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Virgin Atlantic Sets the Date to Join SkyTeam

The transatlantic carrier will join the airline alliance at the beginning of March, becoming its first and only member from the U.K.

by Lauren Smith

February 9, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic will join the SkyTeam alliance on March 2, bringing new routes and connections for travelers and integrated perks for its Flying Club elites.

Since Virgin Atlantic formed a joint venture with Delta Air Lines and Air France-KLM in 2019, there’s been speculation that the carrier would join its three partners and enlist in the SkyTeam alliance.

Photo: Courtesy of Delta Air Lines

The British carrier confirmed just that in September but has been coy about the actual date of its enrollment until now. This week, chief executive Shai Weiss confirmed Virgin’s arrival as March 2, making Virgin Atlantic the SkyTeam’s only U.K. member.

It also marks the first time a British airline has joined an airline alliance since the now-defunct British Midland International enrolled in Star Alliance in 2000. Flag carrier British Airways remains a partner in the oneworld alliance.

Weiss said Virgin Atlantic would launch several “new routes as a result of the decision to join SkyTeam and to connect with airlines in the alliance” but didn’t confirm the specifics.

Additionally, Elite members of Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club loyalty program will start to see perks when they fly with the 18 members of the alliance, provided they attach their Flying Club number to the reservation.

Flying Club Silver members are expected to receive SkyTeam Elite treatment, which includes:

  • priority check-in
  • priority boarding
  • extra baggage allowance
  • preferred seats
  • mileage upgrades
  • priority airport standby
  • priority reservation waitlist

Flub Club Gold members will likely be afforded all the perks of SkyTeam Elite Plus status, including:

  • All SkyTeam elite benefits
  • Sky Priority
  • Priority security and immigration
  • SkyTeam lounge access with international flights
  • Priority baggage handling
  • Guaranteed reservations

The relationship is reciprocal, and SkyTeam elites should receive the same benefits on Virgin Atlantic flights. However, travelers have reported that some new entrants—like Italian carrier ITA Airways, which joined in October 2021—can be slow to align their systems and introduce SkyTeam perks. So privileged SkyTeam embers may have to advocate for their perks on Virgin Atlantic for a while.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, London Heathrow / Photo: Courtesy of Virgin Atlantic

Elites at SkyTeam will also get access to Virgin Clubhouse airport lounges. However, remarks Weiss has made to the media suggest that the airline’s flagship Clubhouse location at Heathrow Terminal 3 may be excluded from the arrangement.

In the future, Virgin Atlantic members should also be able to redeem their Flying Club points with SkyTeam member airlines, although this feature might not be available immediately.

The SkyTeam is also working on an integrated booking system that will allow passengers to book flights through any of its 18 member airlines’ websites, including Virgin Atlantic’s. But no launch date for the system – similar to one already offered by oneworld – has been announced.