The partnership between Delta and Virgin Atlantic continues to move forward. The two airlines announced today that the transaction for Delta to acquire a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic has closed, making the new ownership official. The two also announced the details behind their initial cooperation in the trans-Atlantic markets, including code sharing on each others’ flights and mileage earning rates starting on 3 July 2013. Even without the full joint venture in place (they expect such to be approved later this year and put into effect in Q1 ’14) the loyalty programs are behaving as if it is.
For SkyMiles members flying on Virgin Atlantic all published fares will earn at least 100% credit, both towards award miles and Medallion-tier qualification. Here’s the earning chart:
The class of service bonus earning is nice and even betters some existing JV partners such as Air France, at least in full-fare economy classes.
For Flying Club members on Delta-operated flights the earnings are similar. For premium cabin long-haul flights the earning rate can be as high as 200%, while all economy class fares earn at 100%.
The phrase about "qualifying international classes" is an interesting one but the note in the prior section about domestic service counting, too, doesn’t leave me too worried. The tier-point earning rates for flights on Delta are comparable to the other "main" partners Virgin Atlantic has:
It is slightly interesting that the threshold for long/short flights on Delta is at 3,000 miles while other partners are mostly at 2,000 miles. Seems to exclude transcons from the premium earning level. The rates are comparable to the earning levels for Virgin-operated flights in the discount buckets of both cabins; if you are on full-fare economy or business the earning rates are slightly better flying on Virgin.
On the code sharing front the agreements are somewhat broad, with 91 Delta routes to add a Virgin code and 17 Virgin routes to carry a Delta code. All flights on both carriers in and out of the UK will carry the partner code. Additionally, the Delta code will be placed on the short-haul flights operated under the Little Red brand to three destinations in the UK as well as on 14 trans-Atlantic routes covering 11 North American destinations. The Virgin code will be seen in a number of new destinations, including Hawaii and smaller US markets like Louisville, Ft. Myers and Nashville. The full list is at the bottom of the press release here.
Nothing too surprising in the details here; that applies both for good or ill.