If you're travelling across the Tasman with Virgin Australia or Air New Zealand, you'll want to know how much luggage you can take.
The luggage issue is probably the most inconsistent part of the two airlines' trans-Tasman alliance. A Virgin Australia spokesperson told us: "In terms of frequent flyer baggage allowances, the principle remains that Velocity Frequent Flyer and Airpoints Members are entitled to the baggage allowance as per their membership level, regardless of the airline operating their flight."
The one caveat, the spokesperson added was "the condition that they book their flight on the airline code of their frequent flyer program."
Australian Business Traveller is still getting regular reports of Silver, Gold and Platinum Velocity flyer cardholders who are told by Virgin Australia staff that they get extra luggage allowance, and are then told in no uncertain terms by Air New Zealand staff that this isn't the case, and that they need to stump up the baggage fees.
We've updated our guide to reflect Virgin Australia's new luggage rules introduced on 16 May. Things have actually got less complicated across the Tasman than they used to be, but it's definitely worth arming yourself with the facts of what your baggage allowances are to avoid being caught out at the check-in counter or even the boarding gate.
Standard luggage allowances
If you're not a Silver, Gold or Platinum member with Virgin Australia's Velocity Frequent Flyer programme, you don't get additional luggage allowances.
So you'll get what it says on the ticket, according to your fare. On Virgin Australia:
- Saver: 7kg hand luggage, plus a 23kg checked bag if you purchase it
- Flexi: 7kg hand luggage, plus a 23kg checked bag
- Premium Economy: 7kg hand luggage, plus two checked bags up to 32kg each
If you're on a Saver or Flexi fare and your bag comes in between 23kg and 32kg, you'll be stuck with a A$40 overweight fee.
For extra bags, you'll pay A$25 for one bag, A$80 all-in for two bags, and A$135 for three bags.
Note that when pre-purchasing luggage online, the maximum of three bags covered under the online pre-purchase scheme includes your ticket or Velocity allowance – it doesn’t come on top of it. We've covered the full details in the "Limits on pre-purchased baggage online" section of our article explaining the new baggage rules.
Velocity Frequent Flyer Silver, Gold and Platinum cardholders
The basic rule for you, Velocity Frequent Flyers, is that whatever you get on Virgin Australia you should get on flights you book through the Virgin Australia website that are operated by Air New Zealand:
- Velocity Silvers receive a free 23kg checked bag on economy fares, even Virgin Australia Saver fares that don't allow bags.
- Velocity Golds, however, get to bring a 32kg bag with them whenever they fly economy, no matter what fare type they buy.
- Velocity Platinums get two bags of up to 32kg each.
Extra luggage benefits extend across both airlines
Despite what's listed in the trans-Tasman alliance's official travel agent reference (a 1MB PDF file which you can download directly from this link), a Virgin Australia spokesperson told us that luggage benefits extend across the two airlines.
The section on page 14 of the guide says: "IMPORTANT – Please note that a DJ Premium customer who books on a NZ or NZ7000 series flight will not be entitled to any additional checked baggage allowance over and above what is included as part of the NZ fare." On page 13, a similar section denies extra baggage to Air New Zealand Premium customers.
"Disregard both those sections marked 'important'" the Virgin Australia spokesperson told us. "They won't be there in the next edition of the guidance."
Velocity Gold & Platinum allowances trump domestic Air NZ seat-only fares
Despite Air New Zealand's removal of a checked bag from its basic "grabaseat" ticket rate, top-tier Velocity frequent flyers are entitled to free checked luggage on these flights.
"Velocity allowances override luggage restrictions, even on the Grabaseat fare without bag" a Virgin Australia spokeswoman told Australian Business Traveller. "Velocity Gold members get 32kg of checked luggage, Platinum get 69kg."
We were surprised, as even Air New Zealand's Star Alliance Gold partner frequent flyers are specifically denied this benefit, but the spokesperson double-checked the details and re-confirmed the Velocity privileges.
As frequent travellers to New Zealand, we've first-hand experience (and numerous reader reports) that this has still not filtered down to Air New Zealand's staff. So be prepared to stick your ground there and ask to see a supervisor if necessary.
If you encounter difficulties clarifying your baggage entitlements, especially against an Air New Zealand flight, Virgin Australia recommends that travellers call Velocity customer service: in Australia, the number is 131 875; and in New Zealand, 0800 230 875. (You can also dial direct to +61 2 8667 5924.)
For more of our in-depth coverage of the Air New Zealand/Virgin Australia trans-Tasman alliance, check out:
- the trans-Tasman alliance: how it works, routes and flights
- how to snag those extra-legroom seats on Air NZ or Pacific Blue
- those ticket and fare types, demystified
- what you need to get into Air NZ's regional lounges as a Velocity member
- how to get ultra-comfortable long haul seats and service on trans-Tasman flights
- which Air NZ flights from Australia give free premium economy seat upgrades to frequent flyers