There are many different ways to use Virgin Velocity points to fly to Europe. Unfortunately Virgin Australia do not fly to anywhere in Europe using their own aircraft, but several partner airlines fill this gap.
One of the most common methods would be to fly on Etihad Airways via Abu Dhabi. As Etihad is a Velocity partner airline, points can be used directly to book business class (and even first class) seats on most Etihad flights. The Abu Dhabi-based airline is ranked as one of the world’s top airlines and flies to a number of Australian cities, including to Sydney with new A380 aircraft. The airline also operates multiple flights daily to London and many other European destinations from Abu Dhabi. Searching for flights to multiple cities in Europe may improve the chances of finding available seats. Reward seats might not be available on flights to London but may be available, for example, on a flight to Paris.
Sometimes reward availability on Etihad flights does not show up on the Velocity website. If this happens, one strategy is to search on the Etihad website. Velocity members should be able to book any seat marked as a “GuestSeat” on Etihad’s website using Velocity points.
You will or should easily find 2pax one way J. SYD-AUH-CDG straight off the virgin site. Then try AMS-AUH-SYD on virgin site as your second booking. If flights don’t show up on virgin, go to the Etihad site and do a dummy rewards booking and if you see AMS-AUH-SYD ring virgin and they will book it for you over the phone. Also try each segment separately as sometimes the flights won’t show as one connection is not available. Then you have to fiddle with the dates, meaning a possible night at AUH.
Finding two available seats on the same flight may be difficult during peak travel times, such as Christmas and school holidays. But with enough flexibility and forward planning, it is usually possible to find something.
Another partner airline that can be used is Singapore Airlines. Singapore is also ranked as one of the world’s best airlines and has world-renowned business and first class products. Velocity points can be used directly to book any seat on Singapore Airlines except for first class suites.
But if using points to travel to Europe on Singapore Airlines, a better strategy in many cases would be to first transfer the points into Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer program. Velocity points can be converted for a 35% “penalty” into KrisFlyer miles. They can then be used to book Singapore Airlines seats at KrisFlyer rates. Using Velocity points, return Singapore Airlines business class flights from Sydney to London would cost 350,000 points per person. However, the same redemption using KrisFlyer miles only costs 190,000 KrisFlyer miles – or 256,500 Velocity points. Plus, booking on the KrisFlyer website will shave a further 15% off the price, bringing the required total to just under 220,000 Velocity points per person.
But that’s not all! One member suggests that flying into a secondary airport in Europe, such as Amsterdam or Copenhagen will further reduce the number of points required. And on the return leg, departing from an airport outside of the UK will reduce the amount of taxes payable by almost $300 each, as the hefty UK departure tax (which is doubled for business and first class passengers) would be avoided.
Flying back from London is expensive due to the APD – you can save hundreds of dollars flying from elsewhere in Europe.
Singapore Airlines miles can also be used to fly on other Star Alliance carriers, such as Lufthansa, Swiss, United and Thai Airways. A final advantage of using Singapore Airlines miles is that a free stopover is even allowed on the way, though only if return flights are booked.
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