Virgin Australia: In bed with United Airlines now
From April 2022, Virgin will have ditched former USA partner Delta and will have a live-in relationship with United Airlines. That will increase the number of USA destinations available to Virgin customers by a factor of 3! It will increase direct destinations in the US, and provide 92 one-stop connections to the USA, Mexico, Caribbean and South America.
Having United as a live-in partner also provides reciprocal lounge access, and the ability for Velocity members to earn points, status credits and tier benefits while travelling on United.
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The arrangement will involve codeshare co-operation and reciprocal Frequent Flyer benefits to earn, redeem, and enjoy tier benefits. United provides more services between Australia and the USA than any other airline, including direct services for Los Angeles and San Francisco to Sydney. United hopes to bring back direct services between Melbourne and Houston later in 2022
Partnership – the way for Virgin Australia to resume international flying
When Virgin Australia went into administration in 2020 and was bought by Bain later that year, it terminated all its leases of B777 aircraft which it used to fly to America’s west coast. That was the end of Virgin Australia’s own long-haul international services.
Virgin has given no indication that it will return to any of these routes, or lease or buy any new aircraft to give it a long-haul capacity. On the basis of this deal, it looks like Virgin will be using partnership/codeshares to give it international capacity.
For Velocity and MileagePlus members
Eligible Velocity and MileagePlus members are entitled to the following benefits when travelling on Virgin Australia and United services worldwide:
- Priority check-in
- Priority boarding
- Priority baggage delivery and additional baggage check allowance
- Priority security clearance
- Lounge access
Other International flights
Virgin has not flown internationally for a while but re-starts its services to Fiji this week (Thursday 16 December), and plans to return to Bali in Indonesia and Queenstown in New Zealand in 2022. Virgin’s flexible flying policy – which allows you to re-schedule your flying without change fees (although with possible fare difference) has only been extended to the end of 2022 – which gives more confidence when booking these flights with cash or points on Virgin or its partner airlines.
This is good for Velocity members, as it allows you to redeem points for international flights again. It’s also good to have an Australian based carrier as an alternative to Qantas and Jetstar on international routes, like Fiji and Bali