New Couple Delta And Virgin Atlantic Will Begin Passenger-Sharing In July

Friends with benefits twosome Delta and Virgin Atlantic have been linked since December of last year, and now it seems the duo is ready to make its debut as an official couple: The airlines will start passenger-sharing in July, which is akin to holding hands in public instead of just coming over late at night to “hang out.”

Delta Air Lines has wrapped up its deal to buy a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic, a $360 million plan we first heard about late in 2012.

“We very excited to announce today that share transaction has been completed and we stand firmly together as partners,” Delta President Ed Bastian said on a conference call with reporters, via USA Today. “This is a strategic investment that will enhance Delta’s network and create a trans-Atlantic joint venture between the U.S. and the U.K., which is going to be a $3 billion entity.”

So the two aren’t moving in together — that would be a merger, in business-couple speak — but Delta has a pretty nice chunk of Virgin now, which comes with a seat on the board of the company.

What does this mean for you? Passengers should see pooled flight options and also the ability to use frequent-flier benefits on both airlines, including earning miles toward elite status no matter which airline you fly on.

July will see the airlines selling seats on some of each other’s flights, which is where the passenger-sharing comes in. And instead of one fancy lounge, eligible members of either carrier will now have two fancy lounge options.

The United States Department of Transportation still needs to approve a bigger joint-venture plan, but the airlines say they expect that to happen in early 2014.

“In the meantime, we look forward to welcoming Virgin Atlantic passengers onboard our flights and to offering Delta customers a bigger and better network between North America and the U.K.,” Bastian said.

Delta, Virgin Atlantic to begin passenger-sharing in July [USA Today]