Virgin Atlantic has officially joined SkyTeam today, becoming the alliance’s first UK member carrier.
Virgin first announced plans to join SkyTeam in September last year, and was officially inaugurated at a signing ceremony in London this morning (March 2).
As part of the move SkyTeam has sent out a release detailing what benefits can be expected as a result of Virgin’s inauguration, and one paragraph in particular stands out.
When the news was first announced last year, SkyTeam’s CEO Kristin Colvile was asked whether Virgin Atlantic’s Heathrow Clubhouse would be made available to elite SkyTeam members. Her reply at the time was:
“We’re working closely with Virgin Atlantic regarding access to the Clubhouses. 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.”
Business Traveller had already reported that eligible members of Aeromexico’s Club Premier loyalty programme can now access Virgin’s Heathrow Clubhouse, but it seems that there will be limited access for other elite customers. SkyTeam confirms that:
“SkyTeam Elite Plus members travelling on Virgin Atlantic, Delta or Aeromexico will have access to Virgin Atlantic’s renowned Clubhouse at London Heathrow, whilst other SkyTeam Elite Plus members can take advantage of their airline-designated lounge at Terminal 3. Elite Plus members will also enjoy a network of 750 worldwide airport lounges to choose from.”
Note also that “As per existing agreements, Delta Gold Medallion members will not have access to Virgin Atlantic’s Heathrow Clubhouse, unless travelling in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class or Delta One”.
In better news, from today Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold members receive SkyPriority airport services where available, and Flying Club members can now earn and redeem points on SkyTeam member airlines.
Note that China Eastern accrual and redemption will be available in July 2023, while ITA Airways redemption will be available “later in 2023”.
Commenting on the inauguration Shai Weiss, CEO Virgin Atlantic, 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.”
Meanwhile Patrick Roux, SkyTeam CEO and Managing Director, 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 UK 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.”