After operating as a boutique airline for a significant period, Virgin Atlantic announced in September 2022 that it would be joining an airline alliance. The airline had set its sights on SkyTeam, which already had most of Virgin Atlantic’s partners as members.
Finally, on March 2, 2023, Virgin Atlantic and SkyTeam confirmed that the airline had officially become a member of the alliance. This move makes Virgin Atlantic the only UK-based airline in the SkyTeam alliance, which has been dominated by oneworld, with British Airways and smaller airlines like Air Lingus in Ireland.
It comes as no surprise that Virgin Atlantic has become a member of the SkyTeam alliance, given that Delta, who owns 49% of Virgin Atlantic, is already a member of the alliance, along with joint venture partners Air France-KLM.
SkyTeam’s other members include airlines such as Vietnam Airlines, Saudia, Aeromexico, and Korean Air, among others. This partnership is a significant win for SkyTeam, as it marks the first new member to join the alliance since 2014.
Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said:
SkyTeam shares a customer-first ethos that mirrors our own and our entry into the alliance today marks an important milestone in achieving our vision to become the most-loved travel company.
We want to reward those who choose to fly with Virgin Atlantic and our Flying Club members deserve the very best loyalty proposition. Our SkyTeam membership offers this through a global network of maximised reward opportunities, alongside enhanced services on the ground and in the skies.
SkyTeam CEO Patrick Roux Colvile said:
We are delighted to welcome Virgin Atlantic into SkyTeam, taking an already close relationship to new heights and elevating our 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.
What are the benefits for travelers?
Virgin Atlantic’s membership in the SkyTeam alliance brings reciprocal benefits for Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members when flying with other member airlines of the alliance.
Specifically, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold members will be granted SkyTeam Elite Plus status, while Silver members will receive SkyTeam Elite status. Similarly, elite members of other SkyTeam airlines will also receive recognition when flying with Virgin Atlantic, including access to lounges.
Our thoughts on this deal
This partnership is a significant milestone for both Virgin Atlantic and SkyTeam. As the only UK-based airline in the alliance, Virgin Atlantic will bring a unique offering to SkyTeam’s extensive network of partners.
The UK has been primarily dominated by oneworld, with British Airways and other smaller airlines like Air Lingus in Ireland. However, with Virgin Atlantic now on board, SkyTeam has positioned itself as a competitive alternative for travelers seeking a broader range of choices and destinations.