Is Virgin Australia part of an airline alliance?

By David Flynn, September 2 2016
Is Virgin Australia part of an airline alliance?

Does Virgin Australia belong to an airline alliance such as Star Alliance, Oneworld or SkyTeam?

Virgin Australia isn't a member of any of the 'Big Three' airline alliance families of Star Alliance, Oneworld or SkyTeam.

Many Virgin flyers wish this was otherwise, and there's often speculation that Virgin Australia could join either Star Alliance or SkyTeam, although signing up to the Oneworld family – which includes Qantas – is not on the cards!

Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti repeatedly pours water on such talk, saying that it's not a priority and that he prefers the "flexibility" of Virgin's current series of bespoke partnerships.

This currently includes stakeholders Singapore Airlines and Etihad Airways, as well as Air New Zealand, US carrier Delta, Alitalia, South African Airways and Branson-branded cousins Virgin America and Virgin Atlantic.

The scope of those partnerships can vary from one airline to the next, however, with less consistency than formal alliances when it comes to enjoying Velocity Frequent Flyer status perks such as lounge access, priority checkin and a higher checked luggage allowance.

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

09 May 2011

Total posts 23

Given that VA is owned by a hotch-potch of other airlines, I cant seem them being swayed into joining either Skyteam or Star Alliance.

Unfortunate situation IMHO, and I wish that SQ had bought a larger chunk and pushed it into Star. 

20 Apr 2015

Total posts 21

That's a leadership failure at SQ. Too slow to move, too conservative.

Now they've missed out on having a foothold on the Australian market that they have always craved. Damn.

Most unfortuante!

Having been VA Platinum for quite some time, with a host of points that can't be used for the widely known (best way to use your points) aka points upgrades; I've lost loyalty to VA for anything international.

Last week, at the end of my 5th international business trip in 6 months, I've gone from QF Bronze to QF Plat. Now look forward to requesting points upgrades to more options than LAX or Tasman, and look forward to enjoying QF's first lounge.

Shame VA. :-( p.s you still have our domestic.

Turkish Airlines - Miles & Smiles

08 Jun 2014

Total posts 264

VA needs to joing *A so I can earn SC's and Points on more, wider range of Airlines, please!


Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 Aug 2012

Total posts 33

Would have been great years ago for VA to join *A, but the massive growth from the ME3 have triggered defensive "virtual" alliances to offer customers equivalent coverage/schedules.   Ultimately this tact devalues the need for alliances, and the alliances themselves have inconsistencies across their partners (esp. since some hybrid-LCC have been welcomed into them) ... eroding the benefits.

The resullt: We have AusBT to advise on alliance benefit arbitrage opportunities !

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

16 May 2011

Total posts 113

I do alot of overseas travel and international partners was a big factor for me. I ended up choosing QF, for the international network alone. QF has its JV/code-share partners in addition to oneworld family partners. Compared to VA, where you have considerably less partners to choose from when earning and burning miles! I know that VA is working hard to build its own "virtual network", but it is considerably lagging behind QF, QF has a much larger international network on its own metal and a much larger virtual network via its partners. I've managed to climb to Platinum at QF thanks to its larger reach, I don't think I'll be able to achieve the same at VA. Though I must say QF does have a few partners that may need to up their standards abit! 

In additiont to QF, I also have OZ for Star Alliance, it would be wonderful if VA was to join Star Alliance! It would be hard to stay loyal to whom then!

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 14

What about becoming an official partner of the 'Etihad Airways Partner' alliance? This alliance seems to becoming more and more official. My airberlin card sports a bigger Etihad logo in the top left than the little OneWorld logo in the bottom right. Same with Alitalia.

04 Sep 2016

Total posts 1

Miles I wondered that as well, am VA Plat. for 5 years and SQ Solitaire, booked on the 787 from BNE to AUH and onto DUB in Business I was upgraded to first class on check in despite having never flown Etihad they treated me like a returning Platinum, was surprised in the videos and announcements on their official partners, VA was hardly mentioned

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards Platinum

29 Aug 2014

Total posts 35

The sad part is that NO ONE cares about VA FF in Europe and the USA. I travelled to Moscow by SQ. I had to explain to get in to the SQ lounge with my VA Platinum card. No joke, I will always have to explain (or promote) VA to get the lounge entry almost everytime I travel some parts of Europe and USA. Major destinations seem they know about VA's FF allowances but honestly speaking, it's quite tiring as it happens pretty much all the time I travel internationally. 

3 words: Non Institutionalised Alliance.

Borghetti wants his cake and eats it.

Not being part of a formal institutionalised alliance ensures control of your members by making them fly on your metal or your codes only. The opportunity for arbitrage by members is very limited.

Qantas has tried to implement controls to limit arbitrage by playing around with SC and QFF point accrual rates, but in a captive market Borghetti's strategy works best. 

Disaffected QF members may just switch to a different OW programmes if and when their consumption of domestic flights is low - any effects to them is marginal.

The tipping point for Virgin would be if a large enough number of members decided to switch their business to QF to benefit from the seamlesness of OW. I think at this stage, Virgin fans are those who 1) primarily fly domestic and 2) simply dislike QF - that's causing them to tolerate Virgin and its hotch potch alliance network. 

I don't know how big this segment of the market is and how sustainable it is to rely on them.


Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

11 Nov 2014

Total posts 32

I will admit that I am one of those people who used to fly Virgin a lot domestically and also have a rather large dislike for QANTAS. I simply don't like their product or service (Personal choice).

However, I moved to Auckland in March and have flown a fair few times with Air New Zealand because the Virgin Australia options just aren't there. I have approached Air NZ on a number of occasions to see if they could give me a status match and they won't do it because of the agreement they have with VA. I simply find myself in a position where I will fly using my VA frequent flyer card until I have secured next years Gold Membership and then try and build up the points with Air NZ.

I find it very hard to get into Singapore Airlines lounges also. I have been turned away on numerous occasions when flying with Air NZ. I am not sure what the policy is but because VA isn't on their list of partner airlines in places like the USA, they think it doesn't exist.

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