You can of course redeem Velocity Frequent Flyer points to book reward seats on Virgin Australia flights. But did you know that most Etihad Guest redemptions on Virgin Australia flights require fewer miles and lower charges than Velocity?
For example, it costs 6,900 Etihad Guest miles plus around $32 in taxes to fly with Virgin Australia from Sydney to Cairns in Economy class. But an equivalent reward seat booked through Velocity Frequent Flyer would cost 17,800 Velocity points, plus $41 in taxes and Virgin Australia carrier charges. In Business class, Etihad Guest charges 13,800 miles compared to 35,500 Velocity points on that route.
How to earn Etihad Guest miles in Australia
While there are many more ways to earn Velocity points than Etihad Guest miles in Australia, you can easily transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Etihad Guest. If you have an Amex credit card that earns Membership Rewards points, you can transfer those points to Etihad at the same 2:1 conversion rate that applies to transfers to Velocity Frequent Flyer.
If you wanted to use your Amex Membership Rewards points to book a Virgin Australia flight, it would often make sense to transfer the points to Etihad Guest rather than Velocity as you’ll spend fewer points (and pay lower taxes & charges) overall.
Alternatively, you can buy Etihad Guest miles directly from the airline. They cost USD20 (~AU$26) per 1,000 miles at full price, but Etihad runs regular promotions where miles are discounted or bonuses are offered. Etihad has offered up to 60% bonus miles during past promotions.
Even when paying full price, it would cost approximately USD280 (~AU$362 at the current exchange rate) to buy enough Etihad Guest miles to book a one-way Business class reward ticket from Sydney to Cairns. Accounting for the taxes payable when redeeming the points, that’s still a total cost of just under $400 – or less if you purchased the miles during a promotion – compared to a Virgin Australia Business Saver fare of $649.
Virgin Australia sweet spots with Etihad Guest miles
Etihad Guest charges just 6,900 miles for any Virgin Australia Economy class flight up to 1,250 miles in length. Business class flights up to 1,250 miles cost just 13,800 miles. Longer flights cost more miles, but are still good value.
Here’s a summary of the Etihad Guest award chart for Virgin Australia flights:
|0 – 1,250 miles||Sydney-Cairns
|6,900 miles||13,800 miles|
|1,251 – 1,750 miles||Perth-Melbourne
|10,900 miles||21,800 miles|
|16,900 miles||33,800 miles|
Domestic Virgin Australia flights just less than 1,250 or 1,750 miles, like Sydney-Cairns or Perth-Melbourne, are the best value. Once international travel resumes, routes like Sydney-Queenstown and Brisbane-Port Vila are also great value as they are both just under 1,250 miles.
How to book Virgin Australia flights with Etihad Guest miles
You’ll need to call the Etihad Guest contact centre to book Virgin Australia award flights as they are not available online. The Australian contact number for Etihad Guest is 1300 532 215.
Before calling, we recommend that you check for reward seat availability on the Virgin Australia website or using a tool such as Expert Flyer. If a Velocity reward seat is available on your preferred flight, you should also be able to book it using Etihad Guest miles.
If you’re in Australia, we recommend calling Etihad Guest in the evening or early in the morning as you’ll be more likely to speak to somebody in the Belgrade call centre – which provides better service than some of Etihad’s other call centres. Partner airline reward flights must be booked at least 24 hours in advance.
You’ll need to pay any applicable taxes by credit card at the time of booking, but Velocity carrier charges ($10 per domestic Virgin Australia flight, when redeeming Velocity points) do not apply.
You can discuss Etihad Guest redemptions on Virgin Australia on the long-running Australian Frequent Flyer thread on this topic: How to redeem Etihad Guest miles for Virgin Australia flights