Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic eye seamless Australia-London travel

Get ready to fly around the world with Virgin, using Hong Kong, London and LAX as your stopovers.

By Brandon Loo, September 16 2019

Virgin Australia has received a tentative green light to work more closely with its British counterpart Virgin Atlantic on flights between Australia and London, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission saying it is prepared to allow the partnership for a five year period.

The draft determination would allow Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic "to more closely cooperate on services between Australia and the UK/Ireland via mutual mid-points in Hong Kong, Los Angeles and any other future mutual connection point", the ACCC said in a statement.

The ACCC described the airlines as "separate businesses that do not operate overlapping services on any routes and are unlikely to do so in the future."

This would not only be unlikely to"result in any significant detriment to competition on existing or future routes between Australia and the UK/Ireland," but "allowing the two carriers to more closely cooperate is likely to result in public benefits – in particular, an enhanced product and service offering including better scheduling and greater loyalty program benefits."

Virgin Australia has described the alliance as offering "a unique Virgin experience" for travellers on the popular Australia-London route.

An airline spokesperson previously told Executive Traveller that under the deeper partnership, passengers should expect "more competitive pricing on flights between Australia and the UK/Ireland via Hong Kong or LA and enhanced reciprocal frequent flyer arrangements, amongst other benefits."

How this will play out for business travellers

From a local perspective, the tie-up would see Virgin Australia passengers encouraged to join Virgin Atlantic's London-bound flights at either Los Angeles or Hong Kong – and could eventually lead to 'around the world with Virgin' bookings.

The two airlines already operate a codeshare agreement which plants their respective VA and VS codes onto each other's Hong Kong and Los Angeles flights, along with an reciprocal frequent flyer arrangement.

However, the deeper partnership will allow the airlines to work more closely together on joint pricing, scheduling and marketing, as well as 'product alignment' and joint pitching for corporate contracts.

Both airlines will aim for 'a seamless customer experience' by standardising baggage entitlements, meals and seat selections across the board, and co-locate check-in, baggage collection and lounge services where possible – especially in Hong Kong, where Virgin Australia is exploring whether it can use the same lounge as Virgin Atlantic in the main terminal (which is currently the Plaza Premium First Lounge).

Booking Virgin Atlantic flights with Velocity Points online would also be made possible under the new arrangement – a major improvement under the current system where Velocity members are required to phone up to check for reward seat availability on a flight-by-flight basis.

Also read: How to book Virgin Atlantic flights with Velocity Points

Virgin Australia is toying with the idea of implementing a unique 'reciprocal points upgrade proposition', where travellers with healthy Velocity Points balances can also elect to upgrade their Virgin Atlantic legs to Upper Class, which is currently being refitted across the fleet.

Virgin Atlantic has previously flown from London to Sydney via Hong Kong but pulled the plug on that route in 2014.

Current codeshare agreements mean passengers can book a journey from Australia to Hong Kong with Virgin Australia and onwards to Europe with Virgin Atlantic on the one booking, but the flight timings and different lounge access policies make it a particularly uninviting option for time-strapped business travellers.

Additional reporting by David Flynn

Brandon Loo

Brandon divides his time between Perth and Launceston, with ample hours spent in airport lounges in between. He recently picked up photography and tries to capture the beauty of Tasmanian landscapes, aeroplane cabins and in-flight food, to varying degrees of success.

dylanmalloch

dylanmalloch

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

16 Jul 2018

Total posts 4

This would be outstanding

azsha

azsha

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

05 Jul 2019

Total posts 1

Definitely exciting prospects. Very interested to see a true round the world virgin fare.

bagpuss

bagpuss

18 Jan 2017

Total posts 22

They have been available for years. Though I believe they are currently ticketed by VS 

djtech

djtech

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 88

They have been available on paid fares as a package. I remembered flight center doing a deal $999 for Virgin round the world to Hong Kong and London or LA and London.

whipper

whipper

17 Feb 2012

Total posts 121

Have already done an around the world on a Virgin Aus/Atlantic ticket (albeit a VS one). What Virgin Australia should be focusing on is improving their website + App, both are throwbacks from another era and are terrible. Literally takes weeks for points to be deposited and a number of the website pages never seem to load and the App constantly logs you out...

sunnybrae

sunnybrae

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 6

This VA/VS tie-up is a good development, but I fully agree that VA should fix its website. Remember years back when VA points were credited after just one day? Then it spread out to two, three, four days........... Sometimes weeks. And in my case, even five months (happened twice). If anyone from VA is reading this, we like your new initiatives; but try to fix old problems too.

