Virgin Australia's Hong Kong flights: what do you want to see?

Virgin Australia's Hong Kong flights: what do you want to see?

Update: Virgin Australia has confirmed a July 5 launch of direct flights between Melbourne and Hong Kong. Click here for full details.

TALKING POINT | Virgin Australia is counting down to the start of flights to Hong Kong, with a flurry of test schedules entered into online booking systems and exposed by Google ahead of an expected launch next week.

Flights from both Sydney and Melbourne to Hong Kong have been tagged, although some of the data is undoubtedly dummy entries – for example, a 'VA80' flight from Sydney to Hong Kong shows as departing Sydney at 1.35am, well after the airport's nightly curfew kicks in.

You can see these entries for yourself by typing 'flights Sydney Hong Kong' and 'flights Melbourne Hong Kong' into Google.

(This is a favourite tip at the AusBT office, letting us quickly check timetables and flight frequencies without digging into an airline's own website.)

Here are the details for an alleged return flight VA81 from Hong Kong to Sydney.

And here's how the Melbourne-Hong Kong route is looking – again, based on what Google has picked up rather than anything announced by Virgin Australia, so there is no suggestion this schedule is the real deal.

VA87 lists as departing Melbourne at 9.40am to reach Hong Kong at 5.20pm and two hours later bounce back to Australia as VA86, landing in Melbourne at 7.20am the next day.

We're not entering into speculation on any of this: and for those getting excited by the prospects of a 'leak', our advice is simple: chill.

We expect an official announcement from Virgin Australia soon, in all likelihood very soon, and that's when all the details will be laid out. There's no sense getting all het up over what might not be.

That said, these 'pop-up' details do make for some interesting reflection when it comes to flight timings.

Consider the current duopoly of Qantas and Cathay Pacific, for example – a duopoly which Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti has said he intends "to break, and bring competition from the price side but also from the product side."

Flight schedules: Qantas vs Cathay Pacific

Qantas has one flights a day out of Sydney and Melbourne to Hong Kong which follow the same schedule: departing at 11.15am to reach Hong Kong around 5.30pm, with the respective return legs being overnights (out of Hong Kong at 7.50pm, arriving back in Australia around 8am, the following day).

From Sydney Qantas has a second flight which most days leaves in the early afternoon to reach Hong Kong around 8pm.

However, the Red Roo's Oneworld partner and frenemy Cathay Pacific offers four daily flights between Sydney and Hong Kong, and three between Melbourne and Hong Kong.

For example, Cathay's Sydney schedule allows an 8.40am departure to reach Hong Kong at 3pm, and another flight which pretty much matches Qantas; a third daily service leaves Sydney in the late afternoon to reach Hong Kong at 10pm, followed by an overnight flight departing Sydney at 10.20pm.

That's a flexibility which certainly appeals to many business travellers.

So, looking at these alleged Virgin Australia timings to Hong Kong and back – and forgetting about Sydney or Melbourne as being the Aussie anchors for the route – how well would these schedules work for you, the Australian business traveller?

Choosing between a flight departing Australia in the earliest hours of the morning to reach Hong Kong at 8.15am (VA81) or one that'd be wheels-up at 9.40am for an arrival into Hong Kong at 5.20pm (VA87), which would be best for you?

Would you prefer to fly into Hong Kong in the morning, to launch straight into meetings or perhaps catch a connecting flight into China?

Or is an afternoon arrival – checking into the hotel, dinner and drinks with local contacts and customers, and a good night's sleep before tackling the next day head-on – is that more your style?


Share your preferences on business travel flight timings between Australian and Hong Kong in the comments below.

[Please limit your comments to this aspect of Virgin's forthcoming Hong Kong flights – other posts will be edited or deleted at our discretion in the interest of keeping the discussion on topic.]

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

[email protected] / @djsflynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • mviy


    16 Mar, 2017 06:50 pm

    Personally I'd prefer daytime flights in both directions both to and from HKG.
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  • Steve Doyle

    Steve Doyle

    16 Mar, 2017 06:57 pm

    This is exactly why I prefer Cathay to Qantas, I like a daytime flight both ways. It's also good if the client's budget is tight because a daytime flight in premium economy is bearable, but overnight flights on Qantas means economy.

    With regard to the Virgin flights, I am keen to give them a try because the crew always give stellar service, the meals are great and I am happy to support 'the other guy', and a daytime flight would work very well for me. Overnight from HKG is less ideal but if you're in business class that's better than sitting further back.
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  • Martin Haynes

    Martin Haynes

    16 Mar, 2017 07:30 pm

    Yes, Qantas one flight a day from Sydney doesn't give people much choice. A Virgin flight that would leave after midnight wouldn't be too bad because I could get in a whole day's work, have dinner with the family and then head to the airport and by then I would be so tired I would go to sleep right away and get a decent sleep through to landing in HKG! The morning arrival into HKG would work well for connecting flights to China as well as going to the hotel as long as you could arrange early checkin.
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  • Alex


    16 Mar, 2017 07:00 pm

    Qantas does not have one flight a day. Iits twice day with QF117/128 and QF118/128
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  • Colin Steven


