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You’ll soon be able to redeem Virgin Flying Club miles on Air France KLM

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It looks like your ability to earn and spend Virgin Flying Club miles on Air France and KLM flights – or, indeed, your ability to earn and spend Flying Blue miles on Virgin Atlantic flights – is closer than ever to going live.

The US Government has approved the restructuring of Virgin Atlantic’s shareholding and the creation of a new transatlantic joint venture with Delta Air Lines, Air France and KLM.  It is subject to a 14 day consultation which is now underway.

Virgin Atlantic joint venture

A little backstory …

Back in 2013, US airline Delta bought a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic and secured a joint venture across the Atlantic.  This allows both airlines to better compete with British Airways despite a limited slot portfolio at Heathrow and the lack of a short-haul UK feeder network.

Delta also owns a 9% stake in Air France KLM, and both groups are part of the SkyTeam alliance.  It is no surprise that all three airline groups – Delta, Virgin Atlantic and Air France KLM – have been seeking to collaborate more closely.

Two years ago, Virgin Group signed a deal to sell Air France KLM a 31% stake in Virgin Atlantic, diluting Sir Richard Branson’s share to 20%.  In 2018, the three companies announced that they were filing for a transatlantic joint venture. In March 2019, Virgin Atlantic and Air France KLM announced new codeshare routes, the first stage of deepening integration between the airlines as they waited for regulatory approval.

The EU antitrust regulator gave its blessing to the expanded joint venture in February, whilst the US Department of Transportation has taken a little longer.

The US regulator has now given approval for the joint venture pending a fourteen day consultation period which should just be a formality.  Jet Blue does not appear to have succeeded in getting any slots at Heathrow released despite running a high profile campaign which it claimed would increase competition.

What is an airline joint venture?

Joint ventures are regulatory-approved partnerships that allow multiple airlines (in this case Delta, Virgin Atlantic and Air France KLM) to act as one, co-ordinating on pricing and scheduling.

Crucially, joint ventures also pool revenue. Regardless of which particular airline’s aircraft you find yourself on, the revenue generated from you as a passenger is distributed between the co-operating airlines.

Virgin Delta joint venture gets US DOT approval

British Airways has, for many years, operated a transatlantic joint venture with Iberia, American Airlines and Finnair.  Aer Lingus has also applied to join this JV.  BA also has a joint venture with JAL on flights to Japan and with Qatar Airways on flights to Doha.

No matter which airline you actually fly with across the pond, British Airways receives a portion of the revenue.  This is one of the reasons that British Airways maintains such a tight grip on transatlantic flying.

Whilst Delta already had joint venture agreements with Virgin Atlantic and Air France KLM individually, this expanded agreement closes the triangle and allows Virgin Atlantic and Air France KLM to co-ordinate too.

How will the joint venture benefit you as a frequent flyer?

It is obviously debatable whether allowing Delta, Virgin and Air France KLM to jointly set fares and share revenue on transatlantic routes is beneficial for the customer or not.  To the extent that the BA / AA JV already exists, it arguably creates a 2nd grouping which is big enough to challenge.  That said, prices would probably be lower if both joint ventures were shut down.

Ignoring any impact on ticket prices, the joint venture is hugely beneficial for your frequent flyer account.  You will soon be able to earn Virgin Flying Club miles on ALL Delta, Air France and KLM flights, whilst at present your Air France KLM earning is restricted to codeshares. The reverse is true for Flying Blue and Delta SkyMiles members.

You will also have the ability to redeem Virgin Flying Club miles on Air France and KLM flights. We asked Virgin how quickly they were planning to get this live but we did not receive any comment.

This opens up Virgin Flying Club redemption opportunities and makes it a far more interesting loyalty scheme.  You will be able to fly to many, many more places around the world thanks to Air France and KLM’s route networks, and it will make a radical difference to your redemption options flying to Asia, the Middle East and Africa.  Short haul redemptions in Europe will also be possible, albeit with a plane change in Paris or Amsterdam.

We will keep you updated with the Virgin Flying Club news as it is announced.  We have no idea what sort of mileage or taxes we can expect to pay for redemption flights with Air France KLM, which is the only potential sting in the tail.  It will be interesting to see how these are calculated and whether they choose to undercut the very high taxes and fees that British Airways imposes ……

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (December 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, the Reward+ card has a bonus of 15,000 Virgin Points):

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

A generous earning rate for a free card at 0.75 points per £1 Read our full review

You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into Virgin Points.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Points

(Want to earn more Virgin Points?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

Comments (138)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • James says:

    My MR points are not transferring to Virgin. Any known issues?
    I have matching name, address and email.

    • Harry T says:

      It doesn’t work for me either. I’ve talked to Amex and VFC and nothing they’ve done has helped.

  • Richard M says:

    Will Virgin be joining the broader Skyteam alliance, and will it be possible to earn Virgin Miles on the likes of Alitalia, Czech Airlines and similar?

  • Rich says:

    If I currently put my FC # into a flight booked on AF or KLM; what happens? From my understanding, if its not codeshare (i.e. cannot book on the VS website) I will get nothing.
    Both KLM & AF allow the FC # when you book. I have a Business class trip to Tokyo coming up and want to maximize (as opposed to ANA which has less FC rewards).

    ANY insight would be greatly appreciated

    • Rob says:

      Nothing happens.

      • Rich says:

        TKS; very misleading that they allow you to enter your FC #, give they are partners.
        If you don’t read the fine print you could get not benefit from a business class flight to Asia

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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