Sweet Virgin Atlantic Joining SkyTeam Alliance
Well this news may not come as a total surprise to some, Virgin Atlantic joining SkyTeam alliance was officially revealed in an announcement yesterday to a press conference. They are expecting to join as soon as early 2023!
What is SkyTeam?
SkyTeam is one of 3 major worldwide airline alliances initially formed in year 2000. There are currently 18 airlines in the group with major airlines such as AirFrance, KLM, Delta, AeroMexico, Korean Air, China Airlines, Saudia and more. Together they have a network coverage of over 1000 destination in over 170 countries.
Virgin Atlantic Joining SkyTeam Alliance Is A Strategic Move
Virgin Atlantic is a relatively niche airline in a very competitive air space. So not being in an alliance limits their network reach. They have already been working in partnership of fellow SkyTeam member Delta (which own’s a significant stake in Virgin) as well as AirFrance-KLM. This move means this relationship can expand beyond the current remits and eventually utilising the benefits provided by all the other airlines in the network. You can read more about this here
What Could This Mean For Frequent Fliers?
If you currently have status with Virgin or any of the existing members, your status will have reciprocal recognition across the whole SkyTeam network. Think priority boarding, lounge access and possibly easier access to each others award seats etc
Are There Any Downsides?
Quite possibly. Virgin Atlantic as some of the best business class lounges in the world, which are by far superior quality than that off any other alliance carriers. This potentially means more Elite flyers will have access to these lounges, which can make them crowded spaces.
On a second thought, Virgin also has partnerships with other airlines that are not in the SkyTeam alliance but in fact from rival Star Alliance carriers such as All Nippon Airways of Japan and Air New Zealand. It’s currently possible to book award seats with these airlines, some of which can be very lucrative. Could these perhaps be changed in the future, which will not make some happy.
Virgin Atlantic Also Launching A330 Neo Soon With Brand New Upper Class & Retreat!
In other news, back in July Virgin Atlantic finally revealed the plans they have for their new A330NEO aircraft orders. Unfortunately I did not have time to post this at the time.
The Upper Class Suites on those aircraft with sport a slightly modified and up-to date business class suites. Some of the new features on this Upper Class variant will be fully closing doors (as opposed to the semi door on A350s) wireless phone charging, do not disturb mode, modified storage unit for better convenience etc
And here are some of the marketing pictures..
The new A330Neos are expected to be deployed in October starting with Boston. And 3 more aircraft will be delivered before 2022 ends for which new routes are yet to be announced!
Virgin Atlantic Now Possibly Has A Business PLUS Product?
The treat did not end there for the Virgin A330Neo. Virgin has revealed something extra and innovative that perhaps no one was expecting… a super kind of business class suite called the Retreat Suites.
There are two centre seats at the very first row, which will sport a significantly upgraded footage with huge IFE Screen and buddy dining seats so 4 people can dine and socialise together.
While it will not be sold as a separate product initially, it is thought these will be available for upgrading into for Upper Class passengers for an additional upgrade rate.
Virgin has not revealed much more on how this product might be differentiated in terms of service but it will sure be exciting to find out!
I cannot wait to book one of those A330Neo flights now!