Back in January 2021, Aeroplan and Virgin Australia linked up to form a new partnership, in which Aeroplan members were able to earn and redeem points on Virgin Australia metal.
Like Aeroplan’s other non-Star Alliance partners, the relationship ended there: you weren’t able to access lounges, get additional baggage, or enjoy priority security when travelling with such partners.
One of these is changing as of today, as lounge access on Virgin Australia flights is now granted on the basis of Aeroplan Elite Status!
Lounge Access with Virgin Australia
As of September 7, 2022, Aeroplan 50K, Aeroplan 75K, and Aeroplan Super Elite members will now be granted access to Virgin Australia lounges when flying on a same-day ticket with Virgin Australia, regardless of the fare or class of service.
Using your Aeroplan Elite Status to access Virgin Australia lounges will work very similarly to accessing lounges within the Star Alliance network: having Star Alliance Gold will grant lounge access, while Star Alliance Silver will not. Similarly, Aeroplan 50K and above members have access to Star Alliance member lounges as an elite benefit even when travelling in economy class, and this will now apply to Virgin Australia.
In fact, for the purposes of lounge access, you can think of Virgin Australia as a Star Alliance member, as you’ll be able to bring one guest to the lounge with your Aeroplan Elite Status. Note that business class passengers aren’t typically allowed guests, while elite members are.
Virgin Australia lounges will complement existing Star Alliance lounges that Aeroplan 50K and above members already have access to in Australia, such as the lounges operated by Singapore Airlines or Air New Zealand.
Virgin Australia operates a lounge in the following airports:
- Gold Coast
- Perth (Terminal 1)
Personally, having lounge access when flying economy class could be enough to sway me to book domestic flights in Australia using 8,000 Aeroplan points (at the shortest distance band, which is the majority of flights between populous cities). Furthermore, I could add a stopover within Australia for an extra 5,000 points, bringing the total for two domestic flights to as few as 13,000 Aeroplan points.
This is approaching the same cost as the same flights booked with Avios, which might only cost 6,000 Avios on Qantas per flight – but without lounge access.
On another note, this lounge access agreement is reciprocal, so you can expect to see Virgin Australia Velocity Gold and Platinum members in Maple Leaf Lounges from now on.
A Refresher on Virgin Australia
As a reminder, Virgin Australia is an airline based in Brisbane that primarily flies domestic routes, with a few international options sprinkled in. You can think of them as the WestJet of Australia, flying mostly Boeing 737s around the country.
Pre-pandemic, Virgin Australia used to have Boeing 777s and Airbus A330s as well, which offered competitive lie-flat products. However, as a result of downsizing their operations due to the challenging past few years, these are no longer offered.
Bali, Indonesia now represents Virgin Australia’s primary international destination, with direct flights from Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne.
The airline currently operates Boeing 737-800, Boeing 737-700, Airbus A320, and Fokker 100 planes, but the the Boeing 737-800 represents 79% of their fleet. If you fly with Virgin Australia, you’ll most likely be on this aircraft.
The business class cabin is limited to recliner seats across the entire network in a 2-2 layout. Economy class is in a standard 3-3 configuration.
Speaking of hopping around Australia, flying between any of Brisbane, Cairns, Sydney, and Melbourne from Brisbane will cost a mere 8,000 Aeroplan points in economy class or 20,000 points in business class. The airline’s more exotic destinations like Vanuatu, Fiji, or Alice Springs will cost 12,500 points one-way in economy class, or 30,000 points in business class.
From now on, Aeroplan 50K and higher elite members will have access to Virgin Australia lounges, provided they have a same-day ticket with the airline in any class of service. You’ll also be permitted to bring a guest, which represents a lounge access policy closer to Star Alliance Gold than flying business class.
This is an excellent new perk for higher-tier Aeroplan Elite Status members who have upcoming travel plans to Australia.
The value-add here is significant, as none of Virgin Australia’s lounges belong to any third-party lounge network, so Aeroplan Elite Status is by far the easiest way to access these fancy spaces.