After launching a brand-new program in 2020, Aeroplan has begun the new year with exciting news: as of January 19, 2021, Virgin Australia will be added as a new partner airline for Aeroplan members to earn and redeem points.
The Virgin Australia partnership follows Aeroplan’s additions of Etihad Airways, Azul Brazilian Airlines, Vistara, and Air Serbia to their growing network of international partner airlines, all while addressing what was previously a major geographic weakness in Aeroplan’s global coverage. Let’s take a look at all the details.
Redeem Aeroplan Points on Virgin Australia
Similar to the previous partnerships, Aeroplan redemptions on Virgin Australia follows all of the principles set out by the new Aeroplan program:
- Virgin Australia flights will be priced based on Aeroplan’s pricing for partner airlines.
- Members will be able to book Virgin Australia flights online and over the phone.
- Virgin Australia flights can be combined with flights operated by Air Canada and other international airline partners.
- A $39 partner booking fee will apply.
Since the partnership launches on January 19, that’s the date on which I’d expect Virgin Australia redemptions to be available on the Aeroplan website.
Before we look at the points prices, let’s take a peek at Virgin Australia’s route network. While the airline had previously offered long-haul transpacific flights to the United States, financial troubles as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have left it with a much more streamlined route network concentrating on Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific.
Aeroplan members will be able to book seamless onward connections from Air Canada’s services from Vancouver to Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne onwards to other parts of Australia, all on one ticket.
Moreover, Virgin Australia makes some of the South Pacific islands, like the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, and Samoa, much more accessible on Aeroplan points than before.
Virgin Australia’s routes to Bali, Indonesia are also looking very interesting, allowing for a straightforward stopover in Australia on your way to South East Asia.
Indeed, the direct link between Bali and Australia is very welcome for journeys involving both destinations. Previously, one would have to transit via Singapore, adding precious distance to their journey under the new distance-based award charts.
Finally, as someone who’s interested in visiting remote destinations around the world, I’m also particularly intrigued by Virgin Australia’s twice-weekly service from Perth to Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
I’ll definitely be seeking out a journey on this unique route once the pandemic subsides and we can travel down under once again.
How many Aeroplan points will these redemptions cost? Well, remember that travelling from North America to the Pacific zone for less than 11,000 miles flown is one of the best sweet spots under Aeroplan’s Flight Reward Chart.
If you can snag a seat on one of the transpacific direct flights to Australia, then virtually the entire continent opens up within that 11,000-mile threshold, meaning you can fly it for 85,000 Aeroplan points.
Don’t forget that you can add a stopover at the intermediate point for an additional 5,000 Aeroplan points. How does this sound: Vancouver to Melbourne for a couple of weeks of caffeinated indulgence, followed by a flight up to Bali for some tropical adventures, all for 90,000 Aeroplan points?
Headed to the South Pacific? Brisbane will be your ideal jumping-off point, allowing for starting points as far east as Winnipeg without overshooting the 11,000-mile threshold.
And just for fun: East Coast Canadians, don’t feel left out from the “Asia 3” sweet spot action.
Once Air Canada’s St. John’s–London service returns in the future, you could take advantage of Virgin Australia’s unique route between Bali and Western Australia, sneaking in just under the 11,000-mile threshold while adding a Big Lap of Australia road trip to the end of your South East Asia getaway.
There are sweet spots aplenty within the Pacific zone too.
Going back to the unique Christmas Island route, this is a flight that costs $700–900 (CAD) one-way if paid with cash, so the ability to book it for only 12,500 Aeroplan points is an incredible deal!
In terms of Virgin Australia’s onboard product, unfortunately, the pandemic has forced the airline to trim down its Airbus A330 fleet, which previously offered lie-flat seats on both domestic and international routes. I had actually flown this product back in November 2019 and had a great experience.
The airline currently offers service only on Boeing 737 aircraft, which means that the business class cabin is limited to recliner seats across the network. Hopefully the airline will find its feet after the pandemic and be able to ramp up their product again, but it’ll likely take several years before that recovery can take shape.
Earn Aeroplan Points on Virgin Australia
As part of the new partnership, passengers who fly on Virgin Australia may also credit their flights to Aeroplan and earn Aeroplan points, according to the following earnings chart:
Moreover, for Virgin Australia flights wholly within Australia, Aeroplan members can earn Status Qualifying Miles (SQM) and Status Qualifying Segments (SQS), as well as Status Qualifying Dollars (SQD) if the flight is ticketed by Air Canada (for example, on a paid codeshare fare from Canada to Perth, with the latter leg on Virgin Australia).
As the program’s leadership had promised, Aeroplan continues to add new partner airlines to its network in order to boost the value of the program for Aeroplan members.
Aeroplan’s partnership with Virgin Australia addresses a huge gap in terms of geographic coverage, greatly expanding the set of routing possibilities and attainable destinations in Australia and the South Pacific, with only room to grow in the future as Virgin Australia recovers from its business rescue efforts.
I think it’s fair to say that for many Aeroplan members, the reopening of Australia and New Zealand’s borders – and the safe restoration of worldwide travel in general – cannot come soon enough!