There’s a little-known shortcut to status with a Virgin Australia partner airline. It’s possible to earn status with this airline with just one trip flying Virgin Australia. You’ll then receive benefits including lounge access, priority check-in, priority boarding and additional baggage allowance when flying with Virgin Australia.
The trick is to take advantage of the Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Club Elite Challenge. This ongoing Hainan Airlines status challenge is available to anyone that has Silver, Gold or higher status with another airline. You’ll need to complete a challenge in order to receive the full benefits of Hainan Airlines status. But this challenge can be completed on a range of Hainan Airlines partners including Virgin Australia and Alaska Airlines.
We’ve put together this guide to the Hainan Airlines status challenge for Australians.
How to Request a Fortune Wings Club Elite Challenge
Fortune Wings Club is the frequent flyer program of Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines and 8 other Chinese airlines. Several of these airlines fly to Australia and are Virgin Australia partners.
The Fortune Wings Club status challenge is free, but to be eligible you’ll need to already hold status with another airline. If you already hold the equivalent of Silver status with any airline, you can request a Silver Card challenge. If you hold Gold status or above with another airline, you’ll be eligible for the Gold Card challenge.
The Hainan Airlines website also says that “bank-issued platinum or higher grade credit card holders” are eligible for this challenge. But no further information is provided about what this actually means.
If you’re eligible, you can request a Hainan status challenge by sending an email to [email protected]. Include in the email a scanned copy of your current airline membership card with your status clearly showing, as well as the following information:
- Fortune Wings Club member number
- Current Fortune Wings Club status
- Name of the airline with which you currently hold status
- Requested challenge level (Silver or Gold)
- Specify whether you would like an upgrade to Silver status if you request a Gold Challenge but only earn enough to meet the Silver challenge
- Date of application
- Requested challenge start date
How to Complete a Hainan Airlines Status Challenge
Here are the requirements for the Fortune Wings Club Elite Challenge:
- Silver challenge: Earn 6 Status Qualifying Segments (SQS) or 9,000 Status Qualifying Points (SQP) within 100 days
- Gold challenge: Earn 12 Status Qualifying Segments (SQS) or 15,000 Status Qualifying Points (SQP) within 100 days
The qualifying points or sectors can be earned during the 100-day challenge period on any of the following Fortune Wings Club partner airlines:
- Hainan Airlines
- Grand China Airlines
- Hong Kong Airlines
- Lucky Airlines
- Capital Airlines
- Fuzhou Airlines
- Suparna Airlines
- GX Airlines
- Urumqi Air
- Alaska Airlines
- Virgin Australia
Interestingly, flights on Virgin Australia count towards the Hainan status challenge. However, points are only earned for Virgin Australia domestic flights, trans-Tasman flights and flights to/from Hong Kong. Here are the earn rates as per the Hainan website:
With Fortune Wings Club, earn rates are based on the distance of the flight in kilometres (not miles, as is normally the case). As an example, a one-way Virgin Australia flight from Melbourne to Hong Kong via Sydney in Business Class would earn 16,156 Status Qualifying Points and be enough to qualify for the Gold Challenge. (The direct Melbourne-Hong Kong flight unfortunately earns just under the required 15,000 points.) The same trip to Hong Kong would be enough to qualify for a Gold Challenge if flying on a round-trip Economy Freedom fare.
Once you’ve qualified for a challenge, you’ll receive the benefits of that status for 13 months. You won’t be able to complete a new challenge for another 3 years if you’re successful. However, you can request a new challenge if you start but don’t complete one.
Full terms and conditions of the Fortune Wings Club Elite Challenge are available on the Hainan Airlines website.
Benefits of Fortune Wings Club Status
Fortune Wings Club Gold status comes with various benefits when flying with Hainan Airlines or any of the other 9 Chinese airlines participating in the program. There are also a range of benefits available when flying with Alaska Airlines or – most importantly for Australians – Virgin Australia. The full benefits are outlined on Hainan’s website.
The arrangements with Alaska Airlines allow Gold members to access the Alaskan Board Room lounges Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland or Anchorage when connecting on Alaska Airlines to/from a same-day Hainan Airlines flight. (This is similar to the arrangement for Qantas Club members when flying with Alaska Airlines.)
The benefits with Virgin Australia are significantly better. Gold members with Fortune Wings Club receive lounge access, priority check-in, priority boarding and complimentary additional baggage allowance when flying Virgin Australia on a domestic flight or to Hong Kong. The benefits also apply (except for lounge access) when flying to/from New Zealand on Virgin Australia. Meanwhile, Silver members receive priority check-in on international flights and an extra bag when flying with Virgin Australia.
If you’re after a shortcut to some of the benefits of Gold status when flying Virgin Australia, this could be for you. Of course, the Hainan Airlines status challenge would also be beneficial if you regularly fly to or within China.