Virgin Australia will partner with Germany's airberlin from next month, with a limited number of codeshare flights but reciprocal frequent flyer perks across the board.
Beginning August 1st and on sale from today, Virgin Australia will codeshare on airberlin’s daily direct services from Abu Dhabi – which is the home hub of Virgin partner Etihad – to Dusseldorf and Berlin.
(In return airberlin, which is Germany’s second largest airline, will codeshare on Virgin Australia’s Abu Dhabi to Sydney service, its Phuket to Perth service and nine of Virgin's domestic services within Australia, and earn AB 'topbonus' miles on Virgin Australian flights.)
Velocity points & perks for airberlin flights
Members of Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer program will be able to earn and redeem points on all airberlin flights, not just codeshares.
Just be mindful of your ticket class or 'fare bucket' if travelling in economy, as this could see your Velocity earning rate drop from 1 point per mile to a mere 0.25 points per mile.
However, you'll earn Velocity status credits only on codeshare services marketed with a VA flight number.
Virgin Australia says that waving your Velocity Platinum or Gold card will get you into the airberlin's lounge at Dusseldorf as well as the airline's "exclusive waiting areas" at Berlin-Tegel, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Hamburg and Munich airports (click here for specific locations).
These are more like a handy 'express lounge' than a full-blown business class lounge, but it's still better than scrumming with the hoi polloi.
Behind Virgin's airberlin alliance
The airberlin partnership grows Virgin's virtual network into Europe and is a fitting match for both airlines.
Not only is airberlin to the Lufthansa juggernaut as Virgin Australia is to Qantas, but Etihad is a common stakeholder in both airlines.
Etihad holds a 29% slice of airberlin and 10% in Virgin Australia, with approval from Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board to increase its VA stake to 19.9%.
In addition, Etihad owns 70% of airberlin's topbonus loyalty scheme, which was spun off into a separate company in late 2012.
Ironically, airberlin is also member of the oneworld alliance, which makes it a partner of Qantas.
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