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Aeroplan Adds Partnership with Virgin Australia!

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.

The partnership officially launched on January 19, and Virgin Australia flights are now live and bookable in the search engine.

 

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!

There are plenty more sweet spots to find, and I’d encourage you to play around with FlightConnections and Great Circle Mapper to plan out a few dream redemptions in a post-COVID world!

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.

Virgin Australia A330 business class, discontinued

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.

Virgin Australia 737 business class

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).

Conclusion

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!

8 Comments
  1. Avatar
    BigG

    Quick question an another Aeroplan point to Ricky or anyone else. Is there any other way then paying for airfare to earn Aeroplan SQD? I have no problem earning even 50 SQS through credit card spend but my AC flying is mostly on points so trying to find a way to satisfy the SQD component of status qualification above 25k. Any advice greatly appreciated .

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      It’s mostly paying for airfare. You could also buy a Flight Pass or buy Aeroplan points through a promotion where there is a designated SQD component (which has happened once in the past).

  2. Avatar
    John

    As somebody who travels to Australia regularly, this is a game changer. It opens up all sorts of destinations such as Ayers Rock, Great Barrier Reef, Fiji, Queenstown, and much more.

    I agree with Adele about games that Air Canada is playing. You can’t book a one way economy flight to Sydney, Australia for December 16, but you can book premium economy for a mere 254,000 points of you can splurge for a one way business class ticket of 354,000 points. All the points to Sydney for December are still royally screwed up.

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Air Canada’s flights to Australia are carefully capacity-controlled at the moment due to the uncertainty about when the country will open up. I don’t think economy seats are being sold for cash either, and premium economy and business class seats are also super expensive if purchased with cash. I’d definitely expect more “normal” pricing to be back once Australia’s borders reopen.

      1. Avatar
        John

        I sure hope so. You can use aeroplan to book economy seats from Air New Zealand, JAL, or Asiana flights to Australia for 60,000 aeroplan points.

  3. Avatar
    Eric

    I don’t think the 90000 Aeroplan points include the stay at the St. Regis, does it?
    People might get confused if you say “Vancouver to Melbourne for a couple of weeks of caffeinated indulgence, followed by a flight up to Bali for some tropical adventures and a stay at the St. Regis, all for 90,000 Aeroplan points?”

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      Fair point – rephrased.

  4. Avatar
    Adele

    I’d be curious to see how quickly these obscure destinations become actually searchable/bookable on Aeroplan. I feel like Air Canada is playing some games with us on some of the more interesting redemptions.

    Being a Nunavut fan, I’m still waiting for the full flight network of Canadian North to show up in the search results. They also play some “married segments” games where if I search, for example, for YYZ-YFB, it finds availability with a connection in Ottawa, as expected. But if I try for YOW-YFB, the direct flight does not show up, instead it gives me a roundabout routing through Edmonton, for a lot more points, obviously.

Ricky

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