Virgin Australia, Air Canada launch frequent flyer partnership

Once international travel resumes you'll be able to earn and burn Velocity points on Air Canada flights.

By David Flynn, January 8 2021
Virgin Australia, Air Canada launch frequent flyer partnership

Virgin Australia and Air Canada are set to roll out a new alliance which will see their respective Velocity and Aeroplan frequent flyers able to earn and burn points across both airlines.

Taking effect from January 19, it comes amid glimmers of hope on the prospect of international travel restarting.

It also comes just over four years since the airlines first announced a "strategic cooperation agreement" in December 2016, spanning from codeshare flights to reciprocal frequent flyer benefits.

Since then, Aeroplan has been relaunched and Virgin Australia rescued from collapse by new US owners Bain Capital.

"While the COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges for travel, particularly in the form of border restrictions and route reductions, this new partnership positions Air Canada Aeroplan to be at the ready for the recovery," Air Canada says, adding that "Trans-Pacific travel between Australia and Canada is an important market."

In pre-pandemic days, Air Canada flew from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Vancouver, although the Melbourne-Vancouver route was set to become a seasonal service instead of running year-round.

Vancouver also served as a gateway for onwards flights within Canada and, for some travellers, a pivot back to US cities such as Seattle and New York.

Velocity Points on Air Canada flights

As is the norm, the number of Velocity Points earned on an Air Canada flight is based on the fare class and the number of miles flown.

Here's the earning table for hoovering up Velocity Points on domestic Air Canada flights.

Velocity Points earning rates for domestic Air Canada flights.
Velocity Points earning rates for domestic Air Canada flights.

If you're looking to bolster your status credits tally on that domestic Air Canada flight, here's where you stand.

Velocity status credits earning rates for domestic Air Canada flights.
Velocity status credits earning rates for domestic Air Canada flights.

Virgin notes that Discount Economy fare classes S, T, L, A and K "are ineligible for Status Credit earn."

On an international Air Canada flight, here's how many Velocity Points you can earn.

Velocity Points earning rates for international Air Canada flights.
Velocity Points earning rates for international Air Canada flights.

Likewise, here's the Velocity status credits earning table for international Air Canada flights.

Velocity status credits earning rates for international Air Canada flights.
Velocity status credits earning rates for international Air Canada flights.

And how many of your Velocity Points will it take to book a domestic or international Air Canada flight?

Virgin's not sharing that at the moment, as redeeming points across all Virgin partner airlines is currently paused, but the airline says it'll reveal this at a later date.

Velocity access to Air Canada lounges

A Virgin Australia spokesman tells Executive Traveller the partnership currently doesn't include reciprocal lounge access, such as allowing Velocity Gold and Platinum members into Air Canada's airport lounges.

Although this will hopefully fall into place once international travel resumes, Velocity members would only be welcomed at Air Canada's Maple Leaf lounges and not the more upmarket Signature Suite lounges which are reserved for business class passengers.

Aeroplan Miles on Virgin Australia flights

From an Air Canada perspective, Aeroplan members will be able to earn Aeroplan Miles and Status Qualifying Miles on all Virgin Australia flights, based on the type of ticket and the distance flown: ranging from 25% of miles flown for the cheapest economy fare to 150% in fully-flexible business class.

These are the Aeroplan earning rates for Virgin Australia flights.
These are the Aeroplan earning rates for Virgin Australia flights.

Aeroplan Miles can be redeemed against a Virgin Australia booking at the rates of Aeroplan’s standard partner award pricing chart, with a C$39 booking fee but no carrier surcharges.

For example, a quick one-way flit between Sydney and Melbourne or Sydney and Brisbane will cost 8,000 Aeroplan Miles in economy and 20,000 miles in business.

However, as the transcontinental trek between Sydney and Perth falls into the 2,001-5000 mile bracket on the Aeroplan table, that will cost 25,000 miles in economy and 45,000 miles in business.

Virgin will join Etihad Airways, Vistara, Azul and Air Serbia on Aeroplan's roster of travel partners.

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Apr 2013

Total posts 40

is this a sign of a burgeoning star alliance (connect?) member? 🤞🏼

Regardless Kudos for the partnership still being inked during these times.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 316

Don't know why you would read Star Alliance into this, that's a bit of a reach. I understand why so many people want to see Virgin join Star Alliance but I think it's the last thing on Bain's mind right now. It's an expensive exercise and Bain needs to get Virgin back to being profitable before anything else.

16 Aug 2017

Total posts 20

Encouraging news, hope there's more to come.

Will we be able to use FFC?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 236

I don't think last thing on Bains mind is making sure there a good stream of international feeder network - they have time to plan that though. 

Personally I don't see virgin joining an alliance I don't think they need too - they have their own bespoke unofficial alliance with current/future partners.. but given how many Star alliance airlines are partners with Virgin (i.e. Singapore ANA, Air Canada, South African) Star would be an easy fit? 

But alliances are bit of a gimmick now - you don't need to be part of the big 3 to enjoy benefits on partner airlines etc. And alliances don't know boundaries - look at Qantas and Air New Zealand.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 303

Problem is legacy issues with NZ (despite new management at both NZ and VA allowing for a 'fresh start') and UA (they want the DL partnership to end) if VA were to apply, which is unlikely anytime soon for the foreseeable future under Bain's ownership.

Qantas

01 Jun 2016

Total posts 32

I am one of them that missed the boat to move my points to Kris flyer. Atleast this is positive news where I can burn my points.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 427

Interesting FF partnership but some fellow readers should be made aware that AC is often mentioned in letters published weekly in Fairfax’s travellers magazine (online)

And no, they are rarely kudos

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Mar 2015

Total posts 89

The only downside is having to put up with Air Canada. AC international in J is passable, anything else bloody awful. 

But good on Virgin Australia for branching out. Can only help them.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Nov 2019

Total posts 72

im here for all of the airline CEO comments

Etihad - Etihad Guest

19 Mar 2018

Total posts 71

Actually, I beieve AirInsight or someone had already mentioned that Virgin Australia's goal is to be Star Alliance Connecting Partner member because of the opportunities, and because Qantas was going to absorb the SkyTeam/ oneworld airlines, and was positioning Jetstar to be the oneworld Connect and SkyTeam LCC friendly airline... the one that will feed Citilink, Shanghai Airlines, ZIPAIR, Jin Air, Alaska AIrlines, AirAsia etc


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