flying club programme with horribly high redemptions etc. Time to burn Virgin miles ASAP I feel. Esp those ANA flight sweet spots

    1. Absolutely. 47,500 miles for a TATL VS flight will disappear. Sky Pesos seven figure redemptions here we come. I will not be transferring any Amex points into VS until there is some clarification on this point.

  2. Speculation here but I don’t see this being good for award redemption redemptions. I don’t know how ANA, a Star Alliance member will fit in now VS is in an official alliance. Another consequence will be the number of miles needed for redemptions.

    I’ve yet to see a merger or joining of an alliance that yielded lower/less miles/points needed for award flights. They invariably go up. Less competition means less reasons to be competitive.

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