Using Velocity frequent flyer points for Hong Kong Airlines flights

Using Velocity frequent flyer points for Hong Kong Airlines flights

One of Velocity's newest, but also most underrated airline partners is Hong Kong Airlines – because while the airline has limited routes to Australia, its network across Asia provides many opportunities for using Velocity points.

What's more, the airline has plans for flights to London and New York using its Airbus A350 aircraft, while also opening up a range of European destinaions, beginning with Moscow in May 2018 using an Airbus A330.

Read: Hong Kong Airlines' Airbus A350 business class seat review

Here are some of the ways you can make use of Velocity's points partnership with Hong Kong Airlines.

Booking Hong Kong Airlines flights with Velocity points: key routes

For Australian travellers, Hong Kong Airlines offers a 'triangle route' running from the Gold Coast to Cairns, onward to Hong Kong and then back to the Gold Coast non-stop, serving residents of both cities and also Brisbanites who don't mind the hour-long drive to Gold Coast Airport to hop aboard.

AusBT review: Hong Kong Airlines' Airbus A330 business class, Gold Coast-Cairns-Hong Kong

Hong Kong Airlines operates non-stop flights between Auckland and Hong Kong, too.

While you can't travel solely on the airline's Gold Coast-Cairns route, the tag is a minor detour for passengers originating on the Gold Coast, albeit a bit less convenient for Cairns residents who could fly non-stop from Cairns to Hong Kong, but would then need to return home from Hong Kong via the Gold Coast and then onward to Cairns.

But once you're in Hong Kong, it's a different story, where Hong Kong Airlines links the Pearl of the Orient with a host of cities across Asia including destinations in Mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and more.

This means you could fly from Australia to Hong Kong with Hong Kong Airlines and immediately connect onward to another destination, or could take advantage of your location in Hong Kong on a separate business trip or holiday to visit somewhere else as part of the same journey, without burning as many points as you'd need to fly from Australia.

Of course, that also works in reverse – if you're visiting one of the cities Hong Kong Airlines flies to, you could use your points to dart across to Hong Kong and back.

Further afield, you can jet between Hong Kong and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver, and also now Moscow.

While Velocity Frequent Flyer's points earning partnership excludes flights between Hong Kong and North America, there's no restriction on redeeming points for these flights, provided you can find availability, of course.

Booking Hong Kong Airlines flights with Velocity points: how many points you'll need

As Hong Kong Airlines doesn't offer first class or premium economy, here's how many points you'd need to get from Australia or New Zealand to Hong Kong in business class or economy, one-way:

To/from Hong Kong (one-way) Business class
Economy
Gold Coast
65,000 Velocity points 35,000 Velocity points
Cairns to Hong Kong
53,000 Velocity points 28,000 Velocity points
HK to Cairns via Gold Coast
78,000 Velocity points 42,000 Velocity points
Auckland
78,000 Velocity points 42,000 Velocity points

For Gold Coast passengers, the number of points needed to fly Gold Coast-Cairns-Hong Kong is the same as to fly Hong Kong-Gold Coast on the return, but for Cairns flyers, it's a bit more tricky.

Because Velocity looks at the total distance of the flights you're taking, not just the distance between where you start and finish your overall journey, you could jet from Cairns to Hong Kong for 53,000 Velocity points in business class on the non-stop flight – but with the voyage back home detouring via the Gold Coast, the number of points jumps to 78,000 for business class.

On flights across Asia purely to and from Hong Kong (not including a connection from Australia), here's how many Velocity points you'd need to fly to Hong Kong from a number of key cities, one-way. As always, for return journeys, you'll need to double these one-way figures.

To/from Hong Kong (one-way) Business class
Economy
Taipei
Hanoi
18,000 Velocity points 10,000 Velocity points
Bangkok
Ho Chi Minh City
Shanghai
26,000 Velocity points 14,000 Velocity points
Beijing
Osaka
Seoul
Tokyo
38,000 Velocity points 20,000 Velocity points

When taking a connecting flight (such as from the Gold Coast to Bangkok via Hong Kong), the number of miles needed is based on your total overall flying distance, not by adding the points together from the two tables above.

Here's how many Velocity points you'd need to reach these cities from the Gold Coast, transiting via Hong Kong:

To/from Gold Coast (one-way) Business class
Economy
Bangkok
Beijing
Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh City
Seoul
Shanghai
Taipei
78,000 Velocity points 42,000 Velocity points
Osaka
Tokyo
92,000 Velocity points 50,000 Velocity points

The only time you'd add up the points needed to get from the Gold Coast to Hong Kong plus the points needed from Hong Kong to another destination is where you break the journey in Hong Kong to spend time there, rather than merely flying through.

