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Air NZ & Virgin Australia: baggage allowances to New Zealand

By John Walton     Filed under: New Zealand, Air New Zealand, Trans-Tasman, Pacific Blue, Virgin Australia, Velocity Rewards gold benefits, Velocity Rewards Platinum benefits, Velocity Frequent Flyer

If you're travelling across the Tasman with Virgin Australia or Air New Zealand, you'll want to know how much luggage you can take. 

The luggage issue is probably the most inconsistent part of the two airlines' trans-Tasman alliance.  A Virgin Australia spokesperson told us: "In terms of frequent flyer baggage allowances, the principle remains that Velocity Frequent Flyer and Airpoints Members are entitled to the baggage allowance as per their membership level, regardless of the airline operating their flight."

The one caveat, the spokesperson added was "the condition that they book their flight on the airline code of their frequent flyer program."

Australian Business Traveller is still getting regular reports of Silver, Gold and Platinum Velocity flyer cardholders who are told by Virgin Australia staff that they get extra luggage allowance, and are then told in no uncertain terms by Air New Zealand staff that this isn't the case, and that they need to stump up the baggage fees.

We've updated our guide to reflect Virgin Australia's new luggage rules introduced on 16 May. Things have actually got less complicated across the Tasman than they used to be, but it's definitely worth arming yourself with the facts of what your baggage allowances are to avoid being caught out at the check-in counter or even the boarding gate.

Standard luggage allowances

If you're not a Silver, Gold or Platinum member with Virgin Australia's Velocity Frequent Flyer programme, you don't get additional luggage allowances.

So you'll get what it says on the ticket, according to your fare. On Virgin Australia:

  • Saver: 7kg hand luggage, plus a 23kg checked bag if you purchase it
  • Flexi: 7kg hand luggage, plus a 23kg checked bag
  • Premium Economy: 7kg hand luggage, plus two checked bags up to 32kg each

If you're on a Saver or Flexi fare and your bag comes in between 23kg and 32kg, you'll be stuck with a A$40 overweight fee.

For extra bags, you'll pay A$25 for one bag, A$80 all-in for two bags, and A$135 for three bags.

Note that when pre-purchasing luggage online, the maximum of three bags covered under the online pre-purchase scheme includes your ticket or Velocity allowance – it doesn’t come on top of it. We've covered the full details in the "Limits on pre-purchased baggage online" section of our article explaining the new baggage rules.

Velocity Frequent Flyer Silver, Gold and Platinum cardholders

The basic rule for you, Velocity Frequent Flyers, is that whatever you get on Virgin Australia you should get on flights you book through the Virgin Australia website that are operated by Air New Zealand:

  • Velocity Silvers receive a free 23kg checked bag on economy fares, even Virgin Australia Saver fares that don't allow bags.
  • Velocity Golds, however, get to bring a 32kg bag with them whenever they fly economy, no matter what fare type they buy. 
  • Velocity Platinums get two bags of up to 32kg each.

Extra luggage benefits extend across both airlines

Despite what's listed in the trans-Tasman alliance's official travel agent reference (a 1MB PDF file which you can download directly from this link), a Virgin Australia spokesperson told us that luggage benefits extend across the two airlines.

The section on page 14 of the guide says: "IMPORTANT – Please note that a DJ Premium customer who books on a NZ or NZ7000 series flight will not be entitled to any additional checked baggage allowance over and above what is included as part of the NZ fare." On page 13, a similar section denies extra baggage to Air New Zealand Premium customers.

"Disregard both those sections marked 'important'" the Virgin Australia spokesperson told us. "They won't be there in the next edition of the guidance."

Velocity Gold & Platinum allowances trump domestic Air NZ seat-only fares

Despite Air New Zealand's removal of a checked bag from its basic "grabaseat" ticket rate, top-tier Velocity frequent flyers are entitled to free checked luggage on these flights.

"Velocity allowances override luggage restrictions, even on the Grabaseat fare without bag" a Virgin Australia spokeswoman told Australian Business Traveller.  "Velocity Gold members get 32kg of checked luggage, Platinum get 69kg."

We were surprised, as even Air New Zealand's Star Alliance Gold partner frequent flyers are specifically denied this benefit, but the spokesperson double-checked the details and re-confirmed the Velocity privileges.

As frequent travellers to New Zealand, we've first-hand experience (and numerous reader reports) that this has still not filtered down to Air New Zealand's staff. So be prepared to stick your ground there and ask to see a supervisor if necessary.

If you encounter difficulties clarifying your baggage entitlements, especially against an Air New Zealand flight, Virgin Australia recommends that travellers call Velocity customer service: in Australia, the number is 131 875; and in New Zealand, 0800 230 875. (You can also dial direct to +61 2 8667 5924.)

For more of our in-depth coverage of the Air New Zealand/Virgin Australia trans-Tasman alliance, check out:

Profile

About 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.

 

Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 9/12/11 by Al

Fantastic article AusBT, very informative and useful, I'm only flying DJ/NZ trans-Tasman now rather than Qantas and knowing that I can use my Velocity Platinum to get extra baggage above what AirNZ says is great!

2 on 14/5/12 by JH

It is a great article unfortuntately Air New Zealand has not read it! I am a gold velocity member and I travelled to NZ on Pacific Blue and returned on Air NZ on the same booking. I received my baggage allowance as expected on PB however when I checked in for my AIr NZ flight I was told I had to pay an extra $70. Eventually the charge was waiverd but only as a gesture of goodwill. I was told in no uncertain terms I had no baggage allowance with Air Zealand. It was an unpleasant experience. May I suggest you recheck your information. My flight was a good few months after this article was published. Thanks

1 on 14/5/12 by John

Hi JH - the inconsistency of the trans-Tasman alliance's application is deeply frustrating. Air NZ agents still don't seem to have been trained up on it. I've always found that the information I got from Virgin Australia is correct when pressing the matter with a supervisor (most recently in late January) but the lack of training is still a real problem with the alliance.

