Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer members can now use their Velocity points to book Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines reward flights via the Velocity website.
From Sydney, travellers can fly business class aboard Hainan to Changsha, Haikou or Xi’an for 78,000 Velocity points plus a payment of $91.28, one-way, while economy class can be had for 42,000 Velocity points + $91.28.
Out of Melbourne, you’d also need 78,000 Velocity points to jet to Changsha or Xi’an with Hainan Airlines – plus $84.95 on the side – with economy seats costing that same $84.95 plus 42,000 Velocity points.
Queenslanders could instead fly from Brisbane to Shenzhen with Hainan for 65,000 Velocity points + $91.89 in business class or 35,000 Velocity points plus $91.89 in economy:
There’s also the option of Hong Kong Airlines business class from the Gold Coast to Hong Kong for 65,000 Velocity points + $76.10, or economy class for 34,800 Velocity points with the same co-pay of $76.10.
AusBT review: Hong Kong Airlines business class, Gold Coast-Hong Kong
Cairns residents aren’t forgotten either, with Hainan’s Cairns-Shenzhen services and Hong Kong Airlines’ Cairns-Hong Kong flights both bookable for 53,000 Velocity points + $91.58 in business class or 28,000 Velocity points + $91.58 in economy class.
On many of the flights Australian Business Traveller searched, availability on Hainan Airlines was strong, with up to four business class seats and eight economy class seats open for points-based bookings.
Availability on Hong Kong Airlines also appears to be reasonable with business class seats available on many of the dates we searched – although availability in economy is more limited.
Velocity points can also be used for flight bookings further afield, such as Hong Kong to Los Angeles with Hong Kong Airlines at a cost of 104,000 Velocity points + $76.90 in business class aboard the airline’s Airbus A350 jets.
AusBT review: Hong Kong Airlines’ Airbus A350 business class seat
This update marks the next stage of the partnership between Virgin Australia and HNA Group, the parent company of the airlines above and of Beijing Capital Airlines and Tianjin Airlines, which are also partners of Virgin Australia.
Australian Business Traveller understands that talks are still progressing between the two entities to establish reciprocal frequent flyer benefits such as priority check-in and airport lounge access for Velocity Gold and Platinum frequent flyers travelling with these partners, and vice versa for Fortune Wings Club members taking Virgin Australia flights.
While Virgin Australia declined to provide an updated timeline on these developments – after previously announcing they’d begin “in the coming weeks” some seven months ago – it’s understood the airlines are working on these partnerships as a matter of priority.
It’s also understood that the complexity of these arrangements, which involve five airlines all working together rather than a typical one-to-one airline partnership, are causing the process to take longer than anticipated.
Until the next stage of the development, Velocity members can continue to earn points and status credits on Hong Kong Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Beijing Capital Airlines and Tianjin Airlines flights – and redeem their points with the same carriers, except for Tianjin Airlines.
While Hong Kong Airlines and Hainan Airlines reward flights can now be booked online, points-based bookings with Beijing Capital Airlines can continue to be made over the phone, by calling Velocity on 13 18 75 between 7:30am and 10:30pm (Sydney time), seven days a week.