Remember the days back in the early 2000’s when you were able to redeem SkyMiles for Virgin Atlantic flights?
The opportunity may some day return if today’s rumors of Virgin Atlantic joining SkyTeam are to be believed. Richard Branson, who has until now kept Virgin out of the alliance system (and called them anti-competitive), preferring code-sharing agreements with other airlines instead, had this to say this morning to Bloomberg Television in Mumbai:
Virgin Atlantic has always enjoyed its independence, but since pretty well every competitor that we have has an alliance I think we have finally decided that to survive we need to have an alliance.
Bloomberg’s article goes on to quote a London based Cantor Fitzgerald analyst:
“I’d say it would be 60-40 in favor of SkyTeam” as the potential Virgin Atlantic partner. The U.K. carrier’s routes to the Caribbean, U.S. and Asia may “tip them in favor of the SkyTeam alliance more than Star,” which already has a route network serving those markets.
Branson went on to say that an announcement would likely come within the next three months. In my humble opinion, though I would love to have another valuable redemption option for my SkyMiles, SkyTeam still seems far less likely than Star Alliance as Virgin has current partnerships with 9 Star Alliance members and is 49% owned by Singapore. Though as per the article, Star Alliance has not had any recent alliance talks with VS, which would seem strange if an announcement is expected in January.
Delta has made some positive improvements to their “best in class” program lately including the ability to search for Korean awards online and dropping fuel surcharges for award flights originating in Europe. They also continue to have amazingly great business availability on Korean (on non-blackout dates), China Southern (which can be used to fly the A380 from LAX to Guangzhou, connecting to SE Asia or Australia), and of course Virgin Australia (easy to get at least 2 seats most of the year). Adding Virgin Atlantic would be a huge enhancement and would certainly increase the value of my SkyMiles. Even if Delta’s own awards continued to be priced at insane levels, I’d still be pretty psyched with low level business redemptions on Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic, China Southern, and Korean. Of course, other SkyTeam alliance members would have the same award possibilities as well. Here’s hoping…