The four carriers plan to become the go-to resource for transatlantic air travel
Air France, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, and Delta Airlines have recently announced a codeshare partnership that will give more options to customers. Air France and KLM, a Dutch airline, had already merged back in 2004 and currently codeshare routes. The Air France-KLM Group had partnered with Atlanta-based Delta Airlines in 2009. Shortly after in 2013, Delta partnered with Virgin Atlantic. This most recent 2020 merger consolidates all these air travel giants into one large transatlantic partnership.
How This Partnership Affects Flyers
The Air France, KLM, Virgin, and Delta partnership means that customers can now travel to more places through these airlines. The aim of this partnership is to make these airlines the go-to source for transatlantic travel.
Because Air France and KLM already represent a single entity, both airlines already codeshare. This is an industry term meaning that the airlines share the same flight codes. This facilitates bookings and streamlines air travel.
Without codesharing, customers would have to book different legs of their flights separately and hope that they have enough time to connect to their next flight. Delta also codeshares with these two airlines. As such, you can find a lot of the same routes when you book through either of these three carriers.
The new partnership between Air France, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, and Delta is supposed to increase the number of transatlantic flights to 341 per day. This includes 110 nonstop transatlantic routes. Through their partnership with Delta, the European carriers can now connect to 238 cities in North America. Conversely, Delta passengers now have access to 98 cities in continental Europe and 16 cities in the U.K.
Putting the Codeshare to the Test
We at BestCards.com put the airlines’ partnership to the test. We wanted to see if we can travel from a small U.S. airport to a more obscure European destination. Our starting point was Madison, Wisconsin, which Delta Airlines currently services. Our destination was Sofia, Bulgaria.
Booking this route involved practically the same procedures on both the KLM and Air France websites. This isn’t so surprising as both airlines belong to the same company. The process was different on the Delta website, but we were essentially able to find the same route at a similar fare.
All three airlines had passengers taking a Delta Connection flight (operated by Skywest, which uses Delta livery) to Detroit. From Detroit, Delta flew passengers to Amsterdam Schiphol.
Bulgaria Air was responsible for the last leg of the flight to Sofia. This flag-bearing Eastern European airline already codeshares with KLM and Air France.
However, the same route wasn’t available on Virgin Atlantic’s website. In fact, no flights appeared when we selected our departure and destination airports. Since Virgin is essentially the newcomer in this partnership, it’s not surprising that its booking site hasn’t caught up to the other carriers.
How This Partnership Affects Credit Cardholders
According to press releases that each carrier has issued, customers were able to start benefiting from this partnership beginning on February 13th of this year. Consumers who own any of these airlines’ credit cards may not see exclusive changes to their benefits.
However, members of the airlines’ loyalty programs will have a lot more flexibility in terms of how they earn and redeem points or miles. Since nearly all airline cardholders also belong to these programs, they will be able to reap the same benefits.
Perhaps the most immediate perk for loyalty program members is that they’ll earn points on bookings they make on any of these four carriers. What’s more, they can redeem their points on Air France, KLM, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic purchases.
This detail is going to make it much easier for cardholders to rack up more points and attain elite status. On that note, cardholders with elite status will now have access to more airport lounges.
According to an official Air France press release, all partner airlines will roll out some additional features later this year. This will include more codeshare routes, which will make it easier for consumers to book travel to even more destinations between North America and Europe.
KLM, Air France, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic will also start aligning their schedules more throughout 2020. This will increase the number and variety of routes available to travelers. It will also mean that you’ll start to see the same flights on the Virgin Atlantic booking site that already feature on the other carriers’ sites.
One of the more exciting features to debut later this year involves the partnering airlines’ mobile apps. You’ll be able to access flight information from any of the four airlines on any of the airlines’ apps. What’s more, you’ll be able to check in and select your seats on any of these apps. So, if you book a KLM flight, you’ll be able to manage your flight from your Delta, Air France, or Virgin Atlantic app.