New Air France-KLM & Virgin Atlantic Partnership

Filed Under: Air France/KLM, Virgin Atlantic

In November 2019, Delta, Air France-KLM, and Virgin Atlantic, received final approval for their new mega transatlantic joint venture. Previously Delta had two separate transatlantic joint ventures — one with Virgin Atlantic, and one with Air France-KLM.

This new joint venture will lead to all four airlines coordinating, including aligning schedules and fares in some markets, and also offering reciprocal benefits to frequent flyers.

Now that all the approval has been received, one big question has revolved around when the partnership will actually launch. This in particular has implications between Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic, since the two airline groups didn’t previously cooperate.

It looks like we now have our answer.

Air France-KLM Flying Blue & Virgin Atlantic Flying Club partnership

It appears that this new partnership will officially be launching as of January 15, 2020. While no formal announcement has been made, a Flying Blue webpage has been updated to reflect that.

I suspect that not only will the airlines start codesharing and integrating fares as of that point, but presumably they’ll also add frequent flyer reciprocity.

This would include a partnership between Flying Blue, the frequent flyer program of Air France-KLM, and Flying Club, the frequent flyer program of Virgin Atlantic.

With this, members of both programs should be able to earn and redeem miles for travel across the joint venture.

Here’s what we know so far about this partnership:

Earning Flying Club miles on Air France-KLM

It will be possible to earn Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles on Air France-KLM, though frustratingly only when you’re booked on a codeshare flight. At least that’s what Virgin Atlantic’s website indicates.

So you’d need to book a flight on Air France or KLM “metal” that’s in fact marketed by Virgin Atlantic. That’s a frustrating restriction.

It will soon be possible to earn Flying Club miles on KLM

Here are the mileage earning rates on Air France:

And here are the mileage earning rates on KLM:

Earning Flying Blue miles on Virgin Atlantic

It will soon be possible to earn Air France-KLM Flying Blue miles on Virgin Atlantic, at the following rates:

  • Business Cabin (Upper Class):
    • J, C: 200%
    • D: 175%
    • I: 150%
    • Z: 100%
  • Premium Economy:
    • W, S: 125%
    • H: 100%
    • K: 75%
  • Economy Cabin:
    • V: 100%
    • Y, B: 100%
    • R, L: 75%
    • U, M, E: 50%
    • Q, X, N, O: 25%
    • T: 20%


It will soon be possible to earn Flying Blue miles on Virgin Atlantic

Interestingly as of now on their mileage page about it, Flying Blue doesn’t specify that only codeshare flights will be eligible for mileage earning, suggesting that even Virgin Atlantic operated and marketed flights would qualify.

It will be interesting to see if that is indeed accurate.

What about spending miles?

Reciprocal mileage redemptions should also become possible as of next week:

  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has award charts, but hasn’t yet published a chart for travel on Air France-KLM
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue doesn’t publish award charts, so we’ll just have to price out awards once that functionality is live to see what pricing is like

Frankly I’m not expecting any huge arbitrage opportunities, based on the fact that both carriers impose surcharges, and also given that both programs have reasonable redemption rates for flights on their own metal.


It will soon be possible to spend Flying Club miles on Air France

Bottom line

It appears like the expanded transatlantic joint venture between Air France-KLM, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic, will formally launch next week. As of that point it should be possible to earn and redeem miles across airlines.

I’ll post again once more detailed are revealed about all aspects of this partnership.

(Tip of the hat to The Flying Dutchboy)

Comments
  1. Please ask them about lounge access roules for both Flying Blue members in Virgins clubhouses and Flying Club members at AF/KLM:s lounges. Thank you

  2. Wonder if it’ll be possible (or make sense to) start crediting all my Delta flights to AF so i can earn status and redeem miles for a first class ticket

  3. Even as a Delta medallion it leaves a lot to be desired if you fly any of their partners, e.g. AF or KL or what have you. Sucks. And doesnt get any better with this.

  4. Here’s hoping the redemption values don’t suck. None of those programs except VS usually offer good value on redemptions.

  5. Crossing my fingers for access to Air France La Premiere via Virgin Atlantic!

    (Unlikely … but I can dream)

  6. So I can sign up for Flying Blue ( currently delta medallion) and eliminatE MQD requirement (based in US) while getting all the same benefits?

  7. Are there any insights on how many or how possible a VS flight to be code shared as a KL or AF flight code?

    This affects me as a skyteam member more

  8. @EL the joint venture is USA Canada and Mexico. This means all TransAtlantic Air France and KLM services between Europe and points there also carry a VS code Likewise VS direct flights from the UK to the US are also coded AF KL. I think they have a chart on their website VS is much smaller so remember this is only between the U.K. and USA if the flight is operated by Virgin I think it may also include some connections from Paris or Amsterdam to Europe which will be able to carry a VS code of booked in conjunction with a flight from North America

  9. @Ryan: The JV does not share revenue. The goal of flying is to make profit, so they went next level with a profit sharing JV. At the beginning of the JV they calculate cost, revenues and the amount of pax every airline adds to the table and agree on a ‘fixed’ distribution afterward. I guess the percentages are highly confidential.

  10. I have only one experience so far booking an economy award trip on Delta, and it wasn’t the most positive. I found my seats on Delta’s website, but tried for over a week to find them on either Flying Blue or Flying Club. No luck. I even tried changing the country locations on those websites (i.e. changing from US to UK version of website), I tried chatting with Virgin Atlantic agent, and could never find the award seats. I don’t understand the point of partnerships if you don’t show award availability to partners. I mean, I can understand holding premium cabin seats for your own program’s elites to book first, and releasing later to partners, but I don’t get it with economy.

  11. It seems like there’s no way as a Delta Diamond Medallion flyer that I can use any combination of miles or global upgrades to get into Air France’s La Premiere. Or does someone know how?

  12. I hope it’s true that Flying Blue miles will be earned on ANY Virgin operated flight, not just those with an AF or KL code (which are just the transatlantic routes). Would be very useful as a UK-based Flying Blue member if I can take advantage of Virgin’s other routes such as Shanghai that are not part of the DL/VS/AF/KL joint venture. I just hope that XP status points will still be awarded in addition to the miles in these circumstances where it’s a VS code (XP points are definitely awarded on Virgin-operated KL/AF codes).

  13. @Tim: Well, this partnership is a reaction on this transatlantic JV. So an extension to all Virgin flights for FLying Blue and all AF/KL flights for Flying Club would be nice, but for now a bit unrealistic. Maybe the cooperation is such a success they want to expand it with shared benefits on non-tl flights, it indeed would be very nice.

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