In early 2023, SkyTeam will welcome Virgin Atlantic as its newest member airline. This marks the first new addition to the alliance since 2014.
While Virgin Atlantic has previously partnered with other SkyTeam airlines, such as Delta and Air France/KLM, this announcement brings the UK-based airline fully into the alliance.
Virgin Atlantic Will Become SkyTeam’s Newest Member
As of early 2023, Virgin Atlantic will become SkyTeam’s sole UK-based carrier. This is a boon for the alliance, as it will increase the transatlantic options for passengers based out of Europe and North America.
Virgin Atlantic has flights from hubs in Manchester and London Heathrow to destinations in North America, Africa, the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, and Asia. The majority of its destinations are in the United States, which makes joining SkyTeam a natural fit.
Virgin Atlantic also has a decent footprint in the Caribbean.
Joining SkyTeam will benefit travellers from the United Kingdom and the United States, as there will be more options for flights between the two areas. Furthermore, we’ll see an integration of reciprocal benefits for passengers with elite status in any of the member airlines.
As soon as Virgin Atlantic joins SkyTeam, which is expected in early 2023, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Silver members will be recognized with SkyTeam Elite status. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold members will be recognized with SkyTeam Elite Plus status.
SkyTeam Elite status is similar to Star Alliance status, although the benefits aren’t quite as good. For example, all SkyTeam Elite status holders will enjoy priority services, such as check-in, boarding, and seating, as well as an increased baggage allowance.
SkyTeam Elite Plus status holders will further enjoy priority baggage, guaranteed reservations on sold-out flights, and lounge access.
As per usual with airline alliances, passengers will be able to earn miles on any SkyTeam member flight. For example, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members will be able to earn Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points on flights from Delta, Air France, KLM, etc.
Furthermore, there will be a reciprocal award availability benefit with this partnership. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members will be able to redeem points with all other SkyTeam members, and members from other SkyTeam loyalty programs will be able to redeem points with Virgin Atlantic.
It remains to be seen what will happen to some of the amazing sweet spots that can be booked with non-SkyTeam airlines on Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. For example, one of the best ways to book ANA First Class is with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Since ANA is a Star Alliance airline, it’s uncertain if this sweet spot will last.
How Is Flying with Virgin Atlantic?
The airline has a very strong ground experience at its flagship Clubhouse lounge in London Heathrow. Eligible passengers will enjoy sweeping airport views, fine dining, and a unique lounge experience.
Its business class product, Upper Class, offers a lie-flat seat, welcome Champagne, and a decidedly purple experience.
One unique feature of Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is the onboard lounge, known as The Loft. Here, passengers can relax with a drink and enjoy some light snacks during the flight.
Whenever an airline joins an alliance, thereby allowing passengers to redeem points on a greater range of products, it’s a good situation for all. Since there are 12 routes from the United States to the United Kingdom, it’ll be great to see greater award availability on Virgin Atlantic Upper Class.
Hopefully, this new partnership will open the door for greater award availability and connectivity between North America and Europe.
Virgin Atlantic is set to join SkyTeam in early 2023. It will become the sole UK-based airline in the alliance.
It’s always great to see new airlines joining alliances, as travellers stand to benefit from greater availability. Furthermore, passengers can also stand to have easier connections between the United States and the UK, with direct flights to London Heathrow and Manchester with Virgin Atlantic.
There has been a lot of movement recently with airlines joining different alliances, so let’s hope that this trend continues.