In 2017, Virgin Australia launched a new codeshare partnership with Air Canada. At the time, Velocity members were hopeful that Air Canada could become a Velocity Frequent Flyer partner in the same way as Delta or Singapore Airlines. But this hasn’t quite been the case. So, what exactly does Velocity’s partnership with Air Canada entail?
Virgin Australia and Air Canada have only a limited codeshare partnership. Virgin Australia codeshares on just four Air Canada routes, from Los Angeles to Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. In return, Air Canada codeshares on a handful of Virgin Australia domestic and trans-Tasman routes.
Velocity Frequent Flyer members can earn Velocity points and (from 1 December 2018) status credits when flying on a Virgin Australia marketed flight operated by Air Canada. In practice, this allows Velocity members flying with Virgin Australia to Los Angeles to connect to an Air Canada flight to one of the four Canadian cities served under the codeshare agreement.
However, Velocity points and status credits cannot be earned if you’re booked on an Air Canada “AC” flight number. And, even if you’re booked on a “VA” codeshare, you won’t receive any of the benefits of Velocity Silver, Gold or Platinum status. This includes lounge access, which is not offered when flying on an Air Canada codeshare. It’s also not possible to redeem Velocity points for Air Canada flights.
It’s a similar arrangement for Air Canada’s frequent flyers when travelling on a flight operated by Virgin Australia. Aeroplan miles, which count towards elite status qualification, can be earned when flying on an Air Canada codeshare flight operated by Virgin Australia. But this does not apply to flights with a “VA” flight number and Aeroplan status benefits are not honoured by Virgin Australia as it’s not a member of Star Alliance.
Virgin Australia’s website currently states, incorrectly, that status credits cannot be earned on VA codeshare flights operated by Air Canada. This used to be the case but changed in December last year.
For Velocity Frequent Flyer members, the Air Canada codeshares are better than nothing at all. But the partnership is of limited use as it only covers four Canadian destinations to/from Los Angeles, and Velocity status benefits aren’t honoured. In that sense, it’s similar to Qantas’ codeshare partnership with KLM, except that eligible Qantas frequent flyers can at least use the lounge when travelling on KLM from Singapore to Amsterdam.
Air Canada flies direct to Australia, serving Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne from Vancouver. Air Canada will also commence seasonal flights from Vancouver to Auckland later this year.
Qantas partners with Canada’s other major airline, Westjet. A key difference with the Qantas-Westjet partnership is that Qantas points can be earned on Westjet flights with a “WS” flight number, although status benefits including lounge access are not offered. Both points and status credits can be earned on Qantas codeshare services operated by Westjet. It’s also possible to redeem Qantas points for Westjet flights.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Air Canada Status Credit Earn