This week, Virgin Atlantic announced a new codeshare partnership with LATAM, the largest airline in Latin America.
Well – sort of the largest. LATAM is actually made up of several different operational units based in Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru. It appears that Virgin’s codeshare applies specifically to LATAM Brasil.
The partnership covers LATAM’s direct flights between London and Sao Paulo, as well as onward connection to 12 Brazilian cities:
- Belo Horizonte
- Porto Alegre
- Rio de Janeiro
Conversely, LATAM passengers will be able to connect onto Virgin Atlantic’s non-US routes, including Tel Aviv, Delhi and Hong Kong.
A quick search suggests average fares are just over £600 in economy and just under £2,000 in business class.
What does this means for you?
Fundamentally, it means you can now book direct flights to Sao Paulo and Brazil via the Virgin Atlantic website. You will get a Virgin Atlantic VS flight number although you will be flying on LATAM-operated aircraft.
Note that you cannot book the domestic Brazilian flights individually – the codeshare only applies to connecting flights from London.
What about earning and redeeming points?
At present, you will not earn Virgin Points or tier points when flying to Sao Paulo and beyond on a Virgin Atlantic flight number. It is not clear when this functionality will launch, but it makes the codeshare a bit of a dead duck for now.
In the same vein, it is currently impossible to redeem Virgin Points for tickets on the LATAM Sao Paulo flights.
Virgin Atlantic tells us it is working on making both happen, although it is currently unclear when that will be. For now, however, earning and burning on the LATAM flights is impossible.
Wasn’t Virgin Atlantic supposed to launch Sao Paulo flights?
Virgin was originally hoping to launch its own flights to Sao Paulo in March 2020. This was an unexpected move as Virgin Atlantic had never flown to South America before.
The route never started. I was supposed to be on the inaugural but – just a few weeks out – it became clear that Covid was going to be a global problem and would tip airlines into the biggest crisis the aviation industry had ever faced.
In the meantime, Virgin Atlantic’s 49% shareholder Delta Air Lines acquired a 20% stake in LATAM and pulled it out of the oneworld alliance. Virgin has a very close relationship with Delta and it appears that it became more attractive to launch a codeshare than to fly the route themselves.
What can you expect on a LATAM flight?
LATAM Brasil operates Boeing 777 aircraft between London and Sao Paulo. Over the past few years LATAM has been aligning its business class product across the various national subsidiaries with the launch of a brand new business class seat:
Flights to Sao Paulo and beyond on LATAM are now bookable on the Virgin Atlantic website here.
How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (May 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, one has a bonus of 30,000 points until 6th June 2022):
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:
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.
The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 60,000 Virgin Points, if you apply by 1st June 2022.
Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into 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.)