Virgin Australia and Gulf carrier Qatar Airways are officially joining forces from today, with the partnership unlocking a trove of perks including greater routes, reciprocal lounge access, and full points earn and burn, to name just a few.
A big win for travellers, the fresh pairing significantly expands the networks and loyalty programmes of both airlines, allowing frequent flyers to seamlessly broaden their horizons, jetting across Australia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East on a single ticket.
It also opens up more upgrades and reward seats. Virgin’s 10 million-plus Velocity members can now earn Velocity Points and Status Credits for flights operated by Qatar Airways, as well as use points to book flights across all Qatar Airways cabins, including first class and the superb Qsuites business class.
On top, members of Qatar Airways’ Privilege Club can now also earn Avios and QPoints on flights operated by Virgin Australia.
Flights are available to book now for travel from September 12.
Here are the essentials you need to know.
Virgin, Qatar codeshare
Travel is now easier thanks to a joint ‘codeshare’ pact extending across the full network of both airlines.
Qatar Airways flights to over 140 destinations worldwide will sprout a VA code, while the QR prefix will appear on all Virgin Australia flights – allowing passengers to journey all the way from London to Sydney (as an example) on Qatar Airways and then seamlessly connect to a Sydney-Cairns flight by Virgin Australia, all on one booking.
Virgin, Qatar ‘earn and burn’
Under the Virgin Australia / Qatar Airways partnership, frequent flyers can choose which ‘currency’ they earn when travelling on either airline – Velocity Points or Avios – according to which rewards program membership is entered against their booking.
The same applies to Virgin Australia’s Velocity status credits and Qatar Airways’ Privilege Club Qpoints.
Velocity members flying on a Qatar Airways operated flight with a VA flight number earn:
And on a Qatar Airways operated flight with a QR number, they receive:
The other side of the coin is Virgin Australia frequent flyers can use Velocity Points to book seats on Qatar Airways, while Qatar loyalists can turn their Avios into a Virgin Australia flight.
This includes award redemptions on Virgin Australia and Qatar Airways business class.
The exact number of points and status credit earned by Privilege Club members of Virgin Australia operated flights is yet to be revealed.
Redeeming Velocity points with Qatar Airways
Frequent flyers keen to step aboard Qatar Airways can now redeem Velocity points for flights in economy, business and first class across the Middle Eastern airlines’ full network.
Reward pricing is determined by zones/miles flown, based on the same Reward Points table used on Singapore Airlines and Etihad Airways flights. Simply search the route on Virgin’s Mileage Calculator to find the number of miles, which then correlates to the table.
As an example, a one-way flight from Sydney to Doha is 7,691 miles (12,305 kilometres). This equates to 8 zones in the current Reward Points table, with a minimum of 104,000 points required for a business class flight, and 152,500 for first class.
It’s worth noting the above is correct until October 4, 2022. After this, a new redemption table comes into play, with the number of miles from Sydney to Doha equating to 10 zones, although minimum points needed for business and first class remain unchanged.
Bonus Velocity Points on Qatar Airways flights
One of the appreciated perks of status is the ability to earn bonus points. That continues under the partnership, with Velocity Platinum, Gold and Silver members travelling on a Qatar Airways operated flight with a VA flight number, earning Points bonus on miles flown in addition to the Base Points earned.
Silver members earn 50% bonus Points; Gold members earn 75% bonus Points and Platinum members earn 100% bonus Points in addition to the Base Points earned.
Virgin, Qatar lounge access
Top-tier members of the Virgin Australia and Qatar Airways frequent flyer programs also enjoy access to the other airline’s lounges.
For Qatar Airways, Privilege Club Gold and Platinum members will be able to visit any Virgin Australia lounge (excluding the invite-only Beyond, of course) ahead of their domestic VA flight.
And if there’s a Velocity Gold, Platinum or Beyond card tucked into your travel wallet, that’s your pass into Qatar Airways’ premium lounges around the world.
However, at Qatar’s Doha hub, lounge access is restricted to the same lounges as frequent flyers of Qatar Airways and Oneworld partner airlines – with the branded First Class and Business Class lounges for Velocity Platinums and Golds, respectively – rather than the more salubrious Al Safwa First Lounge and Al Mourjan Business Lounge, which are the nominal home of Qatar Airways’ own first class and business class passengers.
As a bonus, the Virgin Australia / Qatar Airways partnership turbocharges elite membership of Qatar Airways’ Privilege Club, given Qatar’s Oneworld membership, with a Gold or Platinum card set to open the doors of both Qantas and Virgin Australia lounges.
Virgin, Qatar status benefits
While lounge access is generally the most appealing and obvious benefit of status, there are plenty of other perks which will also cascade down to Velocity and Privilege Club frequent flyers – such as priority check-in and boarding, a more generous luggage allowance and a bonus serve of Velocity Points or Avios.
It’ll be easy to determine which perks your status attracts, as the Virgin Australia Velocity and Qatar Airways Privilege Club tiers are neatly aligned:
- Velocity Silver = Privilege Club Silver
- Velocity Gold = Privilege Club Gold
- Velocity Platinum = Privilege Club Platinum
There’s certainly some irony in the fact that just two years ago, Qatar Airways targeted Virgin Australia for an instant status match into its Privilege Club loyalty scheme.
The wildly successful offer reportedly saw tens of thousands of Velocity Gold and Platinum members immediately minted as Privilege Club Golds and Platinums.
Virgin, Qatar and Qantas
So how does Qantas feel about all this? Executive Traveller understands the Flying Kangaroo has no plans to change how it treats Qatar Airways as a Oneworld partner, given that ‘side deals’ are a reality of the global airline industry.
But Qantas would certainly suggest Emirates trumps Qatar Airways when it comes to the size of their respective networks.
And it’s not the first time a Oneworld member has sided with Virgin: frequent flyers with long memories will recall Air Berlin was both a Oneworld member and Virgin partner before the bankrupt German challenger collapsed in 2017.
A new SME tool coming soon
In another surprising development, Virgin Australia and Qatar Airways will soon launch what they call “a market leading proposition for corporate and SME travellers”, one intended to offer “more choice and value” for business flyers travelling between Australia, the Middle East and Europe.
Additional reporting by David Flynn