Virgin Atlantic will officially join the SkyTeam airlines alliance in 2023.
Wait a darn minute, pal, you might think, isn’t Virgin Atlantic already part of SkyTeam?
That’s an understandable (but incorrect) assumption if you’re a regular Delta Air Lines traveler. After all, Delta is already a Virgin Atlantic partner. It owns 49% of the famous British air carrier. Some Delta elite status holders enjoy special benefits on Virgin Atlantic (more on that in a minute). Likewise, certain Virgin Atlantic elites can access Delta Sky Clubs, Sky Priority lanes, and other benefits.
But adding Virgin Atlantic to SkyTeam makes the airline’s Flying Club miles/points more valuable across a bunch of other carriers. For instance, you’ll be able to redeem them with SkyTeam members such as AeroMexico, Korean Air, Saudia, and other airlines. (And vice versa).
So, this is pretty great news for the other SkyTeam carriers outside of Delta, Air France, KLM, and Virgin Atlantic — who already sit at a cool kids lunch table of their own.
What Does This Mean for Delta Flyers?
Those of us with Delta SkyMiles Diamond or Platinum Medallion status probably won’t notice much difference when flying Virgin Atlantic. We already receive complimentary admission to Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses and arrivals lounge when traveling internationally. We enjoy the expedited security at Heathrow’s Upper Class Wing.
But the real winners here could be Gold Medallions. Their SkyTeam Elite Plus status might soon score them the same perks as Diamonds and Platinums when traveling with Virgin Atlantic.
That means they, too, might have Virgin Atlantic lounge access. But not just Delta Gold Medallions — but certain elite status holders from the rest of Virgin Atlantic’s new SkyTeam brethren.
Lovely. Will we see Delta Sky Club-like waiting for lines snaking out of Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses?
Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said this:
“Our membership will allow us to enhance established relationships with our valued partners at Delta and Air France-KLM, as well as opening up opportunities to collaborate with new airlines. It will enable a seamless customer experience, with an expanded network and maximised loyalty benefits.” [Bold mine.]
Notice the ugly word I emphasized? “Enhance”? Many of us know that “enhance” is corporate speak (especially in the airline and hotel industries) for “devalue” or “make it less attractive.”
What does SkyTeam say?
“We’re working closely with Virgin Atlantic regarding access to the Upper Class Wing [and] … to the Clubhouse,” SkyTeam wrote in a FAQ. [Bold mine.] “Our ambition is that all Elite Plus members will have access to every one of the Clubhouses. We know that they are world famous and will bring significant new benefits to the relevant SkyTeam members.”
Virgin Atlantic joins the SkyTeam airline alliance in 2023. Delta Air Lines flyers probably won’t notice much difference in their Virgin Atlantic experiences (although, I somehow feel like I’m going to eat those words). But other SkyTeam airline customers will surely love this move, as will Virgin Atlantic’s customer base. But many more people are about to get SkyTeam Elite Plus benefits — which is a double-edged sword.
What do you think about this announcement?
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