Virgin Adds Free Bags, Meals to New Zealand FlightsVirgin Australia has announced a host of improvements to its trans-Tasman and short-haul international flights. From 28 October, all Virgin passengers flying between Australia and New Zealand will receive a complimentary 23kg baggage allowance, meal and drink. There are also changes coming to the number of Velocity points and status credits earned for all short-haul international flights.

The changes apply from 28 October 2018, which is the same date that Virgin Australia will end its long-running partnership with Air New Zealand.

In addition to complimentary checked baggage and meals for trans-Tasman flyers, Virgin Australia is also rolling out in-flight wifi. 15 minutes of free wifi will be available to all passengers on Virgin Australia trans-Tasman flights, with additional time available for purchase. Virgin already offers complimentary in-flight entertainment via its streaming App to all passengers.

New Velocity point & status credit earn rates from 28 October 2018

New Velocity point and status credit earn rates will apply to all Virgin Australia trans-Tasman and short-haul international bookings made from 1 August 2018, for travel after 28 October 2018. This includes all flights to New Zealand, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. The changes do not apply to Virgin Australia flights to Hong Kong and Los Angeles, or flights on partner airlines.

The amount of Velocity points earned for these flights will now be based on the ticket price, rather than miles flown. The new earn rate will be 5 Velocity points per dollar – the same rate that is applied to domestic flights. Silver, Gold and Platinum Velocity members will continue to earn 50%, 75% or 100% bonus points, respectively.

We’ve done the maths, and you’ll almost certainly earn more Velocity points after the changes take effect.

There are also changes to Velocity status credit earn rates. Here is the old status credit earning table for international flights flown prior to 27 October 2018:

Velocity Status Credit Earn Rates until 27 October 2018
Velocity Status Credit Earn Rates until 27 October 2018

And here are the new earn rates for international short-haul flights from 28 October 2018:

Velocity Status Credit Earn Rates from 28 October 2018
Velocity Status Credit Earn Rates from 28 October 2018

Under the new earn rates, all trans-Tasman flyers will earn either the same or more Velocity status credits. As an example, passengers flying from Brisbane to Auckland on a Getaway fare will now earn 20 instead of 15 status credits. Business Class earn rates are also now separated into “Business Saver” and “Business”.

The new earn rates are significantly higher on routes between 2,500km and 3,000km in length including Sydney-Denpasar, Brisbane-Denpasar and Sydney-Apia.

Virgin Australia is becoming a fierce competitor across the Tasman

The loss of its Air New Zealand partnership was undoubtedly a blow to Virgin. But the airline has responded by adding new flights and improving its product. Several new Virgin Australia trans-Tasman routes will launch later this year. These include Sydney-Wellington, Melbourne-Queenstown and Newcastle-Auckland flights. Additional frequencies are also being added to some existing routes. The improved Velocity earning rates are another bonus for Virgin Australia passengers flying to New Zealand.

Virgin Australia also announced yesterday that it will codeshare on Singapore Airlines’ Melbourne-Wellington flights from 28 October. Singapore Airlines flies this route 4x weekly with Boeing 777-200s.

Until now, Virgin has had to offer the same low-cost service model across the Tasman as Air New Zealand. The end of this is good news for flyers. By comparison, Air New Zealand charges extra for just about everything on its flights to Australia.

Apparently they were unable to offer all these improvements with ANZ. They had to bring their product more in line with ANZ’s Seat and Extras offering. Now they can do as they please.

Huge Plus. If Virgin were to open a AKL/CHC Lounge, this would really put them in a market leading offering across the Tasman. NZ have a garbage FF program and trans Tasman narrow body product isn’t much different from JQ. Essentially a seat + extras fare.

An announcement about which airport lounges will be available to Gold and Platinum Velocity members flying to New Zealand will be made in “the coming months”. Access is currently available to Air New Zealand’s lounges, but this will almost certainly change from 28 October.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Trans-Tasman and International Short Haul update – from 28th October 2018

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]