In a move that has been widely expected for… well… years, Virgin Atlantic is to join one of the major airline alliances – SkyTeam.
Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 arriving at London Heathrow – Image, Economy Class and Beyond.
Virgin Atlantic will join SkyTeam in early 2023. An official induction date has yet to be announced.
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.
With the airline joining SkyTeam, Virgin Atlantic customers will benefit from a consistent, seamless customer experience, across 1,000+ global destinations. They’ll also have more opportunities to earn and redeem points across member airlines and access to a network of 750+ airport lounges, spanning six continents.
For those of you with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club membership, there will be a significant uplift for its elite members.
Virgin Atlantic Silver Card holders will be recognised as SkyTeam Elite Members, whilst the airline’s Gold Card members will become SkyTeam Elite Plus. This recognition provides 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.
Building on the Join Venture
Virgin Atlantic’s entry into the alliance builds on the transatlantic joint venture partnership with Delta Air Lines and Air France-KLM (all existing SkyTeam members). These airlines currently live at Heathrow Termina 3 (with Virgin Atlantic).
Existing SkyTeam members Aeromexico and China Eastern currently operate out of Heathrow Terminal 4.
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.”
Kristin Colvile, SkyTeam CEO, said,
“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.”
Shai Weiss, CEO of 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.”
That’s taken long enough
SkyTeam has published an FAQ at https://www.skyteam.com/en/about/virgin-atlantic in regards to some specifics (including lounge access).
But it has been a long time coming for Virgin Atlantic to move away from the free spirit and independence to realise you need other airlines to make an industry work (and this is even more important as Virgin Atlantic is a long-haul airline, with limited to zero European coverage).
With long-haul partnerships being a thing for Virgin Atlantic, as well as codeshares, it has always been a matter of when the airline joined SkyTeam, not if.
We will have to wait for the next stage of integration and the timetable of things to come – but for SkyTeam passengers, it is going to be a very useful addition to the network.
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