Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer members can now book Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines and Beijing Capital Airlines flights using their Velocity points.
Among routes further afield, that opens the door to booking Hainan Airlines’ flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Changsha and Xi’an using Velocity points, along with flights from Brisbane and Cairns to Shenzhen.
Also now open for points-based bookings are Beijing Capital Airlines’ flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Qingdao and from Melbourne to Shenyang; and Hong Kong Airlines’ routes from the Gold Coast and Cairns to Hong Kong.
How many Velocity points do you need?
The distance of each flight determines the number of Velocity points required to book it, with these airlines falling under Velocity Frequent Flyer’s ‘Table 2’ rates: the same as when using points to secure flights with partners such as Etihad Airways, Singapore Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines.
As most of these Chinese routes are similar in length, all non-stop flights with Hainan Airlines and Beijing Capital Airlines from Sydney and Melbourne command 78,000 Velocity points for a one-way business class ticket, and 42,000 Velocity points for a one-way economy flight.
Further north in Queensland, flights from Brisbane and the Gold Coast require a lower 65,000 Velocity points in business class and 35,000 Velocity points in economy, one-way, while Cairns residents will part with 53,000 Velocity points for business class or 28,000 Velocity points for economy to either Hong Kong or Shenzhen.
How to book your Hainan, Hong Kong Airlines or Beijing Capital Airlines flight
Online reward bookings for these airlines aren’t yet possible via the Velocity Frequent Flyer website, so you’ll need to call 13 18 75 between 7:30am and 10:30pm (Sydney time), seven days a week, to secure your ticket.
Australian Business Traveller understands that Virgin Australia plans to enable online bookings for these airlines at a later date, but if the flight you want to book is with Hainan Airlines, there’s a way you can check whether you can use your frequent flyer points before making that call.
(This trick unfortunately doesn’t work with Hong Kong Airlines or Beijing Capital Airlines: only Hainan Airlines.)
Enter subscription-based website ExpertFlyer, which can search for Hainan Airlines reward availability on any flight and date of your choosing.
Existing ExpertFlyer users can get things started by logging in to their account and heading to the ‘Awards & Upgrades’ tab. New users can instead sign-up for a no-obligation five-day trial, or could take out a paid membership from US$5/month (A$6.20) for access to the same search tools.
Select ‘Hainan Airlines - HU’ from the list on that Awards & Upgrades page, enter where you’d like to fly from and fly to, and your preferred travel dates. Complete the ‘return date’ box for a round-trip search, or leave it empty if flying one-way.
For example, we’re going to search for a reward flight on Hainan Airlines’ new Brisbane-Shenzhen route which commenced earlier this month, for travel in business class or economy in mid-October. We’re also going to select ‘+/- 3 days’ next to the ‘date’ box to get results over an entire week:
After clicking ‘search’, the next page reveals that on October 16 2017, the airline’s Brisbane-Shenzhen flight has four business class reward seats and eight economy class reward seats available, which travellers can book using their Velocity points:
If no reward seats were available on that flight, a zero would appear next to the appropriate cabin class, rather than a positive number, which indicates how many of those particular reward seats are open for booking.
This helps to make planning easier when travelling as a group, as you can research flights that have points-based seats available and get everybody’s final approval, before then calling Velocity to secure your reservation.
Extra reciprocal frequent flyer benefits
From today, Fortune Wings Club frequent flyer members can also use their miles to book Virgin Australia flights, although Velocity points cannot yet be used to book flights with Tianjin Airlines: Virgin’s other new Chinese partner airline.
A future phase of the partnership will also introduce reciprocal frequent flyer perks such as airport lounge access and priority check-in for Velocity Gold and Platinum members, as these benefits are not yet available to Velocity members flying with these carriers.
To celebrate this phase of the tie-up, Velocity Frequent Flyer is offering members double points on all direct international flights operated by Virgin Australia, Hainan Airlines, Beijing Capital Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines between Australia/New Zealand and China/Hong Kong, when flying on a paid, points-earning fare between September 25 and December 15 2017.
(As reward flights don’t earn frequent flyer points, this promotion only helps those who purchase their flight with money, rather than Velocity points.)
Fortune Wings Club members can also pick up double points on Virgin Australia’s Melbourne-Hong Kong flights, all Virgin Australia-operated trans-Tasman flights and ‘selected’ Virgin Australia domestic flights during the same dates.