Delta axes domestic lounge access for Virgin Velocity Gold, Platinum

Velocity members no longer get preferential treatment on Delta, with lounge access moving on-par with Delta's own elite flyers.

By Chris Chamberlin, August 9 2021
Delta axes domestic lounge access for Virgin Velocity Gold, Platinum

Virgin Australia’s Velocity Gold and Platinum members will lose access to Delta Air Lines’ Sky Clubs from September 1 2021, unless they’re travelling on a long-distance international flight the same day.

Although international travel restrictions currently prevent most Australians from visiting the United States, where Delta is based, the move marks a further wind back of the partnership between Delta and Virgin Australia.

Under that tie-up, Velocity’s elite frequent flyers actually enjoyed better access to Delta lounges than Delta’s own frequent flyers.

Velocity members could stop by Delta’s Sky Clubs prior to any domestic or international Delta flight, whereas eligible Delta SkyMiles cardholders were only granted access when taking a same-day, long-distance international journey.

This now puts access for Velocity frequent flyers on-par with Delta’s own high-tiered members, and equal to SkyTeam Elite Plus frequent flyers from other carriers like China Airlines and Korean Air.

Delta Sky Club access for AMEX Platinum Charge Card and Centurion Card holders is unaffected, including those from Australia.

Delta, Virgin Australia Joint Venture remains paused

Back in September 2020, the two airlines put their Joint Venture (JV) partnership on ice following Virgin Australia’s decision to its halt flights to Los Angeles and to retire its Boeing 777 fleet.

Virgin “does remain a very long-term strategic partner for us”, Delta’s Clare Black – General Manager Australia, New Zealand and the Virgin Australia Joint Venture – told Executive Traveller at the time.

“That’s why we’re saying we’re pausing the relationship … because we both anticipate that Virgin Australia will fly to Los Angeles again: and when that happens, we look forward to restarting the Joint Venture.”

Since then, Velocity members have been excluded from complimentary Comfort+ upgrades on Delta, as were introduced under the JV.

Velocity Points also now can't be used for Delta flight upgrades.

Even after Virgin exited voluntary administration in 2020, the airline’s Velocity members remain unable to spend their Velocity Points on flight bookings with any partner airline, either – Delta included.

Tweaks to Velocity Points earned on Delta

Also from September 2021, there’ll be some minor changes to the number of Velocity Points given on Delta flights.

Travellers booking premium economy – that’s Premium Select, in Delta lingo – will earn 1.5 Velocity Points per mile flown, up from 1.25 Velocity Points per mile at present.

Those booking ‘discount economy’, however, see their earn rate halved from 0.5 to 0.25 Velocity Points per mile flown. ‘Discount Economy’ ranks below even ‘basic economy’, and applies only to fare class E.

Earning rates remain the same across all other fares, including in business class, regular economy (Main Cabin) and basic economy.

There’s no change to the number of Velocity status credits earned on any Delta flight or fare, compared to current levels.

Previous Velocity cuts on partner airlines

This isn’t the first time Virgin Australia’s Velocity members have seen benefits reduced on partner airlines since the start of the pandemic.

In 2020, Virgin ended its reciprocal lounge access agreements with Alitalia, Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines – locking out Velocity Gold and Platinum members from those lounges.

Velocity also pared back its lounge offering for Virgin Atlantic passengers departing Hong Kong, with Velocity Gold and Platinum no longer gaining access to the Plaza Premium Lounge when London-bound abord Virgin Australia’s sister airline.

As Velocity Frequent Flyer would normally be charged a fee every time its Gold and Platinum cardholders visit a partner airline’s lounge, these changes ultimately reduce the expenses incurred by Velocity.

Qantas’ rival partnership with American Airlines remains unchanged for Stateside flyers.

Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge members continue to qualify for gratis American Airlines lounge access prior to any domestic or international AA or Oneworld flight.

Paid-up Qantas Club members also retain AA Admirals Club access when travelling onward with American Airlines the same day.

Also read: Virgin Australia expands Platinum upgrades to economy Elevate fares

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

21 Jul 2020

Total posts 7

Time to think about Star Alliance perhaps. 

14 Oct 2016

Total posts 101

Yeah, the Clayton's alliance still not providing a consistent level of service and perks. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 303

Star (or any Global Alliance) would be at the very bottom of Bain's mind right now.  It's all about maximising "return on investment" for Bain.   This is on top of the current international travel ban in Australia atm.

Had Bain thought dissolving the DL partnership (and interline agreement with the SkyTeam carriers) and applying for UA and Star Alliance was worth the CapEx spend for a a return on investment, they would've done so by now.  So any change from DL to UA is unlikely for the foreseeable future.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 662

I'd say Delta knows something to make that decision, seem strange coming at this point in time.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 229

I’d suggest it’s more to do with VA paying an entry fee each time their elites use the SkyClub. Penny pinching. Hopefully reinstated post-rona. 

21 Apr 2019

Total posts 12

Perhaps Delta will commence flying out of MEL ,SYD&BNE post Covid lockdowns. On a code share basis it would save VA purchasing long range aircraft.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 303

Delta was content with letting VA do most of the work pre-COVID, only doing SYD-LAX even during the period VA wasn't servicing MEL-LAX.   

I can't see DL expanding outside of SYD for the foreseeable future even post-COVID, with or without VA.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1268

Makes sense. Virgin brings very little value to Delta.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 318

I would be surprised to see Virgin retain any of the old airline alliances come 2022 or whenever international travel returns, maybe SQ, but how much value does Delta and Etihad really have and how much value does Virgin bring to them?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 303

EY may not be as valuable as they were ages ago, but DL was one of VA's first international partners signed up by Virgin Blue CEO Brett Godfrey (replacing the old UA codeshare as Virgin Blue) when they first started Long Haul with the 777s.  They also had Virgin America as the other American partner before they were taken over by Alaska.

UA weren't happy about being replaced by DL and VX at the time, but UA let a old UA/DJ interline agreement run for a few years before that expired.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 303

Although VA Mk 2 in its current form combined with the Australian international travel ban doesn't bring much (if any) value to any of its international partners signed under VA mk 2, even SQ which also used QF interlines.

With the JVs of the primary 3 (SQ, EY, DL) expiring, and AC being the only 'confirmed' partner as announced by CEO Hrdlicka, it would not surprise me if Bain are looking at a 'hard reset' on VA's international partners as long as the travel ban remains in place.


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Delta axes domestic lounge access for Virgin Velocity Gold, Platinum