Virgin Australia kicks off frequent flyer partnership with Italy's Alitalia

By Chris Chamberlin, June 10 2016
Virgin Australia kicks off frequent flyer partnership with Italy's Alitalia

UPDATE | Virgin Australia's Velocity Frequent Flyer members can now earn frequent flyer points and status credits when travelling with Alitalia, Italy's flag-carrying airline.

Velocity Gold and Platinum members also gain access to selected Alitalia airport lounges in New York and across Italy in Catania, Rome, Milan, Naples and Venice.

On the table too are priority boarding and check-in privileges for Gold and Platinum members, along with a boosted baggage allowance for Silver members and above of one additional bag.

The number of points earned on Alitalia (AZ) flights is as follows, with the most points earned on business class, premium economy and full-fare economy tickets, and the fewest points earned on discounted fares:

Travellers who book Virgin Australia codeshare flights with Alitalia on a VA flight number will earn points at the usual Virgin Australia rates, including bonuses for Silver, Gold and Platinum members not offered on direct Alitalia bookings:

Velocity members can also now use their points to book reward flights with Alitalia in business class, premium economy and economy over the phone, but not currently via the Virgin Australia website.

The number of points needed is generously the same as for Virgin Australia flights of the same distance, with Abu Dhabi-Rome setting you back 49,500 Velocity points in business class, one-way:

That makes Alitalia an attractive reward option in conjunction with a Virgin Australia flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi, avoiding the new fee levied on Etihad Airways reward bookings and the higher number of points needed for the same.

In return, all members of Alitalia's own MilleMiglia program can now earn and redeem miles on Virgin Australia flights, with all miles earned considered 'qualifying miles' for the purpose of earning or retaining your status level with Alitalia.

Freccia Alata Club, Freccia Alata Plus Club and Freccia Alata Plus Per Sempre MilleMiglia cardholders also gain access to Virgin Australia's own lounges when flying domestically within Australia from today.

PREVIOUS, April 11 2016 | Virgin Australia will add Italian flag-carrier Alitalia to its growing network of international partner airlines this week, less than a month after Alitalia’s tie-in with Qantas came to a close.

Kicking things off are Virgin Australia codeshares on Alitalia flights from Abu Dhabi to both Rome and Milan on sale from Friday April 15 2016 for travel from late July onwards, which are expected to allow Velocity Frequent Flyer members to earn both frequent flyer points and status credits as though they were flying on a Virgin Australia aircraft.

Also on the horizon: a broader frequent flyer pairing between the two airlines for points and perks – the details of which are yet to be announced but are tipped to be generous by industry standards.

“Like Virgin Australia, Alitalia has a commitment to superior customer service and a young fleet,” said Virgin Australia Chief Commercial Officer Judith Crompton.

“We will continue to work closely with other international carriers to give our customers access to more destinations, more flights and more convenient schedules, as well as increased benefits for Velocity members,” she added.

Virgin's ‘The Business’, Alitalia ‘Magnifica Class’

Virgin Australia’s fleet of long-haul Boeing 777-300ER aircraft is currently being refitted with the airline’s newest business class seats, dubbed ‘The Business’, which Australia’s east-west flyers may have already experienced to or from Perth.

AusBT review: Virgin Australia 'The Business', Sydney-Perth

During the refit, the airline’s Sydney-Abu Dhabi flights are on pause – a gap largely covered by partner Etihad Airways – with The Business expected to appear on Virgin Australia’s Abu Dhabi flights from “mid-year”.

From there, passengers will board either an Alitalia Airbus A330 or Boeing 777-200 to Italy, both of which offer business class travellers fully-flat beds with direct aisle access from every ‘Magnifica Class’ seat…

… in a layout that frequent jetsetters will recognise as the fully-flat Sogerma Solstys seat offered on Etihad’s own A330s and Boeing 777s, and found on many other airlines including Asiana, Hong Kong Airlines and Thai Airways in Australian skies.

