Virgin Atlantic is taking its biggest stride onto the global stage yet, officially joining the ranks of SkyTeam Alliance – the first UK airline to do so – while also adding its marquee brand and marketing muscle to the long-running group.
Along with better connectivity across SkyTeam’s other 18 member airlines, the move gives Virgin’s Flying Club members access to alliance-wide benefits such as SkyTeam lounges, Sky Priority airport fast-track security lanes and other premium perks.
Flying Club Silver lines up against the ranks of SkyTeam Elite, with Flying Club Gold now 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.
Patrick Roux, SkyTeam CEO and Managing Director, says the alliance is delighted to welcome Virgin to the team, elevating its customer offering with “more routes to exciting destinations and access to aspirational airport lounges – not to mention the airline’s world-famous flair.”
“The U.K. is a key market for SkyTeam and with Virgin Atlantic on board, customers can look forward to more opportunities to earn and redeem miles as they fly, enjoying the iconic travel experience that makes our newest member a globally loved airline,” Roux adds.
Interline agreements with all SkyTeam members are already in place, allowing Virgin travellers to book flights to 1,000 global destinations in over 170 countries on a single ticket straight away.
Codeshare agreements are also now up and running with Aeromexico and Middle East Airlines, complementing existing codeshares with Air France-KLM and Delta, with options for more to follow later this year.
Virgin is also set to launch several new routes “as a result of the decision to join SkyTeam and to connect with airlines in the alliance,” according to Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss.
Further out will be the ability for passengers to buy flights on any SkyTeam airline through any member airline’s website, for which SkyTeam is developing a new alliance-wide technology platform of which CEO Kristin Colvile says "you will have a similar seamless experience as Oneworld.”
Virgin Atlantic is co-located at London Heathrow’s Terminal 3, alongside Delta and SkyTeam members Aeromexico and China Eastern, meaning smoother airside transits and better connection times.