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Virgin Australia Drops Delta in Favor of United

Could Virgin Australia be closer than ever to joining the Star Alliance?
For over a decade, Virgin Australia aligned themselves with Delta Air Lines, allowing travelers to book interline flights between the two carriers and earn airline miles within their respective programs.


By 2022, that long-standing agreement will come to an end, in favor of one that aligns with other partners on the Pacific Rim. The Australian carrier announced they will begin an alliance with Chicago’s United Airlines in the coming year.


United-Virgin Australia Partnership to Start by April 2022

Executives for Virgin Australia say the relationship makes sense given United’s presence on the continent island. Of the legacy U.S. carriers, United offers the most flights between America and Australian destinations. In addition to direct flights between California and Sydney, United is expected to launch a flight between Melbourne and Houston by mid-2022.


Under the agreement, the two airlines will offer interline booking between the two airlines, offering United flyers access to Virgin Australia flights, while Virgin Australia flyers will get access to United’s global network. Members of both frequent flyer programs – United MileagePlus and Virgin Australia Velocity – will be able to earn miles in their scheme of choice.


In addition, elite members of both programs will receive reciprocal benefits when flying on the other carrier. The most loyal customers will get priority check-in, priority boarding and lounge access when flying on the other carrier.


With the announcement, the Australian airline seems one step closer towards bidding for membership in the Star Alliance. In 2020, the carrier announced partnerships with fellow United partners All Nippon Airways in Japan and Singapore Airlines, which could give Virgin Australia a bigger footprint.


Codeshare flights between United and Virgin Australia are expected to go on sale in early 2022, with the integration complete by April.


Virgin Australia Thanks Delta, While the Atlanta-Based Airline Looks Elsewhere

Although the new partnership means the end of the Delta alliance, leaders for Virgin Australia were gracious enough to thank Delta for over 10 years of working together and committed to a smooth transition for passengers. The carrier says they will honor all Delta customer bookings through the transitory period and SkyMiles Medallion members will continue to get reciprocal benefits.


In turn, Delta announced they would make a major investment in several other international carriers, including Virgin Atlantic and Aeromexico.

Aloha1 December 15, 2021

DL and Skyteam are rapidly becoming an undesirable second tier alliance compared to Star Alliance. 

rylan December 14, 2021

Pretty significant loss for DL as there is now no good option on skyteam to get to Australia from the US.  One very expensive flight/day on DL metal and no other codeshares is not a great option.  Flying to Korea first to connect on KE is a poor choice.