Virgin Atlantic A330Neo

Virgin Atlantic doesn’t need much introduction in most of the world.

The bold, red airline with flare tends to make quite an impression wherever it lands. But despite best efforts, it still doesn’t land “everywhere” yet, and that’s where the news news that Virgin Atlantic has officially joined SkyTeam comes in hot.

With Virgin Atlantic joining SkyTeam, a whole new world of route possibilities, ease for customers and value from the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has emerged. Here are 5 key takeaways from the alliance move — and how they might impact your travel now that it’s all live.

a close up of an airplane wing

More Destinations With Seamless Transfers

By joining SkyTeam, Virgin Atlantic has expanded the regions and countries it serves via its new SkyTeam member airline partners. It also makes buying tickets to these places, and flying with connections far more seamless.

Once an airline is in an alliance, bags tend to transfer more easily, tickets that could only be booked over the phone can eventually be booked online and added options in key hubs become available. All that good stuff, and connection help too!

From increased connectivity with Mexico via Aeromexico, to gorgeous Vietnam with Vietnam Airlines, Korea with Korean Air, Taipei with China Airlines and plenty more, there are so many more route possibilities. This, of course, comes in addition to the pre-existing partnerships with KLM, Delta and Air France.

New Benefits For Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

For people who achieve “elite status” with Virgin Atlantic, good times are here. It was exciting to have elite benefits like lounge access extended to Air France, KLM and Delta flying, but now that’ll expand further. The same perks apply across the alliance.

Elite status with Virgin Flying Club now unlocks access to Korean Air, China Airlines, Aerolineas Argentinas, Kenya Airways, ITA and other airline lounges — 720 in fact — all thanks to your elite status, even when flying economy.

Perks like extra baggage allowances and security fast tracks, known within SkyTeam as “Sky Priority” or “SkyTeam Elite Plus” will also be extended.

Status or no status, all Flying Club members benefit.

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In addition to increased comfort and connectivity along the way, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members now receive access to more airline seats using points, on so many more SkyTeam airline partners.

More Earn And Burn Options On More Airlines

You can find all the new “earn and burn” tables for how many Virgin Points you’ll earn, or can redeem for any given partner here. You’ll also see the tier points you’ll earn for your progress to Virgin Atlantic Silver and Gold status.

Immediately, you’ll see amazing new choices like Korean, Vietnam Airlines, and Garuda Indonesia and China Airlines, which operate stellar routes to Taipei with excellent connectivity throughout Asia. Direct London to Vietnam is now possible.

MEA and Saudia offer new connectivity throughout the Middle East and itineraries connecting with these airlines are already available using Virgin Points or cash.

More Competition For Sustainability

Virgin Atlantic has been a powerful force in sustainability, but SkyTeam stole the show last year with an incredibly clever Sustainability Challenge. That challenge will run again this year.

The alliance challenged all member airlines to compete for the most sustainable flight, but unlike other one off, “look at me” efforts from other airlines, the goal was not only to win, but to learn.

All participants shared their strategies and learnings not only within the alliance, but to the world at large. That’s pretty cool. Whether you care about sustainability, or not, less waste is good for everyone. Virgin will undoubtedly participate next year.

a bed in a plane

Strengthening Airline Alliance Functions

Airline alliances are supposed to make travel better for customers. Alliances have invested heavily over the years in things like teams to help with tight connections in major hubs, and ‘around the world’ airfare options.

With Virgin Atlantic officially in SkyTeam, it’s the first “major” signing for the alliance in recent times, and it should spur competition for passenger satisfaction from the Star Alliance and Oneworld alliances as well.

Each has announced unique ambitions, from alliance wide loyalty currencies to alliance wide upgrades and technology platforms. Let’s see what SkyTeam brings to the mix.

More Virgin Points Earning On More Airlines

There’s an opportunity cost to every airline ticket you purchase. Purchasing with an airline you’ve never flown before may offer savings, or a fresh start, but it won’t be adding to your existing mileage balances, or perk goals via elite status.

With Virgin Atlantic joining SkyTeam, you’ll be able to earn Virgin Points from the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club while flying on at least 18 alliance airlines, and counting.

More is more. It’ll be easier to work towards points goals, while expanding your travel more globally flying both on Virgin Atlantic and partners.

More points, more upgrades, fewer problems. That’s the dream and SkyTeam should help plug most of the coverage gaps in the Virgin Atlantic network. That’s good for all.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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    1. Your pick : Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, Kristin Colvile, CEO of SkyTeam, or any of the other 100 people who were at the Gherkin this morning for the press conference…

    1. Meh, doesn’t really do very much except for virgin fliers. I already get the same benefits as a Delta Platnium and Skyteam Elite Plus.

      Real news would be having VS check in Skyteam passengers for their flights in terminal 3 at LHR

  1. I think we will soon see erosion of the flying club programme with horribly high redemptions etc. Time to burn Virgin miles ASAP I feel. Esp those ANA flight sweet spots

    1. Absolutely. 47,500 miles for a TATL VS flight will disappear. Sky Pesos seven figure redemptions here we come. I will not be transferring any Amex points into VS until there is some clarification on this point.

  2. Speculation here but I don’t see this being good for award redemption redemptions. I don’t know how ANA, a Star Alliance member will fit in now VS is in an official alliance. Another consequence will be the number of miles needed for redemptions.

    I’ve yet to see a merger or joining of an alliance that yielded lower/less miles/points needed for award flights. They invariably go up. Less competition means less reasons to be competitive.

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