Transport Airlines

The Growing Partnership Between Delta and Virgin Atlantic Makes Both Airlines Look Good

Apr 06, 2014 8:00 am

Skift Take

Delta and Virgin will be fighting hard to counter not just British Airways, but the growing might of the now-bigger Oneworld Alliance.

— Jason Clampet

Report: Social Media Customer Service in the Travel Industry


A rendering of Delta and Virgin Atlantic planes.

Virgin Atlantic’s Heathrow Clubhouse.

Delta’s new economy class amenity kit.

Virgin’s in-flight bar

 

We love it when a partnership can learn from each other.

It seems the new strategic partnership of Virgin Atlantic and Delta are helping each other out. The airlines recently announced that some Delta flights on key business routes (London to New York-JFK, London to Boston, and the new London to Seattle) are now utilising London Heathrow’s Terminal 3, rather than Terminal 4 (Delta will continue to operate its Atlanta, Detroit and Minneapolis services from London Heathrow’s Terminal 4).

Competing against the alliance of British Airways and American, the new partnership is trying as hard as they can to steal passengers from the larger of the two alliances on the UK-America route.

For business class passengers, this means Delta passengers flying to JFK, Boston and Seattle can now take advantage of Virgin Atlantic’s award winning Heathrow Clubhouse which is still one of the best business class lounges in the world. Delta’s lounges in the U.S. are definitely getting better, and the airline over the past 24 months has pushed its cool factor through the roof, even partying with celebs during the Oscars season. It seems like Virgin is slowly filtering its cool factor into the American airline.

Both airlines operate out of Terminal 4 at New York JFK, there are some missing opportunities for synergy here though which will hopefully be filled, with airports such as Los Angeles currently not really offering a seamless experience between the two carriers. Virgin Atlantic is still based in the ageing Terminal 2 at LAX and new sister Delta a mad complicated “Parkour-over-a-few-busy-roads-and-a-maze-of-a-carpark” over in Terminal 5. Virgin currently uses a variety of lounges at Terminal 2, and none of them up to Virgin Atlantic standards. This is just one example of where passengers can really benefit from a little investment.

While BA is currently advertising in the UK their 1000 flatbed seats across to America every day through their partnership with AA, this new alliance means Virgin/Delta business class passengers also can benefit from flatbed seats, and unlike the BA / AA partnership, (most) benefiting from direct aisle access.

For economy passengers, there are more even-bigger changes. Whilst Virgin have been doing this for a while, it seems there is more alignment here. Delta international flights to European cities can now benefit from free sleep kits, similar (although more basic) versions of their ‘business elite’ amenity kits offering improved headphones, eye masks and ear plugs, and whats-more, anyone fancy an ice cream during your in-flight movie or bottled water after the meal? No problem now!

The Airline partnership now means you can select from 32 daily nonstop flights between North America and the U.K. So the question now is less about who offers more, but instead, do you want to ‘Yank or Brit’?

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