Virgin Atlantic joins SkyTeam

The Branson-backed airline aims to power up the SkyTeam alliance.

By David Flynn, September 28 2022
Virgin Atlantic joins SkyTeam

Virgin Atlantic is ending long years of “will they, won’t they” by signing onto the SkyTeam alliance, alongside partner and 49% stakeholder Delta Air Lines, with its membership kicking off in early 2023.

Along with better connectivity across SkyTeam’s 18 member airlines, the move will see Virgin’s Flying Club members enjoy alliance-wide benefits such as access to SkyTeam lounges, Sky Priority airport fast-track security lanes and other premium perks.

Flying Club Silver will line up against the ranks of SkyTeam Elite, with Flying Club Gold equivalent to SkyTeam Elite Plus – for which lounge access is a headline feature, and of course that will be a two-way street, with the top tiers of current SkyTeam airlines gaining entry to Virgin Clubhouses.

However, during the Q&A at a London press conference where the tie-up was announced, Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss indicated the flagship Clubhouse at Heathrow Terminal 3 would be exempt from that arrangement, with Elite Plus members likely to be redirected to another T3 lounge.

SkyTeam CEO Kristin Colvile said of Virgin’s admittance “Day 1 will be early January 2023, although the exact date is yet to be decided.”

Virgin Atlantic will be SkyTeam’s first and only UK member airline, and is already a founding member of a Joint Venture partnership with SkyTeam members Delta Air Lines and Air France-KLM.

“2022 marks the year Virgin Atlantic gets back to its best for our customers and people and joining SkyTeam is an important milestone,” said Weiss, adding “we have plans for new routes as a result of the decision to join SkyTeam and to connect with airlines in the alliance.”

Further out will be the ability for passengers to buy flights on any SkyTeam airline through any member airline’s website, such as purchasing Virgin Atlantic tickets via Delta, for which SkyTeam is developing a new alliance-wide technology platform of which CEO Colvile says "you will have a similar seamless experience as Oneworld.”

Get SkyTeam Elite Plus status with this SkyTeam status match for Qantas, Virgin Australia and many other airlines.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1175

Not really a surprise.  Post-COVID, VS is more concentrated on trans-Atlantic than it ever was and very tightly linked with DL even to the point that some DL unions are complaining that DL is effectively outsourcing some of its flying to VS based on lower costs.  DL controls 49% of VS and is a foundation member of Skyteam along with AF/KL.  Sooner or later DL was going to formalise the situation and bring VS into the alliance.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jan 2015

Total posts 75

Would be great to see Virgin Atlantic back in OZ sometime. 

Yes, but that's not going to happen. Virgin couldn't make it work before the pandemic, back when things were rosiest, they won't be able to do it now.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 319

Virgin had two goes at the Kangaroo route. First on their own A340 aircraft via HKG, and they weren't able to make it work then, and more recently a JV with (formerly close) namesake Virgin Australia also via HKG. 
The later attempt (the short-lived VS/VA JV) was also terminated prior to Covid closing everything down.

VS wasn't able to make it work on both occasions.  Also with VA only existing through a licensing agreement between Branson and VA's Private Equity owners, it's unlikely VS will return to Australia on their own aircraft.

Great to see this finally happen, I remember Virgin Atlantic talking about joining an alliance several times back around 2013-2015. A big win for SkyTeam members across Asia.

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