AT

AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 254

You've got to wonder why this joint VA/VS initiative hasn't been lobbied hard since VirginBlue became VA. It just makes complete sense to align the brands.

djtech

djtech

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 88

Because Qantas has a partnership with Emirates especially on the London routes?

DanV

DanV

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 114

Another nail in the coffin for the VA/EY JV, or even VA/HX (HNA) due to their financial problems.

I'll be tipping SRB asked DL (as half-owners/managers of VS and long time USA partner of VA) to get a closer relationship between VA/VS.

DL could've declined SRB's request (as SRB is only a minority owner in VS/VA) but chose not to. Still putting DL in discussion for either one of the EY/HNA/SQ stakes in VA.

Whatever DL instructs VS to do, VS follows.

S

S

13 Sep 2013

Total posts 105

Do you guys have any more information on the potential to upgrade VS flights with Velocity Points?
That would be a fabulous perk if it was implemented!

Brandon Loo

Brandon Loo

10 Jul 2018

Total posts 76

Sorry, all we know at this stage is they are looking to implement this only for the Australia-London route, on a reciprocal basis.

stmaus

stmaus

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Nov 2017

Total posts 103

This will make the route to LHR via HKG absolutely outstanding (particularly with the VS lounge in LHR) and will also hopefully secure financial viability for VA's HKG flights. Looking forward to flying this route.

FrequentFlyer

FrequentFlyer

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 209

If Hong Kong Airlines goes belly up, this may be a saving grace for VA's HK routes.

Wonder if this could see the HK Clubhouse Lounge make sense economically for VS again.

Would love to see VA utilise the Clubhouse Lounge in both Hkg and LAX (once they move over the Delta terminals).

stmaus

stmaus

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Nov 2017

Total posts 103

Haven't been in there myself, but the lounge VS uses in HKG, the Plaza Premium First lounge, is meant to be excellent. So no need to fix what is currently not broken.

FrequentFlyer

FrequentFlyer

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 209

I've used the PP First Lounge a couple of times now before the VS leg. It's great but I still prefer the Clubhouse Lounge that closed a year or two ago. Might make better sense again if shared with VA.

moreardon

moreardon

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

02 Jan 2016

Total posts 4

WOW! EXCELLENT NEWS. Oh how I miss the Virgin Atlantic flights LHR to SYD. Shame they never offered "bar stool class" though, that is all I really need. Was on the last HKG SYD flight, what fun! The points required by both VA & VS though to book through flights are far more than SQ FC currently though as points calculated each leg so would hope for the BC points SYD to LHR & bookable online VS I'll be back instantly.

moreardon

moreardon

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

02 Jan 2016

Total posts 4

ALSO didn't realise Clubhouse had gone, wonderful retreat at busy HKG with Virgin Redheads comfortable lounges & great staff, hope they bring that back how ever good PP lounge may be.

Boeing-Tragic

Boeing-Tragic

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 33

I did MEL-LAX-LHR and then LHR-HKG-MEL last October, VS Upper Class was GR8, but lounge access in LAX and HKG was a profound disappointment (compared to MEL and LHR). A good way to rack up Status Credits, but not sure if I'd come back via HKG next time (and not just because there's no bar on the flight from HKG to MEL).

Saab34

Saab34

08 Sep 2018

Total posts 14

Fix the layover and with all the claimed bells and whistles they will get my business.

Virgin Econ X to HKG then PE to LHR would be a good value opportunity.

Need BNE-HKG up and running

declanr

declanr

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

26 Nov 2017

Total posts 14

This is potentially great news. Would be a great win for VA mind you about time they had some good news! For those of us loyal to VA, at least domestically, the benefits of a seamless route through to London with all bells and whistles can only be positive. I just hope it actually happens. And bearing in mind VA's issues on potential alliance networks due to certain airlines and politics, I wonder why this has taken so long to come to fruition. This does have great potential.

