With Virgin Australia standing alone from the global families of Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance, the airline instead relies on its own network of partners across the globe – among them Etihad Airways – to enable Velocity Gold and Platinum members to earn points and enjoy perks such as lounge access wherever they travel.
But what you’ll receive when booked on one airline partner can vastly differ from what you’ll get on another, even when flying through the same city.
Here's a run-down of Virgin Australia’s lounge access arrangements with Etihad Airways for Velocity Gold and Platinum frequent flyers, both at home and abroad.
Etihad Airways lounge access: Australia
Etihad flies out of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth in Australia but the lounge rules vary from city to city.
The reason? Etihad operates its own lounge in Sydney (below) while relying on other airlines to fill the gaps elsewhere.
Etihad rolls out the welcome mat at its Sydney lounge (below) for all Velocity Gold and Platinum members travelling on the daytime EY451 flight or Virgin Australia’s codeshare service to Abu Dhabi (VA29 / EY6451), as of course it does for all business and first class guests on the EY455 flight along with its own Etihad Guest Platinum card-holders.
However, Etihad Guest Gold and Velocity Gold and Platinum members booked in economy on the evening EY455 Airbus A380 service to Abu Dhabi are shuttled to the Air New Zealand lounge (below) due to capacity constraints.
Etihad and Virgin also share Air New Zealand's Brisbane and Melbourne lounges, both of which are overdue for a revamp, although Etihad will cut the ribbon on its own Melbourne lounge later this year.
As for Perth, Virgin’s Gold and Platinum frequent flyers can ironically stop by the Qantas international business class lounge prior to Etihad flights because Etihad uses the Qantas lounge as its ‘default’ for all eligible travellers.
Etihad Airways lounge access: Abu Dhabi
Whether flying through Abu Dhabi en route to Europe or simply returning home from a productive visit to the UAE capital, top-tier Velocity Platinum members can access the Etihad Premium Lounge before their onward flight, even when travelling in economy…
… normally a perk kept for Etihad business and first class passengers but which also includes an in-lounge Six Senses Spa offering free 15-minute treatments on a first come, first served basis…
… comprehensive buffet dining…
… full bartender service with a generous selection of spirits…
… a nail salon and barber (fees apply), plus a comfy business nook for getting things done.
Velocity Gold members flying in Etihad economy can instead visit the recently-renovated Al Reem lounge operated by Plaza Premium, spanning three storeys and offering the basics such as showers, wireless Internet and buffet dining.
Access to the Etihad Arrivals Lounge, however, is a privilege reserved solely for business class and first class flyers, regardless of their frequent flyer status.
Etihad Airways lounge access: across the globe
Unlike Virgin Australia’s partnership with Singapore Airlines that only provides lounge access at airports where SQ has its own facilities, Velocity members flying with Etihad have a much broader range of lounges to enjoy.
For starters, Etihad runs lounges in Manchester, Frankfurt and Paris (pictured) – three cities where Velocity Gold and Platinum members have no lounge when flying in Singapore Airlines economy – yet by booking with Etihad, lounges are at your disposal.
Gold and Platinum members are also welcome in Etihad’s London Heathrow lounge and contract lounges such as in Brussels, Dusseldorf, Geneva and Milan, plus those in Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa: two more cities not covered when flying with SQ.
Added to that, lounges practically wherever Etihad flies including across Middle Eastern cities like Amman, Bahrain and Cairo; Asian destinations such as Bangkok, Shanghai and Tokyo and North American hotspots including New York (below) and Toronto.
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