In late 2012 Delta and Virgin Atlantic announced a new transatlantic joint venture. It was a smart move for both carriers. Virgin Atlantic was struggling and thought that in order to survive they’d have to join an alliance. Meanwhile this was an opportunity for Delta to even further increase their presence in London Heathrow, and put up a real fight against the American & British Airways joint venture between the US and London.
So without having to formally join an alliance, it seems that the joint venture has been working quite well, and the frequent flyer reciprocity has been good for consumers, in my opinion. Delta BusinessElite passengers and elite members can use the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse New York JFK and Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow, both of which are among my favorite business class lounges in the world (and almost on par with the best first class lounges).
SkyMiles members can redeem miles for travel in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class without fuel surcharges, which is awesome.
Delta and Virgin Atlantic will soon be taking their relationship one step further, as they’ll each be swapping one of their daily Los Angeles and Atlanta frequencies as of October 26, 2014.
Virgin Atlantic will be taking over one of Delta’s three daily Atlanta frequencies, and will operate an A330-300 with the following schedule:
VS103 London Heathrow to Atlanta departing 9:25AM arriving 2:20PM
VS104 Atlanta to London Heathrow departing 5:30PM arriving 6:35AM (+1 day)
Meanwhile Delta will be taking over one of Virgin Atlantic’s two daily Los Angeles frequencies, and will operate a 767-300ER with the following schedule:
DL35 London Heathrow to Los Angeles departing 3:00PM arriving 8:31PM
DL34 Los Angeles to London Heathrow departing 9:21PM arriving 3:25PM (+1 day)
Overall this is good news for consumers. You’ll never have complete “metal neutrality” among airlines that are part of a joint venture, so the more unique destinations your “native” airline serves, the better. For example, Delta Diamond Medallion members receive systemwide upgrades which they can redeem on Delta and not Virgin Atlantic. So having a new route on which those can be redeemed is a “win” for consumers.
(Tip of the hat to Daryl)