The Virgin Australia / Singapore Airlines partnership bears more pleasing fruit this week with the launch of joint Round The World and Circle Pacific fares.
Although RTW and Circle fares usually associated with holidays they're exceptionally appealing to business travellers who need to maximise their time on the road, and perhaps follow a long work trip with a little well-earned downtime.
The Virgin-SQ fares cover travel from any of Virgin Australia's ports around Australia and taps into Singapore Airlines' extensive international network, with no restrictions on the total number of stops made or minimum stays during the trip. And yes, you'll also rack up Velocity or KrisFlyer miles as you travel.
Round The World fares
Economy-class RTW fares kick off at $2,264 (not including taxes and surcharges) and can get to you to 85 destinations in 35 countries.
Your journey has to include both a trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific crossing, but only one of each, and a side trip from Singapore to Asia is permitted.
Travel agent Mark Trim from RoundAbout Travel, which specialises in RTW fares, says the new deal "could really put Virgin back in the round-the-world game."
"Virgin has been overpriced in the past, with a very limited route. While they have the best (round the world) fares for premium economy, in business class and economy they're overpriced by 15-20 percent."
Trim says that one-third of all RTW fares he sells are in business class – mostly sold to small-medium sized companies, especially business owners and the self-employed.
"We get a lot of savvy business travellers buying round the world fares because they're the ones paying, and a lot of the time it's cheaper than a standard return fare."
"If you take a business class return fare to the US bought within 50 days of travel you'll pay a lot more than a round the world fare because (RTW fares) don't have an advance purchase period" Trim explains, "so you can get huge savings on short notice."
"If I look at Perth to Los Angeles for example, once you get in the 50-21 days' notice period you’re pushing $8,000-9,000 for a return flight. But you can get a round the world ticket for $6,000-$7,000, so you pay less to visit three continents and have five stopovers!".
Trim says that many business travellers take advantage of RTW fares to combine visits to New York and London, "that's probably our most popular routing, along with stops in Asia through commercial hubs like Hong Kong and Shanghai."
"They can also combine business and pleasure, attending a conference in Las Vegas or New York and then heading to Europe for a few weeks, or doing it the other way, with an expo in Frankfurt or Milan and then stopping off in the US."
Circle Pacific fares
Starting from $1,969 (not including taxes and surcharges) The Virgin-SQ Circle Pacific fares encompass 36 destinations in 13 countries and hinge on Singapore Airlines' extensive Asia-Pacific footprint.
You'll need to cross both the South Pacific and North or Central Pacific as part of your journey, and do so only once, although a side trip from Singapore to South-East Asia is also permitted.
Trim says that Circle Pacific fares generally "cost the same or more than a round the world fare", so the sub-$2,000 Virgin-SQ deal "seems very good value."
"Corporate markets like Circle Pacific fares if they want staff to visit several offices in the region – you do Singapore and Hong Kong, maybe Tokyo, then across to Los Angles and home."
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