You’ll (very) soon be able to redeem Virgin miles on Air France KLM as the US Government approves JV

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It looks like your ability to earn and spend Virgin Flying Club miles on Air France and KLM – or, indeed, your ability to earn and spend Flying Blue miles on Virgin Atlantic – 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.

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 ……

Virgin Atlantic joint venture

How to earn Virgin Atlantic miles from UK credit cards

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

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Flying Club miles.  That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles?  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.)

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Comments

  1. Rhys – every time you make this mistake will remind you of it.

    “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.”

    Yes taxes my vary (esp from US to Amsterdam), but the real thing you either conflated or missed off entirely is…

    Surcharges, Surcharges, Surcharges!!!!

    • Frenzie says:

      Get over it. You know exactly what he means.

      • luckyjim says:

        +1

      • Rooster says:

        +1

      • It’s about about accurate. .

      • Frenzie – Lol, appreciate the attempt at your request/directive

        You’re neglecting to consider new or inexperienced readers, this website is all about learning and understanding the nuances of each programme, over simplification detracts from that goal.

        When we get accurate information it will not be necessary to offer such basic corrections.

    • Lady London says:

      Good point Triprep. But it seems as it’s less words for any journo or blogger to type, we are going to get it called ‘taxes’ when for BA, Lufty, Virgin and others most of the money we have to pay them that they call ‘taxes’ is not taxes at all, for a while yet.

      • Gromit says:

        Agreed, but calling it taxes just benefits the airlines in helping obfuscate their randomly added surcharges. If using ‘airline surcharges’ is too much effort, calling it ‘fees’ rather than taxes would be one letter less for journo or bloggers to type….

    • That’s how Air France/KLM names calls them:
      Taxes and surcharges
      * Please note: airport taxes and security charges are not covered by your Miles and must be paid separately. The same applies for carrier-imposed surcharges. For flights within Europe operated by Air France, KLM and Joon, no additional carrier-imposed surcharges apply. The exact cost will be shown in the trip overview after you have selected your flight.

      And Miles & More: “+ taxes, fees and airline surcharges”.

    • Doug M says:

      If you want quick and easy go with Surcharges, they’re far more of the cost than tax ever is.

    • Charlieface says:

      I’m much more bothered about the ‘no idea’ part. We have a very good idea.
      There are only realistically two options with any likelihood:
      Full taxes and surcharges (look them up on ITA)
      Full taxes and capped surcharges, the same as Flying Blue does.
      Any other option is simply not credible. AF/KL or highly unlikely to be giving up on YQ, which I believe gets paid direct to them under most settlement arrangements.

  2. Ronster says:

    Good afternoon everyone.

    Slightly O/T

    Would anyone have an idea if we are due a Tesco Clubcard points to Virgin Miles bonus transfer?

    Seems like an ice age since the last one.

    Thanks

    Ronster

    • There’s currently an auto-conversion bonus running

      • Ronster says:

        Hi Rhys

        Yes I have seen it.

        However I was thinking along the lines of something more substantial. Like a 20% bonus?

        Ronster

  3. I believe that people in the regions should really focus on Flying Blue. You can travel with the Air France and KLM network to almost the whole world. Modern cabins, modern planes, great airports, great food… and miles redemptions include connections.

    On a separate note, the Flying Blue elite program is well worth it as you can take free luggage even on Economy Basic tickets even on “Flying Blue Silver”, which is the first elite level.

    • Clearly you havn’t flown very much.

    • the_real_a says:

      Yes but the charges are outrageous. I generally find Lo Co`s half the price of the fees without having to use miles.

  4. I’m assuming the Virgin Atlantic flight vouchers from the credit card will still only be redeemable on Virgin Atlantic metal itself?

  5. Thomas Howard says:

    Are flights on DL, AF and KL likely to be tier point earning with Flying Club?

    • Thomas Howard says:

      ignore that, I found the answer (yes) on the FC website.

