Virgin/AirNZ trans-Tasman alliance: fares and ticket types

By John Walton, December 7 2011
Virgin/AirNZ trans-Tasman alliance: fares and ticket types

Heading across the Tasman with Air New Zealand or Pacific Blue, Virgin Australia's NZ subsidary? All this week Australian Business Traveller is bringing you analysis — plus lounge & flight reviews — of the Trans-Tasman Alliance between the two airlines.

For a quick recap on the Virgin/AirNZ trans-Tasman alliance, our introductory primer guide has got you covered. You can also check out tips on how to pick the seats with extra legroom.

Today will be just a little more technical as we demystify the options you have when picking your fare.

With eight different types of fares, and the added complication that Air NZ tickets are only flexible if you stump up an extra couple of hundred dollars each way to add Flexi to your ticket, it's important to know what you're getting.

Remember, you only get to pick seats if you book with the airline doing the actual flying

Booking via Air New Zealand

  • Seat: seat, 7kg carry-on, tea, coffee, water, TV, music and games
  • Seat+Bag: as Seat, plus a 23kg checked bag
  • The Works: as Seat+Bag, plus seat request, movies, an economy meal and drinks
  • Works Deluxe: as Works, plus premium checkin, a total of 2 23kg bags, lounge access, extra legroom, front seats, newspaper, bottle of water, noise-cancelling headphones, cheese plate, pillow & blanket
  • Business Class: on larger Boeing 747, 767 and 777 planes only
  • add flexibility: if you want a flexible fare, you'll have to pay extra even on top of the most expensive tickets when selecting your flight. How much extra? It varies, but on a recent test booking from Wellington to Melbourne for a date in late January (over a month away), a Works Deluxe ticket was NZ$534 without flexibility or NZ$750 with flexibility. You'll then have to pay an extra NZ$30 rebooking fee if you ring up to change your flight -- and there's no stated way to do that online. Plus, there's a NZ$100 penalty for cancelling your flight between 13 December and 14 January.

Booking via Virgin Australia

  • Saver: seat, 7kg carry-on, option to buy 23kg checked bag, tea, coffee, water
  • Flexi: as Saver, plus digEplayer entertainment system, meal & drinks, priority check-in, flexible ticket
  • Premium: as Saver, plus: blocked off middle seat, premium check-in, up to 69kg of checked bags, lounge access, extra legroom, front seats, newspaper, bottle of water, premium earphones, free choice of onboard food, "dream kit" blanket & eyeshades.

For flexibility, Virgin edges ahead in the booking considerations because theres no fee to change, although you will pay for cancellations. You'll pay a $100 cancellation fee online, or over the phone it's a $120 cancellation fee or a $140 refund fee (those prices are in Australian or NZ dollars).

Premium Economy and Works Deluxe

Works Deluxe and Premium fares are only sold on their respective airline's flights -- Virgin won't sell you Premium on Air NZ metal, and Air NZ won't sell you Works Deluxe on a Pacific Blue plane, because those offerings don't exist on the other airline.

Want Pacific Blue's Premium Economy seats? You'll need to book through their website, not Air NZ's.
Want Pacific Blue's Premium Economy seats? You'll need to book through their website, not Air NZ's.

So if you're in the market for Works Deluxe or Premium Economy, you'll want to book direct with the airline that's doing the flying. Only eight Works Deluxe seats or twelve (usually just eight) Premium Economy seats are sold on each Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 flight, with more available on larger Air New Zealand planes.

Speaking of those larger planes, they're also the only place you'll find proper business class across the Tasman on the trans-Tasman alliance. And Air New Zealand's business class is only sold by Air NZ -- you can't book it through Virgin Australia. For more on finding routes where Air New Zealand has proper business class, check out our article on how to get decent business class seats on Air New Zealand flights.

AusBT's in-depth coverage of trans-Tasman flights continues:

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

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