Virgin Australia expands frequent flyer perks on Hainan, HK Airlines

By Chris C., June 4 2018
Virgin Australia expands frequent flyer perks on Hainan, HK Airlines

Virgin Australia's Velocity Gold and Platinum frequent flyers will finally gain access to airport lounges when travelling on some Hong Kong Airlines and Hainan Airlines flights from next month, as the airlines expand their existing partnership from July 2 2018.

However, in most cases, including on flights between Australia/New Zealand and Greater China, Velocity Gold and Platinum members will still largely be without airport lounge access.

On the brighter side, benefits like priority check-in, priority boarding and extra checked baggage are more widely available and will be offered on Beijing Capital Airlines and Tianjin Airlines too, as Virgin Australia also expands its codeshare network to cover more destinations in Greater China.

There's benefit for members of Fortune Wings Club travelling with Virgin Australia as well: but as the partnership between Virgin and the HNA Group covers five distinct airlines, here's how it all works on an airline-by-airline basis, when all these new perks kick in from July 2nd.

Velocity Frequent Flyer + Hainan Airlines

Virgin Australia will begin by codesharing on Hainan Airlines' flights from Sydney to Xi'an, Changsha and Haikou; from Melbourne to Xi'an and Changsha; from Brisbane to Shenzhen and from Cairns to Shenzhen, which travellers will be able to book on a VA flight number.

This will allow Velocity members to earn Velocity points and status credits at the same rates as though they were sitting aboard a Virgin Australia flight – although Velocity's existing agreement with Hainan Airlines also allows this when booked on an HU flight number, so it won't be a case of 'missing out' if you book the alternative flight number, unless you book a fare that doesn't earn points.

Whether you book these flights under the HU or VA flight numbers, Velocity Silver, Gold and Platinum members will be eligible for priority check-in, and can bring an additional checked bag of up to 32kg in business class or 23kg in economy class.

These benefits apply on all flights between and within Australia, New Zealand and Greater China, with Velocity Gold and Platinum members also gaining priority boarding, and access to Hainan Airlines' domestic lounges only, in Beijing (T1 only), Xi'an, Guangzhou, Urumqi, Taiyuan and Haikou when travelling on flights operated by Hainan Airlines.

Lounge access when flying Hainan Airlines internationally, including on flights to and from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns, remains unavailable to Velocity Gold and Platinum members, however.

Velocity Frequent Flyer + Hong Kong Airlines

On all Hong Kong Airlines flights – except those between Hong Kong and North America – benefits for Velocity Silver members will include priority check-in and an additional checked bag of 32kg in business class or 23kg in economy class.

Velocity Gold and Platinum cardholders receive priority boarding in addition to those perks, plus access to Hong Kong Airlines' lounges in Hong Kong, such as the airline's modern Club Autus Lounge.

AusBT review: Hong Kong Airlines' Club Autus Lounge, Hong Kong

That's great when you're flying from Hong Kong, but when you're flying from anywhere else to Hong Kong, there's still no lounge access for Velocity Gold and Platinum members.

This includes Hong Kong Airlines' flights from the Gold Coast – at least, until these flights cease on October 28 2018 – where even business class passengers don't get lounge access, despite Virgin Australia operating a lounge at the same airport terminal.

Velocity Frequent Flyer + Beijing Capital Airlines, Tianjin Airlines

Virgin's upgraded partnership with Beijing Capital Airlines and Tianjin Airlines covers flights between Australia, New Zealand and Greater China only, on which Velocity Silver, Gold and Platinum cardholders gain priority check-in and an extra checked bag of 32kg in business class or 23kg in economy class.

As expected, Velocity Gold and Platinum members will also be entitled to priority boarding, but lounge access for Velocity members flying with these two carriers will not be available.

Fortune Wings Club + Virgin Australia

Members of the Fortune Wings Club program – HNA Group's frequent flyer scheme covering the foreign airlines above – will gain some limited lounge access benefits when travelling with Virgin Australia.

This includes access to all Virgin Australia domestic lounges prior to Virgin Australia domestic flights for Fortune Wings Club Platinum and Gold members, along with access to international lounges when flying with Virgin Australia between Sydney or Melbourne and Hong Kong.

Across all these partner airlines, the new benefits for Velocity and Fortune Wings Club members are available to travellers from July 2 2018, with Virgin Australia's expanded codeshare flight network with Hainan Airlines going on sale from June 21 2018 for travel from July 2nd, also.