David H

David H

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

15 Mar 2019

Total posts 3

Potentially very good news although Virgin Atlantic may need to revisit their product. We've found the herringbone configuration in Upper Class to be narrow and uncomfortable particularly when comparing with Emirates' A380 offering. Price will be a consideration as well and I wonder if Virgin Atlantic might reinstate their complimentary chauffeur service in the UK. However their "Wing" at Heathrow is excellent as was the Lounge. Will also need to co-ordinate flight times at Hong Kong.

Nobleoz

Nobleoz

05 Apr 2012

Total posts 6

I recently flew MEL-HKG-LHR-LAX-MEL. It was wonderful - EXCEPT have to wait 3 hours before I could enter the Plaza Premium Lounge in HKG (because entry was not until 8 pm). Is it too hard for Virgin to leave 2 hours later from MEL?

Cloud Surfer

Cloud Surfer

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 Jun 2019

Total posts 1

This is fantastic news! The last two years I have also flown the SYD-HKG-LAX (via JFK both times) route for great prices, albeit through Flight Centre. Fantastic products in my opinion, though the six hour layover between landing

In HKG to departing is a bit annoying.


I’m surprised this move hasn’t been made earlier though. I actually spoke with the Velocity Frequen Flyer team a few weeks ago to voice my disdain over having to email a photograph of my VS boarding pass to claim points when they haven’t been attributed to my account. Yes, that may seem precious, however in this day and age it should all be confirmed through their systems. I mean I don’t know how many keep their boarding passes after their flights. Also, they are the same brand, surely their systems could line up much better. Hopefully this news brings a much more seamless experience as advertised!

Jgrae

Jgrae

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

04 Sep 2018

Total posts 3

In the past year, I have already flown 'around the world with Virgin'.. Twice.. Booked as 'around the world ' from my travel agent.


Once was clockwise, the other anti clockwise.. VA for two legs and VS or two legs. I travel twice a year for work and these are in business class so it was a pure joy, as a platinum velocity member, to fly virgin all around in style.

I am so glad that they will now aim to get rid of the 7 hour layover in HKG. I HOPE there is enough business to open a joint virgin lounge in HKG as my favourite lounge is the VS LHR lounge.. And that re-opening in HKG would be nice.

Bring it on is all I can say and I can't wait for VS to rebrand it's UK regional fleet so I can fly exclusively Virgin in Europe.

Now all we need is Delta to buy out a few shareholders of VA, introduce Skyteam alliance to the menu and then I'll be a very happy man

Zac

Zac

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 May 2014

Total posts 129

I would love to be able to fly Virgin (seamlessly) all the way to London and have the flexibility of LAX or HKG stopovers and flying East or West in either direction. Especially as the Virgin Clubhouse in London is so good.


Truie

Truie

26 Jul 2015

Total posts 43

Just looked at ticket prices, wow, expensive by comparison.

FrequentFlyer

FrequentFlyer

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 209

The new structure hasn’t been deployed yet. Still some of the cheapest options when I look though- not sure what you were searching?

rencontre

rencontre

27 Aug 2015

Total posts 28

Great news and hopefully beneficial for both carriers and their passengers

lind26

lind26

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 269

Should have happened at least 10 years ago

AJW

AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 507

"Virgin Australia has received a tentative green light to work more closely with its British counterpart Virgin Atlantic"

This is one of my annoyances, the use of the word counterpart seems to infer that there is some significant connection between the two airlines. Many seem to think that Virgin Australia is a subsidiary of Virgin Atlantic, when in reality that is not the case and the only two things they share is the name Virgin and both have Virgin Group (read Richard Branson) as minor shareholdings, 20% in Virgin Atlantic and 10% in Virgin Australia.

That aside in someways good they can become partners there are of course some advantages to be gained by having people think they are one in the same airline. The only danger would be to somehow match product so that it is similar.

Gold4Life

Gold4Life

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 12

Counterpart: "a person or thing that corresponds to or has the same function as another person or thing in a different place or situation" (Google), "a person or thing closely resembling another, especially in function" (dictionary.com). Counterpart doesn't "infer some significant connection" at all.

AJW

AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 507

That is the literal meaning, in which case the use of the word is totally irrelevant as Qantas or any other airline for example could be considered a counterpart. However when read in the context of the article I standby my interpretation that it was inferring a more significant connection.

readosunnycoast

readosunnycoast

05 Oct 2011

Total posts 179

Nine hour layover SYD>>HKG>>LHR Could scarcely be worse that it is right now


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