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Virgin Atlantic launches codeshares with LATAM – what does it mean for you?

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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.

Virgin Atlantic LATAM codeshare

The partnership covers LATAM’s direct flights between London and Sao Paulo, as well as onward connection to 12 Brazilian cities:

  • Belo Horizonte
  • Brasilia
  • Curitiba
  • Florianopolis
  • Fortaleza
  • Goiania
  • Londrina
  • Porto Alegre
  • Recife
  • Rio de Janeiro
  • Salvador
  • Vitoria

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.

Virgin Atlantic LATAM codeshare partnership

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:

LATAM business class

The seat is based on the Thompson Vantage XL which offers a staggered 1-2-1 layout. It is the same seat as in Malaysia Airlines business class (review here) or SWISS business class (review here).

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

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):

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 points bonus (SPECIAL OFFER) and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Rewards credit card

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 Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two 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 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.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER) and an unbeatable set of 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.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits 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 (24)

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

  • TimM says:

    That is the most non-codeshare codeshare arrangement I have ever heard about.

    • Alan says:

      Haha agree – seems pretty pointless TBH!

    • AJA says:

      😀 I agree. Unless the fare is cheaper I’m not sure why you wouldn’t simply book directly with Latam.

      • 1ATL says:

        Virgins book with confidence policy is significantly better than the Latam one which is effectively business as usual unless they happen to cancel your flight. That would be enough reason for me if the fare wasn’t too far wide of the Latam direct offering.

  • S879 says:

    Is it possible to book a reward ticket for a family member using my Virgin miles?

    • AJA says:

      From the article:

      it is currently impossible to redeem Virgin Points for tickets on the LATAM Sao Paulo flights.

      So no not at the moment

      • S879 says:

        Sorry my question was a general one. Can I book a reward ticket for someone else – like a VA flight from London to New York?

        • AL says:

          Yes – I would suggest doing this by transferring points to a VAA FC account in their name first, though. Not only will they earn the TPs they’re entitled to (you didn’t fly, so you wouldn’t get them anyway), but past experience of doing this suggests to me that it is much smoother.

        • Rob says:

          Yes.

          • S879 says:

            Thanks but transferring miles to their account would cost a lot of money as I don’t have any status with Virgin.

        • Track says:

          You do not need to transfer anything.

          VA were always happy to combine balances from several accounts to make a redemption booking. They just need to speak to an account holder first to authorise the drawdown.

  • Richie says:

    If LATAM Argentina and Peru flights were included, this would be more interesting.

    • JDB says:

      Unfortunately LATAM Argentina has been shut down. You now only have FlyBondi and Jetsmart as alternatives to AR. All have their issues, but have opted for AR for domestic flights next month.

      • Richie says:

        Thanks for the information. I enjoyed the LAN Argentina flight from AEP to IGU Iguazú.

        • meta says:

          I think Latam Peru is still going on. FT reports from October/November 21 suggest you can still book Lima-Cusco with Avios, but only by calling in. Haven’t tried myself, but plan to do soon.

          • meta says:

            I thought I’d price it via Iberia though won’t book due to non-refundability. One way – 12k+£17 in taxes for economy. I imagine it would be the same via BAEC. Not really good use of Avios given that you can get domestic business called PE for £57.

  • Jon says:

    If I were to book a LATAM business fare, would I be able to access the Clubhouse Lounge at T3 seeing as Latam fly from T3 as well?

  • Track says:

    Word of HUGE CAUTION:

    LATAM has a VERY casual attitude to downgrades and dropping you to Economy if basically they think you did not pay a high enough fare.

    I have several situations now when booked sales fare, subsequently prices went up and LATAM guaranteed moved the booking to Y in order to re-sell business class seats more expensively.

    They are obvious about it, and they know they have a common way out: if you ask for Business cabin back — they re-route you via BCN and old 767 aircraft which nearly always has Business availability, just not very popular..

  • Jack says:

    meh… no tier miles and no RDM for this no thanks!

    Hopefully they will have something similar to Air China codeshare agreement before. But LA is very stingy with releasing J to partners.

  • David Cohen says:

    Also it doesn’t seem possible to credit LA coded flights to a VS Flying Club account, which seems like an omission. Would have to credit to DL, BA or even LH instead!

    • Rhys says:

      LA is LATAM Chile! And either way, as we wrote in the article, the codeshare isn’t earning yet!

      • David Cohen says:

        LATAM Brasil hasn’t used the legacy JJ (for TAM) code for a long time. Similarly the LP codes for ex-LAN Peru have also been retired. All of the various LATAM subsidiaries all use the LA codes. However the point remains, you can credit LA coded flights to British Airways, to Delta and even to Lufthansa, but not Virgin!

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

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