For example, if you flew from the Gold Coast to Bangkok via Hong Kong as part of a single journey, you'd need 78,000 Velocity points to fly business class.

If you instead wanted to fly to Hong Kong, spend a few days there and then continue to Bangkok on a later date, you'd need to pay 65,000 Velocity points to get from the Gold Coast to Hong Kong, plus 26,000 Velocity points to get from Hong Kong to Bangkok, for a grand total of 91,000 Velocity points.

Booking Hong Kong Airlines flights with Velocity points: making that reservation

While you initially had to call Velocity to book these flights, most Hong Kong Airlines services can now be booked 24/7 via the Velocity website, including journeys to and from Australia, those solely across Asia and journeys further afield such as from Hong Kong to LA.

The search process is the same as when booking any reward flight – just make sure the "Points + Pay" box is ticked and key in where you'd like to fly. For example, searching 'Gold Coast to Hong Kong' reveals the following option in business class, for 65,000 Velocity points plus $76.10 in taxes and fees:

You could also part with 77,700 Velocity points with no cash to pay at all, but that burns an extra 12,700 points to save a mere $76.10, which isn't the best value.

Just keep in mind that on many routes, Hong Kong Airlines doesn't fly daily, so you may find the Velocity website offering flights on Virgin Australia instead out of Sydney or Melbourne, or could click one of the other days of the week at the top to try a different day.

Also, while Cairns flyers can book 'Cairns to Hong Kong' online, booking a Hong Kong-Gold Coast-Cairns ticket in the reverse direction on points is only possible over the phone – and even then, may take some patience as there's a change in flight number at the Gold Coast (HX15 to HX16) which makes things a little tricky.

A more straightforward option for Cairns residents who also collect points outside of Velocity would be to use Qantas Points to book one of Cathay Pacific's non-stop flights from Hong Kong to Cairns, even if flying out of Cairns with Hong Kong Airlines via Velocity.

AusBT guide: Using Qantas frequent flyer points to book Cathay Pacific flights

Booking Hong Kong Airlines flights with Velocity points: selecting your seat

So you've managed to book your ideal flight? Great! As we've discovered, that's not the hardest part: it's choosing your seat, so here's a little tip.

When you book a Hong Kong Airlines flight using Velocity points, the ticked is issued by Virgin Australia, which causes problems with Hong Kong Airlines' website as the ticket number begins with the Virgin Australia code of '795', not the Hong Kong Airlines code of '851'.

This isn't your flight number, but the ticket number attached to your booking – and it's only a problem because Hong Kong Airlines' website permits seat selection only by entering ticket numbers beginning with 851, which isn't helpful if you've booked your flight via Velocity:

Being a partner airline flight, you also can't select your seat through the Velocity website or Virgin Australia call centre – but once you've finalised your booking, check your inbox for the obligatory booking email from Virgin Australia, and open up the PDF attachment named "Travel Reservation".

The document will show two airline reservation codes. The one at the top is Virgin Australia's reservation code, which you'll need if you want to change or cancel your booking through Velocity, but the other is Hong Kong Airlines' own reservation code, indicated by the "HX" next to it:

Keep this reservation code handy and fire up a live chat on the Hong Kong Airlines website. Key in your name, email address, booking reference (the six characters from the Travel Reservation PDF file next to the "HX"), and type your request into the box, such as for a specific seat (which you could confirm is available using ExpertFlyer), or just to request a window or aisle seat.

This tends to be much faster than calling Hong Kong Airlines and waiting on hold, and usually means you'll have a far better choice of seats than people who wait until check-in, or just take the seat they've been automatically assigned.

When it comes to online check-in, you won't be able to do that via Hong Kong Airlines' website either, as you again need a ticket number beginning with 851 – but if you download the Hong Kong Airlines mobile app, you may be able to complete online check-in through there instead, where you can fortunately enter a Virgin Australia 795 ticket number to get started:

As part of the check-in process, you'll be able to choose or change your seat – or can simply remain where you are...

... although this trick doesn't work for flights to or from Australia, where online check-in isn't currently offered.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin (ChrisCh)

[email protected] / @ChamberlinChris

Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business 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!
 

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20 Jun, 2018 07:59 am

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