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
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)