Couples travelling together aren’t forgotten either with the centre pairs of seats in every second row allowing for easy conversation…

… but with a privacy divider that can be raised if you find yourself here on your lonesome.

If your budget doesn't stretch to business class, there are also three rows of ‘Classica Plus’ premium economy seats separating business class and economy on both Alitalia aircraft types...

... set in a 2-3-2 layout with 20% more legroom than regular economy and a 120-degree recline, noise-isolating headphones and amenity kits provided, a selection of Italian wines in the air and priority check-in privileges on the ground.

Virgin Australia + Alitalia flight schedules

In the first stage of the partnership, VA codeshares on Alitalia flights can only be bought in conjunction with Virgin Australia-operated flights to and from Abu Dhabi – that's with 'Virgin' painted on the tail, not Etihad flights booked with a VA flight number.

That means you won't be able to fly with Alitalia under a VA flight number until at least late July, when Virgin Australia resumes flying its own aircraft to Abu Dhabi.

Once that occurs, Rome-bound guests could jump on Virgin's VA29 service from Sydney to Abu Dhabi to touch down at 11:05pm, with Alitalia’s Rome flight wheels-up at 2:25am after a leisurely transit in the UAE.

To Milan, however, you'd experience a lengthy overnight transit until Alitalia's daily flight pushes back at 8:45am the following morning, but it's a better deal on the return with Alitalia's Milan-Abu Dhabi service getting you in at 6:15am ahead of Virgin Australia’s 10:45am VA30 flight to Sydney.

From Rome, you’ll reach Abu Dhabi at 7:10pm ahead of an overnight transit and a 10:45am Virgin Australia departure the next day.

Alternately, these overnight stays can be avoided by flying between Abu Dhabi and Italy on Etihad Airways, an existing partner of Virgin Australia which flies on the same routes but with a more connection-friendly schedule.

A previous version of this article stated that Virgin Australia guests could pair Etihad VA codeshare flights with Alitalia VA codeshare flights as part of a single journey to minimise connection times, but which Virgin Australia has clarified is not currently the case. Guests can only book Alitalia VA codeshare flights in conjunction with Virgin Australia-operated flights.

Also read: Qantas, Alitalia end frequent flyer partnership

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Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 Jun 2014

Total posts 224

Excellent!!!!

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 600

Partnership makes sense given the shared equity relationship with Etihad.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

17 Nov 2014

Total posts 96

Excellend. I think it makes sense to expand the partnership with Alitalita, but I hope they will also have a focus on Asia and include more partners in the Asia region, in particular Hong Kong Airlines, Garuda Indonesia will be good partners to start with to expand Virgin's presence and attractibility to Asian travellers which surpasses European travellers.

26 Jul 2015

Total posts 45

Damn, flew to early in September last year to get the points. Having said that, the Alitalia flights were great, really enjoyable flights, food and booze both very good.

kko
kko

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 5

Does VA fly to AUH from any other city than SYD in the east coast?

If you can only codeshare when flying on VA metal that makes it severly constrained for travellers based in MEL or BNE, which is disappointing.

I wonder if VA are planning on changing that at some point.

Virgin Australia has a 3x weekly Abu Dhabi flights from Sydney (when all aircraft are flying and not being refurbished), but not from other Australian cities.

The VA+Alitalia partnership looks to be coming together in stages – now only the codeshares have been confirmed but further details will follow, so we'd hope the connection rules are one of those further details that can be refined.

kko
kko

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 5

Ah yes, you're right. It makes more sense now, after re-reading it.

 

Beyond that, I'm keen to know if the partnership will extend beyond AZ flights to Rome and Milan. Alitalia has many destinations in Europe not covered by other VA partners so I hope eventually we'll get to book those via codeshare and get velocity and status points.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 60

I thought this was going to happen. I need to fly Rome to Milan in mid July and I knew Qantas had FF perks with them only up until last week. Makes sense given the partnership with Etihad. I might hold off on purchasing that flight hoping to see an announcement that velocity points can soon be redeemed on Alitalia flights. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

26 Feb 2016

Total posts 101

Sounds good but what VA really needs is a Chinese partner to expand its NE Asia network. Singapore is too far away from the major cities there like Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing and Shanghai. 

