Contributor: David Bernard
Recently Virgin Atlantic announced big changes to its own frequent flyer program that are set to go into effect on November 13, but some of the biggest and most disappointing news however is the ceasing of their partnership with their fellow company in the USA, Virgin America. Although this detail wasn’t really big news, it still doesn’t come as much of a shock. Earlier this year Virgin America announced that it would soon merge with Alaska Airlines, a big competitor against Delta Airlines. Delta currently owns a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic and so a continuing program would only hurt their earning potential and further devalue the partnership.
Neither airline have made this information big news, and in fact may flyers found out only when trying to redeem points from one airline into the next. They found that after November 13, award availability seemed to vanish. Upon checking with telephone reps, flyers worldwide soon found the news confirmed. This change goes into effect coincidentally the same day that their new major frequent flyer changes are also set. Overall, both pieces of information are certainly not a good thing for flyers, and perhaps that’s why they didn’t really post too much information on their homepages for a passersby to see.
In my opinion, the change isn’t crazy. In fact, I sort of expected it after Virgin announced their plans to merge with Alaska Airlines, seeing that Delta has such a huge stake in Virgin Atlantic. The news is still saddening of course to many flyers, but those who fly Delta and use the Virgin partnership will likely remain unaffected. The only flyers who are really losing here are those who fly between the three Virgin airlines. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Virgin America also cuts its ties with Virgin Australia sometime soon. Delta doesn’t have the same stake there, but still it could become a conflict of interest seeing that Delta also is a big partner with them.