Emirates Skywards and Virgin Blue Velocity Rewards end frequent flyer partnership

By John Walton, January 25 2011
Emirates Skywards and Virgin Blue Velocity Rewards end frequent flyer partnership

Emirates will close its Skywards frequent flyer partnership with Virgin Blue's Velocity Rewards at the end of March, so frequent flyers hoping to redeem points across the two programmes this year should book tickets quickly.

It's still possible to make reward bookings across the two airlines for tickets on dates up to 31 March 2012, but be sure your plans are set in stone -- changes won't be allowed after 31 March 2011.

If you have flights booked on one airline and want to receive points on the other's frequent flyer programme, that's still possible if you're flying on or before 31 March 2011. There's a six month window after that to claim any missing miles or points.

Until the end of March, Emirates Skywards members can book flights from Sydney to Melbourne on Virgin Blue for 16,000 miles return, or up to Darwin and the North West for 40,000 there and back.

Similarly, Virgin Blue's Velocity members can head off to London on Emirates in Economy for 128,000 points from Melbourne and Sydney or 75,000 points from Perth. Velocity members with bulging accounts can cash in 384,000 points for a return trip to London in Emirates' First Class Suites.

The change comes as Virgin Blue and its long-haul arm V Australia are becoming increasingly cozy with new partner Etihad, a key competitor for Emirates. 

While Emirates has three times as many aircraft as Etihad (including an order for 75 further Airbus A380 superjumbo aircraft), their home airports in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are only 100 km apart. It makes sense that Emirates is guarding the lucrative geographic advantage of its Gulf turf, especially with direct flights to Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

After 31 March Skywards members can earn and redeem miles on Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines, Korean Air, South African Airways and United Airlines. Continental Airlines is a partner until 26 March -- but Continental has merged with United and won't be around for much longer under its own name.

Velocity members will still be able to earn and redeem points on Virgin Blue (plus V Australia, Pacific Blue and Polynesian Blue), Delta, Etihad, Malaysia Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Skywest.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

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