3 on 17/5/12 by stredinnick

Anyone know the situation for a Gold FF taking a bicycle across the ditch?

4 on 20/5/12 by Liam

I'm flying to Auckland out of Melbourne in a month from now, travelling on Air New Zealand but ticketed however through Virgin Australia.

My ticket clearly states I get 69kgs of baggage, so I'll be interesting to see how things go at checkin.

1 on 29/6/12 by azurius_inc

NZ agents are advised to follow exactly what the ticket says that the passenger is entitled to (incl. DJ pax), so if your ticket states 69kg, the agent should be honouring that. I'm assuming you've just taken this flight LiamR? Was this the case? Would be good to hear what actually happened.

1 on 29/6/12 by Liam

Yep, no issues. The staff honored the ticketed baggage allowance with no problems.

2 on 29/6/12 by John

Interesting, azurius_inc -- I can see that being problematic if a customer presents their frequent flyer card at check-in, which would allow additional luggage. Do you know what happens at that point? Is there a central place to refer to? (Feel free to email me at john@ausbt.com.au if you'd rather.)

1 on 29/6/12 by azurius_inc

Okay here's as simple and concise as I can get it:

DJ Freq. Flyers booked through DJ travelling on NZ operated flights will receive the +1 baggage.

NZ Freq. Flyers booked through NZ travelling on DJ operated flight will also receive the +1 baggage.

Frequent flyers who book from their home carrier will be entitled to the full benefits of their membership regardless of the carrier. This is the main purpose and nature of the codeshare agreement.

However,

When a freq. flyer makes a booking with the 'other' airline, their +1 benefits will not be recognised even when the carrier is of their own.

Simplest way for travellers to see:

Velocity members will get their benefits when their itinerary is showing all DJ flights (including DJ8000 series).

Airpoint members will get their benefits when their itinerary is showing all NZ flights (including NZ7000 series).

Moral of the story: disregard the carrier (NZ/DJ). Book from your home airline to get all the perks.

Hope that clears the air folks! :-)

5 on 21/7/12 by aqua

I have a dozen internal domestic NZ flights coming up. Unfortunately, I can't use the Virgin site to book flights to the smaller airport, so have booked direct with Air NZ. 

Anyone got any suggestions on how I can get my 2nd carry on on the Beech 1900D (I will only be in NZ for 2 days at a time, so like to avoid checked baggage where possible). The Air NZ site accepts my Velocity frequent flyer (but I didn;t put DJ in front of it).

Interestingly, I can book into this same smaller airport, via WLG or AKL on the QF site, which I have also done in the past.

1 on 21/7/12 by azurius_inc

Hey aqua

Unfortunately when you book NZ domestic solely by itself you will still be entitled to the 1PC 7kg carry on allowance only. Any further pieces will only be accepted as checked baggage. The Velocity Frequent Flyer benefits actually does not have extra allowances for carry on baggage; it is only a benefit of the Gold/Gold Elite Airpoint members from AirNZ.

If you're concerned about whether or not your Velocity number has been entered correctly into your NZ booking, you can contact the AirNZ contact centre and they can have a look at that for you.

I'm interested to hear more about booking NZ regional routes via other airlines. You mentioned you can do that with QF, I'm aware that is only possible when your journey originates from Australia is that correct? As far as I know, that is the exact same case with DJ.

1 on 3/8/12 by aqua

Thanks azarius.

Yes, I could book on the NZ regional flights through Qantas, but couldn't get either the routing, or the pricing right, so have had to break them up again and book with NZ direct. Fortunately they have a thnk called 'fast bag'', which I know nothing about till I saw it at the stairs of the Beech. I asked the 1st Officer about it and they said that you need to do it at checkin.

So we tried to fit my bag (compliant length and weight) in seat 1F, no chance. Another kind passenger offered to put it under the seat in front of them, didn't fit, so the 1st Officer put it in the hold.

On my return, I asked the counter about their "Premium Hand Luggage" which is what Qantas Link call it in Oz. Ther weren't quite sure what I meant till I explained. 

On the NZ site, it says fast bag is for Gold/Gold Elite/Koru members. Anyone know if that applies to Velocity Gold's as well? Will be coming off Business class this trip and don't want surprises at checkin.

1 on 3/8/12 by azurius_inc

Hi aqua

Yes, as per the NZ site you've found, fast bag is available for Gold/GE/Koru members. This is a service available to NZ frequent flyers only. As such service is not offered by DJ to their Gold/Platinum members, it does not get offered by NZ to the Velocity members. The nature of the codeshare agreement is that G/P Velocity members travelling on codeshare flights operated by NZ (DJ8000s) will receive the same benefits as if they were travelling on a DJ flight. Benefits offered by DJ will be extended to the DJ8000s flights.

1 on 7/8/12 by aqua

I managed to get 'fast bag' on my return flight, but have sinced checked with NZ via email and phone who confirmed the above advice that fast bag is only for NZ Frequent Flyers:( 

On the phone they did say (after checking with a supervisor) that if I booked with DJ, I would gt my DJ allowances all the way through. (Might have to play around with airport routings to see if I can get the DJ site to book me on another nearby airport (good thing NZ is not that big)

I think I will try to get fast bag at the Koru Club, as Lounge staff are normally more accomodating of FF's.

Otherwise, I might just do the intra NZ part by road. Spend a couple of hours driving through the countryside instead of in a lounge waiting for a plane.

 

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