Virgin America Begins First Codeshare Pact with Virgin Australia
By James Shillinglaw
July 05, 2012 10:21 PM
Virgin America said it has launched its first codeshare, perhaps not surprisingly with sister-branded Virgin Australia. Both carriers are owned, at least in part by Virgin Atlantic Airways, though Virgin Atlantic cannot by law own more than a 25 percent stake in Virgin America. Indeed, the three Virgin airlines are rapidly creating what is effectively a vast international airline with networks in Australia, the U.S., the trans-Atlantic, Europe and beyond.
Effective July 4 Australian passengers could buy codeshare Virgin America flights from Los Angeles to Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Philadelphia, Portland, Seattle and Washington D.C. This codeshare agreement builds on a 2009 interline agreement with Virgin Australia that paved the way for a more unified travel experience for passengers flying between Australia and the U.S. Virgin America's recent move to a new reservations system allowed the carrier to initiate the codeshare alliance as well as expand its interline partnerships.
"This is the first-ever codeshare agreement for our young airline and we are excited to offer a more seamless experience to travelers from both sides of the Pacific, especially our most loyal guests – those who seek out the award-winning service for which Virgin airlines are known," said Diana Walke, Virgin America's vice president of planning and sales.
Earlier this year, Virgin America announced an enhancement to its Elevate frequent-flyer program that allows members to earn and redeem points across the combined route network of the Virgin family of carriers. In May, all three Virgin airlines joined forces to launch a joint entertainment, digital and out-of-home "Virgin Skies" advertising campaign to convey the unique Virgin in-flight experience in the Los Angeles market and mark the airlines' global frequent-flyer partnership. The centerpiece of the campaign includes the creation of an independent short film shot entirely on three commercial Virgin flights while at 35,000 feet.
The new codeshare agreement does not change the airlines' existing interline agreement, through which guests already enjoy a unified "Virgin" experience at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Under the codeshare, guests can check-in once and receive all their boarding passes. Domestic to international connections at LAX are within the same terminal (Terminal 3), so guests traveling from the U.S. to Australia do not have to re-clear security. Both airlines transfer baggage between connecting flights and to guests' final destinations, with customs clearance of guests and bags still required for travelers coming from Australia to the U.S.