    20 Mar, 2017 08:34 am

    I thought 117 wasnt everyday?
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  • John Phelan

    John Phelan

    16 Mar, 2017 07:00 pm

    Certainly daytime flights to HKG; happy with either day or overnight on the return. I recently did the CX flight that leaves HKG at lunchtime and gets to BNE at 11pm - was a great way to do it.
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  • ajstubbs


    16 Mar, 2017 07:02 pm

    The latter! Get in late afternoon, wind down and start refreshed the next day. Plus there's more time to enjoy the flight on day flights and less body clock disruption I find. 
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  • abudhabi1


    16 Mar, 2017 07:31 pm

    A reasonable schedule for starters to be competitive against the existing carriers.I am thinking 11AM OR 12PM ex Sydney or Melbourne even if it means for say Adelaide passengers getting the 7am flights over and ex Melbourne 7am or 8am over while coming home something that can provide a decent connection back to Sydney to connect to the cities mentioned.Whatever it is they ultimately offer it has to be better than flying Singapore Airlines via Singapore and the schedules they offer which are sensible but don't arrive at the other end just after 10pm at night.
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  • reeves35


    16 Mar, 2017 07:33 pm

    With only one flight per day, the timing proposed by VA makes sense.  It is not particularly innovative but would appear to appeal to the broadest audience and maximise aircraft utilisation.
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  • Adam T


    16 Mar, 2017 07:41 pm

    The flights need to be timed well for connections to/from Taiwan, followed by the mainland. Day flights ex HK only serve HK so my preference is overnight back to OZ. Qantas and CX have good schedules, but would love to see an overnight SYD-HK on Qantas. 
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  • John Odlum

    John Odlum

    16 Mar, 2017 07:42 pm

    I don't mind flying up in the day to get into Hong Kong in the late afternoon or early evening. By them I'm pretty tired, I can have dinner and an early night because I'm still on AU time and there is a few hours' difference.
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  • Meridiengroup


    16 Mar, 2017 07:43 pm

    0130? What about SYD curfew?
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  • David Flynn


    16 Mar, 2017 07:50 pm

    We have flagged that in the article already.
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  • downdata


    16 Mar, 2017 07:54 pm

    Yea its lifted thanks to VA 
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  • fresh  thoughts


    16 Mar, 2017 08:13 pm

    if the VA flight leaves from melbourne what lounge will it use?
    does anyone think VA will be asking for passengers to use its domestic lounge as it does for some services
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  • oliver_dvs


    16 Mar, 2017 08:17 pm

    Probably the SQ lounge
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  • DBPZ


    16 Mar, 2017 10:34 pm

    Unlikely -- the hkg routes mean VA  betrayed SQ by establishing a new union with hna for the entire north eastern Asia market. Maybe the domestic VA lounge will be it.
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  • nix584


    17 Mar, 2017 09:19 am

    I'd go with the EY lounge.
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  • tronixstuff


    17 Mar, 2017 10:05 am

    Probably the same as Fiji flights - use the domestic lounge at T2 before security. 
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  • Guvner


    18 Mar, 2017 10:20 am

    Think of the most convoluted lounge access policy you can think of based on status, cabin and destination, and combine it with the least desirable lounges, then you'll come up with the answer
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  • oliver_dvs


    16 Mar, 2017 08:15 pm

    Just checked myself and it's showing two flights for VA on those days.

    It's showing the VA80 flight in the article as well as the

    VA82 flight dept0830 arr0310

    So this possibly could be the actual depart flight as it doesn't touch the curfew. 

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  • Himeno


    16 Mar, 2017 09:16 pm

    and they can only have 1 of these options anyway. They have only asked for, and gotten, 7 flights/week.
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  • David Flynn


    16 Mar, 2017 08:54 pm

    Yes, all this inconsistency is precisely why we are advising readers not to take anything as Gospel for now!
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  • Miguel


    16 Mar, 2017 09:08 pm

    With SYD-HKG and MEL-HKG being a good 9 hours, overnight flights are the best to hit the ground running with enough sleep in both directions. That being said, with a small, stretched-out widebody fleet, it doesn't make much business sense to keep those planes sitting on the tarmac (just like what ANA and Qantas do for their SYD-HKG flights) just to give us overnighters in both directions.
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  • tronixstuff


    17 Mar, 2017 10:08 am

    VA widebody fleet is so very thin. Wouldn't want to be in a hurry home from HKG and have the plane go tech at the airport.
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  • Himeno


    17 Mar, 2017 04:02 pm

    QF flights to HKG turn around and fly back to AU within 2-3 hours of arriving. ANA doesn't fly SYD-HKG.
    You're thinking of HND. (and there is more of an excuse for QF keeping the plane at HND all day then there used to be at NRT)
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  • Miguel


    20 Mar, 2017 01:09 pm

    Sorry - typo. I meant SYD-HND for ANA and QF.
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  • Miguel


    20 Mar, 2017 01:11 pm

    Sorry typo. I meant SYD-HND for ANA and QF. Just a comparison because the options for overnighters to HKG are so limited, wish we had multiple airlines flying both directions overnight.
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  • ryanpst


    16 Mar, 2017 09:44 pm

    Why not time the HKG to Aus leg based on the Virgin Atlantic flight from LHR? Maybe the answer lies in an Aussie arrival time there?
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  • Flying Kangaroo

    Flying Kangaroo

    16 Mar, 2017 10:07 pm

    I actually like two schedules in regards to AU - HKG. 

