Virgin Australia, Air Canada launch frequent flyer partnership

Virgin Australia and Air Canada are set to roll out a new alliance which will see their respective Velocity and Aeroplan frequent flyers able to earn and burn points across both airlines.

Taking effect from January 19, it comes amid glimmers of hope on the prospect of international travel restarting.

It also comes just over four years since the airlines first announced a “strategic cooperation agreement” in December 2016, spanning from codeshare flights to reciprocal frequent flyer benefits.

Since then, Aeroplan has been relaunched and Virgin Australia rescued from collapse by new US owners Bain Capital.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges for travel, particularly in the form of border restrictions and route reductions, this new partnership positions Air Canada Aeroplan to be at the ready for the recovery,” Air Canada says, adding that “Trans-Pacific travel between Australia and Canada is an important market.”

In pre-pandemic days, Air Canada flew from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Vancouver, although the Melbourne-Vancouver route was set to become a seasonal service instead of running year-round.

Vancouver also served as a gateway for onwards flights within Canada and, for some travellers, a pivot back to US cities such as Seattle and New York.

Velocity Points on Air Canada flights
As is the norm, the number of Velocity Points earned on an Air Canada flight is based on the fare class and the number of miles flown.

Here’s the earning table for hoovering up Velocity Points on domestic Air Canada flights.

Velocity Points earning rates for domestic Air Canada flights.
Velocity Points earning rates for domestic Air Canada flights.
If you’re looking to bolster your status credits tally on that domestic Air Canada flight, here’s where you stand.

Velocity status credits earning rates for domestic Air Canada flights.
Velocity status credits earning rates for domestic Air Canada flights.
Virgin notes that Discount Economy fare classes S, T, L, A and K “are ineligible for Status Credit earn.”

On an international Air Canada flight, here’s how many Velocity Points you can earn.

Velocity Points earning rates for international Air Canada flights.
Velocity Points earning rates for international Air Canada flights.
Likewise, here’s the Velocity status credits earning table for international Air Canada flights.

Velocity status credits earning rates for international Air Canada flights.
Velocity status credits earning rates for international Air Canada flights.
And how many of your Velocity Points will it take to book a domestic or international Air Canada flight?

Virgin’s not sharing that at the moment, as redeeming points across all Virgin partner airlines is currently paused, but the airline says it’ll reveal this at a later date.

Velocity access to Air Canada lounges
A Virgin Australia spokesman tells Executive Traveller the partnership currently doesn’t include reciprocal lounge access, such as allowing Velocity Gold and Platinum members into Air Canada’s airport lounges.

Although will hopefully fall into place once international travel resumes, Velocity members would only be welcomed at Air Canada’s Maple Leaf lounges and not the more upmarket Signature Suite lounges which are reserved for business class passengers.

Aeroplan Miles on Virgin Australia flights
From an Air Canada perspective, Aeroplan members will be able to earn Aeroplan Miles and Status Qualifying Miles on all Virgin Australia flights, based on the type of ticket and the distance flown: ranging from 25% of miles flown for the cheapest economy fare to 150% in fully-flexible business class.

These are the Aeroplan earning rates for Virgin Australia flights.
These are the Aeroplan earning rates for Virgin Australia flights.
Aeroplan Miles can be redeemed against a Virgin Australia booking at the rates of Aeroplan’s standard partner award pricing chart, with a C$39 booking fee but no carrier surcharges.

For example, a quick one-way flit between Sydney and Melbourne or Sydney and Brisbane will cost 8,000 Aeroplan Miles in economy and 20,000 miles in business.

However, as the transcontinental trek between Sydney and Perth falls into the 2,001-5000 mile bracket on the Aeroplan table, that will cost 25,000 miles in economy and 45,000 miles in business.

Virgin will join Etihad Airways, Vistara, Azul and Air Serbia on Aeroplan’s roster of travel partners.

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