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.