      • David D says:

        I’m intrigued, will that be the same number of tier points per fare class across the whole network, or will there be a differential between short and long haul?

        • Shoestring says:

          more complicated than that, have a look through several pages of detail starting with Delta if you’re crediting to Virgin (you can research the same info across the websites of the airlines concerned)
          https://www.virginatlantic.com/gb/en/flying-club/partners/airlines/delta-air-lines.html

          • David D says:

            Apologies for the delay in replying, only just seen this a few moments ago. Looks like short-haul if mirrored to the Delta way personally would be best credited still to Flying Blue. Even flights to say the Middle East in J would only earn 40 tier POINTS each way on Flying Club from CDG or AMS.

  6. Stuart says:

    And how will AF/KL Flying Blue members benefit from flying with VS?

    • Charlieface says:

      Redemptions on VS flights

    • They will earn FB miles and be able to redeem them on Virgin.

      • Stuart says:

        Some non SkyTeam airlines (e.g. Japan Airlines) allow Flying Blue members to earn FB Miles and XP on flights. Since the AF/KL/DL/VS is a joint venture will FB XP and Miles be earnt on VS flights even though VS is not in SkyTeam?

  7. So is it going to be possible to book flights with Virgin miles on other skyteam members ? e.g. I can book say aeroflot with delta miles , am I going to be able to use Virgin miles same way ?

  8. Gomigo says:

    OT, Any time estimate for inaugural VA GRU to LHR route ? Would like to know the booking start date.

  9. BY PRESS ASSOCIATION Share Share this article on Facebook Share this article on Twitter
    9th August 2019
    By Alan Jones, PA Industrial Correspondent

    Leaders of the pilots’ union have continued to meet with British Airways management in a bid to avert a strike over pay.

    The two sides held talks on Thursday under the chairmanship of the conciliation service Acas, which said they had “concluded for now”.

    Members of the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) have voted in favour of industrial action.

    Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said on Friday: “Talks at Acas concluded without agreement yesterday evening, however talks between Balpa and British Airways continued overnight. We will bring further news as soon as there are any concrete developments.”

    Union leaders have held back from naming strike dates while talks continue.

    Balpa would have to give 14 days’ notice of any industrial action.

  10. iamfugly says:

    I have just flown J class long haul on KLM and will fly J long haul again with Air France soon. I have not selected a frequent flyer programme to accrue the miles on either of the legs yet. Do you think I can wait it out look enough (considering there is a 6 week timeframe) for the JV to get the green light so I can accrue the miles to my Virgin Flying Club programme?
    And yes, I know I will get the odd comment that practically I can just wait it out and see what happens myself, but I tend to forget about things and in 6 weeks I suspect I would do so with these miles. I’ll rather not lose the miles if I can avoid it, even if I have to accrue the miles to a little used (of little benefit) Flying Blue account.
    Many thanks in advance

    • David D says:

      Depends really. If you have status with VS, then wait it out and set weekly or monthly reminders to check. If not the by travelling in J, and assuming one connection in each direction you will after the AF flight and assuming you are starting from zero will be a Silver Flying Blue member. Also, you should be a minimum of 56 XP towards the qualification for Gold. If flying further than the UAE for example, it would be 80 XP towards it.

      Basically, it would be up to yourself to make the decision.

      • Even if they can later be credited it will almost certainly only be for flights taken after the date of implementation, not for retro-claims in the past. So best to claim what you can now before you forget.

        • Harry T says:

          I agree with Nick – I sincerely doubt they will allow retrospective crediting to VS. Take the Flying Blue miles and status IMO.

    • Be careful here. If the other airlines are like BA then you can’t retroclaim flights from other airlines from flights before you joined the scheme. I.e. join the schemes now otherwise you might forfeit the miles.

      • iamfugly says:

        Hi, thanks for the advice. I do have an account open prior to the flights so should be ok.
        Thanks

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

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