Virgin Group, which also is a shareholder in Virgin Australia Atlantic, Virgin Australia, Virgin Galactic, Virgin Trains and other Virgin subsidiaries, is launching a new loyalty program that will ultimately augment Flying Club and include earning and spending opportunities across all the company’s different properties, the company said in an email Tuesday.
The new program might have an impact on credit card rewards redemption availability, though it doesn’t appear any changes are eminent at this time. Flying Club maintains transfer partnerships with all three major travel rewards programs, Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Virgin did not release any details about the nature of a combined program and told frequent flyers to continue accumulating Flying Club miles as usual. It appears that the joint program will continue to operate using Flying Club miles.
The letter also promised that Virgin Atlantic Flying Club’s relationship with Delta Air Lines will remain unchanged.
Right now, the two airlines offer more or less reciprocal benefits, although Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members can earn more elite tier qualifying points on high-fare VS tickets than high-fare VA tickets. Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic offer similar mileage earning rates on each other, and share many of the same partners, including ANA All Nippon Airways, Delta Air Lines, Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines.
The biggest difference between the two frequent flyer programs is in elite status tiers. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club groups elite frequent flyers in two status tiers — Silver and Gold — whereas Virgin Australia Velocity frequent flyers climb three tiers — Silver, Gold and Platinum.
If current credit card partnerships hold up, a joint program could make it much easier to redeem American Express, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou points on Virgin Australia flights. Virgin Australia presently releases limited availability to its partners, Delta and Virgin Atlantic, particularly on long-haul U.S. flights. When business class seats are released, they generally don’t appear until within two weeks of departure.
This article has been updated. Virgin Group’s Loyalty Program will not supplant Virgin Atlantic Flying club, according to preliminary plans.