Virgin Australia first partnered with these HNA Group airlines in July 2017, allowing members to earn Velocity points and status credits when flying with all four carriers.

In September of the same year, the partnership expanded to permit Velocity members to book Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines and Beijing Capital Airlines flights using Velocity points – although not flights with Tianjin Airlines, which remain unavailable to Velocity members.

Further improvements this year saw Velocity Frequent Flyer add points-based bookings with Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines to the Velocity website, avoiding the need for members to call to book a reward flight, although Beijing Capital Airlines reward flights still require a phone call.

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

06 Jun 2017

Total posts 49

The addition of lounge access at HKG when transferring to a HX flight is great, would love if we got lounge access at other airport too.

Also keen to see if lounge access is added for Hainan flights in Australia.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2476

We've just updated the story re: Hong Kong Airlines and Hainan Airlines lounge access. Velocity Gold and Platinum members will not have lounge access when travelling with these airlines unless the same airline operates a lounge at the same airport.

This means you'll only get lounge access when flying Hong Kong Airlines at HKG Airport itself, not when flying from anywhere else to Hong Kong.

For Hainan, access is only to the domestic lounges listed in our story - no lounge access when travelling internationally, including on flights to and from Australia.

A bit disappointing, really, given Velocity members have been waiting for this for almost a year now.

06 Jun 2017

Total posts 49

That's unfortunate but expected.

The only partnership VA has done 'properly' when it comes to lounge access is with Etihad. I believe Etihad are the only airline that give VA Gold/Platinum members lounge access no matter what airport you're at, they treat you just as well as one of their own.

Wish VA would look into joining SkyTeam, VA really are subpar when it comes to International partners.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2476

VA's partnership with Delta is exceptional, as Velocity members generally get better Delta Sky Club access than Delta's own elites on Delta flights (given Delta and SkyTeam don't give lounge access on domestic-only flights, but this rule isn't applied to Velocity Gold and Platinum), with the added benefit of access to the SkyTeam Lounge in Sydney when flying Delta, too.

But yes, beyond Delta and Etihad, Virgin Australia's other partnerships generally provide lounge access only where the operating carrier has a lounge of its own, which is great in hubs but less-advantageous in destinations further afield.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

26 Feb 2016

Total posts 97

It doesn't worry me too much since the "public lounges" at major Chinese airports don't have too much to expect. The only thing I care is the onward lounge at hkg since the hkg airport isn't transit friendly and the gap is usually more than 3 hours because then relatively infrequently flights operated by HX.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jun 2011

Total posts 148

When you thought VA lounge access couldn't get any more confusing... VA realise they don't need to make it as complicated as they right...

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

28 Feb 2017

Total posts 14

Here we go again...VA trumpets partnering with other airlines but yet again without lounge access. It fumbled the LAX lounge issue, finally sorted it out with pax from differing flights going to different lounges. Now none (soon) in NZ & basically none in HK. Fortune Wings Club members gain access here in OZ but the faithful Velocity member lose out again. Yes, Delta is great, if flying with them in the States, also Etihad, but that's it. They (VA) seem simply all at sea, aimlessly floating around with no real direction.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

14 Mar 2017

Total posts 152

This is completely bonkers.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 May 2018

Total posts 1

There is lots to be said about Qantas, even though the lounges are so crowded now!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

26 Feb 2016

Total posts 97

This brings a huge player into the market, esp to the local passengers who don't have a Chinese background. Glad to know.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jan 2015

Total posts 71

What. A. Mess. Maybe they should print out monthly cards, like AirNZ used to do with their lounge WiFi passwords:

Airline A flying to B: International lounge
Airline C flying to D: Domestic lounge
Airline E flying to F: Food court
Airline G flying to H: Arrive just before boarding.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 363

At least they’re consistent at being incon

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 363

*inconsistent. Whoops

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 319

Things like this is why VA should really look at joining SkyTeam to end crap like this. SQ is going to have to live with it if they don't want to sell their VA stake, as VA is "Persona Non Grata" to the Star Alliance thanks to NZ and UA.

Alternatively, DL buying either the HNA or EY stakes followed by a takeover bid 6 months later (and removing the current management afterwards).

It may mean "Delta Air Lines Australia" like how Virgin Atlantic is "Delta Air Lines UK", but it's another view.


Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Jan 2017

Total posts 65

So before your next international Virgin flight you should employ a research assistant to find out what lounge access you might have. Brings trip planning to a new level of complexity.

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