Today was a big day for frequent flyers, at least if you’re a SkyTeam traveller. Air France, Delta, KLM and Virgin Atlantic formalised their transatlantic mega “joint venture”, announcement which brings 341 daily transatlantic flights with connections to 352 destinations across the pond, made up of 238 US cities, 16 UK cities and 98 European ports of call.
Aside from the places and options, the big news here is in the loyalty aspect, where Virgin Atlantic travellers will soon find lots more perks on a far wider network.
Previously, the reciprocal bennies were only between Delta and Virgin Atlantic, and between SkyTeam member airlines, which Virgin Atlantic still is not, though this makes them pretty close.
Currently, you only earn Virgin Atlantic miles on KLM or Air France flights when they are offered as codeshares with Virgin Atlantic flight numbers. From February 13th onward, it’s expected that you’ll be able to earn miles with any of the airlines, regardless which one you fly on, or which of the three loyalty programs you choose – Air France and KLM share one in Flying Blue .
In addition, perks like lounge access, priority security and other perks for elite flyers will be offered between all four airlines, which means although Virgin Atlantic isn’t in SkyTeam, a top Virgin Atlantic Gold flyer would likely have SkyPriority style access with Air France, Delta and KLM, as opposed to just Delta.
There will likely be benefits for Virgin Atlantic Silver too. All other “red” members will just benefit from more choice and chances to earn miles.
When it comes to the “burn” side of miles, as opposed to the “earn”, one of the most brilliant ways to use Flying Club miles has always been on Delta flights, and now there will be increased opportunity to burn elsewhere, with KLM and Air France. That may likely mean great intra European options for your Virgin miles, in addition to more transatlantic and pacific options.
Basically, it’s nice to have two more airlines where the opportunity to search for flights and use miles should be much stronger than it was before. Conversely, all FlyingBlue (Air France and KLM) flyers should soon be able to book Virgin Atlantic flights with their own miles, which is a nice opportunity to experience the Airbus A350, which I’d rate as the best passenger experience between New York and London right now.