    1. Leave AU mid-morning, reach Hong Kong in the late afternoon. This allows me to check in the hotel and have dinner with family/friends/business partners.2. Leave AU afternoon, reach Hong Kong in the late evening. This is also a good option. I don't have to wake up too early in the morning to catch an international short haul. After arriving at HKG, I can avoid the peak rush hour on the MRT or on the freeway. 
    Also both day time flight allows me to enjoy the business class product better than the overnighter. 
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    17 Mar, 2017 10:09 am

    My wife and I can't wait for Virgin to flydirect to Hong Kong as we could then have our luggage transferred directly to the Virgin Atlantic flight to Heathrow. Mind you would prefer if Virgin Atlantic recommenced their Sydney-Hong Kong-Heathrow route again save having to go through multiple airlines to do the same thing
    Roll on Virgin Australia get it happening so my wife,kids and I can visit her family in the UK
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  • Miguel


    17 Mar, 2017 10:49 am

    It also makes more sense for overnight flights both ways, or an early morning departure from Australia and overnight return, to connect to the mainland with Hong Kong Airlines, given their recent HNA Group tie-up. Most of their flights in and out of HKG are daytime flights so VA will want to capture as much of that transiting market as possible
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  • Vas Srinivasan


    17 Mar, 2017 11:52 am

    I mostly fly business when i travel overseas, i find the best use of business class is for destinations which are very different to australia's and i benefit immensely with night sector of the flights (read LAX, South American or Middle east). when the time difference is 2-3 hrs, overnight flights are not particularly useful unless that is your final destination. This is my personal preference. BNE-HKG or SYD-HKG is best done during day time (for me !)
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  • Yohy


    17 Mar, 2017 01:39 pm

    daytime flights are best for those of us who are at C-Level and will only get approval for economy or premium economy, i don't like travelling on personal time as i may not get it back in lieu later...
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  • Ryan Connolly

    Ryan Connolly

    17 Mar, 2017 02:42 pm

    Daytime flights for me, especially if I'm stuck in economy. Last year I did a lot of flying to and from Hong Kong, project budget was ridiculously tight so it was all economy or on a good sale premium economy, so I went with CX because I could choose daytime flights both ways.
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  • Nick  Sydney 348

    Nick Sydney 2

    17 Mar, 2017 02:43 pm

    Daytime flights preferred but occasionally us CX to get to London so its a case of whatever scheduling is required to avoid a long layover in HK for the Europe leg. 
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  • flyOFTEN


    17 Mar, 2017 03:38 pm

    overnight both ways, so can sleep !!!
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  • DBPZ


    17 Mar, 2017 04:16 pm

    This is ausBt, so I guess people here are mostly for business travels. Hence no needs to save time. 
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  • David Flynn


    17 Mar, 2017 05:03 pm

    Don't know about that, I'm a business traveller and I like to save time when I'm on the job.
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  • Jason Wright


    17 Mar, 2017 03:51 pm

    Bring back QF88 AJ !!
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  • Tom


    17 Mar, 2017 04:10 pm

    +1 for timing that allows a reasonable connection to VS to London. I miss the VS LHR<>HKG<>SYD route.

    What's the point of these dummy entries? What are they testing? Where does Google get its data?
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  • AwaywithMike


    17 Mar, 2017 06:24 pm

    Where are those in VA close enough to the real details, that "anonymously" couldn't feed us some details.... :-p
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  • VA773ER


    17 Mar, 2017 09:53 pm

    Appears to be showing two flights SYD-HKG but only one coming back HKG-SYD. With VA80 departing at 0035 not possible after as it's after Sydneys curfew I wonder if the 0035 departure could actually be a yet to be listed BNE-HKG flight. Perhaps they have not officially announced anything yet as they are awaiting formal approvals with MEL & SYD most likely sorted and BNE being the final piece of the puzzle for a tri-east coast-HKG setup. 
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  • lionelhutz


    18 Mar, 2017 08:32 am

    I fly this route a lot. If I in business, I prefer night flights, CX178 is basically perfect timing for a good night's sleep. If I can't get into business, I prefer the afternoon flights so I can get into HKG and sleep in a hotel. On the way back, I would prefer to leave about 10:30-11 but the closest is CX105 at midnight. You get a good sleep and arrive in MEL at 11am or noon depending on daylight saving, so if you don't sleep well it is only half a day to get through.   
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  • Shoudy Chen

    Shoudy Chen

    19 Mar, 2017 12:37 am

    Morning flights from AU -HK is good as people can have lunch in the flight. The flights will allow the pax to arrive in HK safely. 
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25 May, 2018 08:48 pm

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