I was recently checking for some flights for Singapore to London and noticed an odd pattern in pricing of Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic where booking with Virgin Atlantic you could save 15% or more.
As you may know Virgin Atlantic is a key partner of Singapore Airlines and was until recently 49% owned but has since seen the stake sold to Delta. However the benefits of the partnership still remain – and in fact the partnership with the Virgin group has been enhanced recently as shown with the Virgin Australia enhancement here.
Virgin Atlantic Codeshares with Singapore Airlines – Kangaroo Route
Virgin Atlantic don’t operate on the routes below but use codeshares with Singapore Airlines which is basically a marketing agreement between the two airlines. As such this tactic can only be used on flights that are codeshares, and for those based in Singapore that’s only for flights to London (codeshares to Australia can only be booked with a Singapore to London leg). For those living in the UK or Australia you can use this tactic for flights on the Kangaroo route. If you are flying beyond the UK to the US for example Virgin is a good choice – see here for full routes.
Differences in Economy
I’m only using the case of economy flights here as it was much easier to find than with business class examples (they did exists). For the purposes of this I looked at bookable Virgin Atlantic flights from Singapore to London return on various Singapore Airlines operated aircraft.
Example 1 – Next Week – SQ Flights 318 and 317
Singapore Airlines: S$ 2697
Virgin Atlantic: S$ 2568
Saving = S$ 129
Example 2 – Next Month – SQ Flights 318 and 319
Singapore Airlines: S$ 2305
Virgin Atlantic: S$ 1944
Saving = S$361
Example 3 – 6 Month’s Time – SQ Flights 318 and 305
Singapore Airlines: S$ 2315
Virgin Atlantic: S$ 2430
More Expensive! = S$115
If you find better examples let me know and leave a comment! Or if you’ve had experience doing this then let everyone else know.
As you can see two out of the three examples that I chose booking through Virgin Atlantic on the same flight would have been cheaper than through Singapore Airlines. I have also found business class fares with a difference of S$600 difference when booking through Virgin Atlantic, but the occurrence is not as repeatable as with the economy fares.
KrisFlyer Benefits and Status
Because you are booking with Virgin Atlantic these flights will still earn KrisFlyer Miles and Elite Miles at the same rate as if you were booking and flying directly with Singapore Airlines – but you should check that the booking classes are the same for each flight as this may reduce (or increase!) the amount of Elite Miles/Miles you actually earn.
Also please bear in mind the different fare conditions with the two carriers.
It’s a little unusual to find codeshare flights of the non-operating airline to be cheaper than the operating airline as a margin is usually just placed on top of the normal fare. In this case Virgin Atlantic seems to be selling many of the economy fares cheaper than Singapore Airlines, as well as some business class fares (you can’t book Suites/First through Virgin Atlantic if you were wondering). In addition to this KrisFlyer members will receive their usual KrisFlyer Miles and Elite Miles through Virgin Atlantic.
People looking to take advantage of this should check the booking classes and the relevant earning rates, as well of be aware that if you need to change or have issues with the booking you’ll need to go through Virgin Atlantic instead of Singapore Airlines.