Romer says that a Chinese airlines is considering to take over AirNZ's share of VA, but objected by SQ. Hopefully the deal can be finally made.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

13 Dec 2014

Total posts 81

There's speculation China Southern, China Eastern and Air China have an interest in VA. The most likely bidder will be SQ though. Imagine if one of the Chinese airlines bought a stake. It would not impress QF now they're starting their foray into the Chinese market. Anyhow the Alitalia-Virgin Australia tie up was expected by most. Next move award and status miles/points. As for the rest of Europe VA is already hooked up with airberlin, another Etihad partner. The gaps are closing and all the better for us.

Cheers

I wouldn't be surprised if a South American airline wanted to hook up with Virgin Australia, perhaps Avianca might want a code share between Brisbane/Sydney and Medellin/Bogota. Colombia is a growing tourisim destination now that it is shaking off it's bad reputation of 15 years ago.

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 118

Alitalia has a lot to do to build a decent reputation for those of us who know it for the MD equipment, lengthy delays / random cancellations, and mediocre service.

It's the one airline I expect stuff to go wrong with and know that they'll be incompetent in rectifying any issues.

None the less dipping my toe back in there with a LCY - FCO flight in August, lets see what the new owners have done.

13 May 2016

Total posts 2

Are there any updates on earning Velocity points with Alitalia. The Velocity web site still doesn't list them as a partner.

I am interested in if the EY codeshare on the FCO-AUH Alitalia sector will earn anything. As the EY metal flight doesn't connect to the Brisbane flight.

Or will this partnership be of only any use to those that live in Sydney as you have to have the VA metal somewhere on your itinerary.

There are no further updates at this stage – as always, when we have news to share, we'll share it. :)

24 Feb 2012

Total posts 46

Good news. So lounge access only at Alitalia branded lounges? I'm flying Alitalia from LHR to FCO later in the year. Does this mean I won't have lounge access at LHR? I'm VA platinum. Luckily I took up the Alitalia status match but would prefer to earn points/status on my VA account it possible. 

Lounge access only to selected Alitalia lounges in the cities listed above. No access elsewhere, or indeed to some of the lounges in those listed cities where Alitalia has multiples – the exact lounges and locations will be published on the Virgin Australia website shortly, we're told.

24 Feb 2012

Total posts 46

Thanks Chris :-)

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

25 Jul 2013

Total posts 52

Hi Chris, is there any follow up on the Alitalia lounge access for Velocity Gold/Plat travellers? The Virgin Aus website does not currently list any lounges at all for Alitalia...
Lounge arrangements are listed here: https://www.virginaustralia.com/au/en/experience/at-the-airport/international-lounge-access/

Just click Velocity Gold/Platinum and browse to Alitalia.

13 May 2016

Total posts 2

The update is great news. Any idea if an EY codeshare on the AZ metal will be able to earn points and status credits?

Virgin Australia's Velocity earning pages show this not to be the case – must be operated by Etihad or Virgin Australia if on an EY flight number.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 714

Any other status benefits like baggage, priority boarding or check-in?

These are all mentioned in the article if you're asking about Velocity.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards Gold

04 Jul 2014

Total posts 132

I'd like to know if AZ status members receive priority boarding etc on VA flights.

Can't find that info anywhere

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Nov 2012

Total posts 43

So could I use my Alitalia Gold to access the VA lounges even if I'm using my VA FF number on my ticket?

KL
KL

08 Jan 2013

Total posts 5

First fail, flying Naples to Rome, initially denied any tie in, when I showed them this article it became " it has to be an international flight"

Hope it gets sorted out, I find Qantas are still ahead on international travel


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