Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

NOW LIVE: Earn and spend Avios with Virgin Australia

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There is great news for anyone planning a trip to or around Australia and New Zealand, as the Avios / Virgin Australia partnership is now live.

As of this week, you can now earn and spend Avios on Virgin Australia flights.

The deal has been struck with Qatar Airways, not British Airways, so you will need to have a Qatar Privilege Club account to take advantage of this.

Qatar Airways Virgin Australia partnership

As well as opening up flights across Australia and New Zealand, you can also travel internationally on Virgin Australia to Bali, Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

What have Qatar Airways and Virgin Australia agreed?

Qatar Airways – which adopted Avios as its loyalty currency earlier this year – and Virgin Australia have signed a wide ranging agreement. Benefits include:

  • You can earn Avios (in Qatar Privilege Club) when you fly with Virgin Australia
  • You can spend Avios (in Qatar Privillege Club) on Virgin Australia flights
  • If you have Qatar Airways elite status you can use Virgin Australia lounges
  • If you have Virgin Australia elite status you can use Qatar Airways lounges
  • Other elite benefits (extra baggage allowance, priority check-in, priority boarding and priority baggage delivery) will be offered on a reciprocal basis

How does this fit with Qantas and its oneworld alliance membership?

That’s a good question.

Qatar Airways and Qantas are, of course, both members of the oneworld alliance. You can already redeem Avios via Qatar Privilege Club (and of course British Airways Executive Club) for flights on Qantas and – whilst not bookable online on ba.com – QantasLink.

It is odd that there are no apparent competition concerns about Qatar Airways having partnerships with both Qantas and Virgin Australia. However, you can only earn status points in Qatar Privilege Club if your Virgin Australia flight has a QR flight number. Only Qantas flights earn Qatar Privilege Club status points under their own flight code.

Qatar Airways Virgin Australia partnership

Virgin Australia also has an existing partnership with Etihad, dating back to when Etihad was a shareholder in the airline. This deal appears to be continuing for now. It also works with Air Canada amongst others.

What makes the deal more palatable, politically, is that Qantas has a very close partnership with Emirates, which of course is not in the oneworld alliance. This is why you can earn British Airways Avios and tier points when flying Emirates as long as you book under a Qantas flight number.

At the end of the day, these bilateral deals are becoming more important than the airline alliances. Delta Air Lines, for example, has taken equity stakes in a number of airlines, including Virgin Atlantic, without making them join the SkyTeam alliance.

It is very possible that we have passed ‘peak’ airline alliance. One thing you didn’t see during coronavirus was a mad rush by the major unalligned airlines (Etihad, Emirates etc) to seek shelter by joining an alliance. If a global pandemic that devastates the industry isn’t going to convert the hold-outs, it isn’t clear what will.

How can I earn and spend Avios on Virgin Australia?

Before you can do anything, you will need to open a Qatar Privilege Club account and link it to your British Airways account via the instructions in this article.

This will allow you to:

  • move Avios from British Airways Executive Club to Qatar Privilege Club, in order to book Virgin Australia redemptions
  • move Avios from Qatar Privilege Club to British Airways Executive Club, in order to move Avios earned from flying Virgin Australia into your BA account

Transfers are 1:1 in both directions, and are instantaneous.

Earning Avios from Virgin Australia flights

This page of the Qatar Airways website shows the Avios earning rate for Virgin Australia flights. You need to look under the ‘Airlines’ tab and not the ‘oneworld’ tab.

You will earn Avios regardless of whether your Virgin Australia flight has a Qatar Airways or Virgin Australia flight number.

The earning rate is, by booking class:

  • Business (J, C, D) – 150% of miles flown
  • Economy Flex (Y, B, W, H, K, L) – 100% of miles flown
  • Economy Choice (R, E, O, N, V, P, Q, T, I, S) – 50% of miles flown
  • Economy Lite (M) – 25% of miles flown
  • Groups (G) – 50% of miles flown
  • Ineligible (X, Z, U)

Spending Avios on Virgin Australia flights

This page of the Qatar Airways website shows the Avios redemption rates for Virgin Australia flights. You need to look under the ‘Airlines’ tab and not the ‘oneworld’ tab.

Unfortunately, Qatar Airways Privilege Club is not the best programme in the world when it comes to booking redemptions on partners. Instead of booking online, you need to log in to your account and complete the partner award request form.

There is no way of checking availability before making a request. The best way to guess would be to create a Virgin Velocity account and search on the Virgin Australia site to see what reward availability the airline offers to its own members.

Qatar Airways has a standard distance based redemption chart for all of its airline partners:

Qatar Airways partner Avios redemptions

In an annoying quirk, you cannot book reward travel on Qatar Airways partner airlines if your booking includes an infant (under 2 years old).

Conclusion

Getting Virgin Australia into the Avios fold is a great result. It’s just a shame that virtually no UK Avios collectors, apart from HfP readers, will ever find out that this is now an option.

You can find out more about the new Virgin Australia Avios partnership on the Qatar Airways website here.


HFP-Barclaycard-Avios-Card

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (December 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (34)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Rob H not Rob says:

    We have a handful of Virgin Aistralia flights booked in Feb. What do we need to do / can we earn Avios on these existing booking?

    Our Qatar and BA accounts are already linked.

    • Rhys says:

      Use your Qatar membership number on the booking

    • Chris says:

      I used the Virgin Australia Manage Booking feature; used the Update My Details option and switched from Singapore Airlines to Qatar for a couple of flights this morning. Worked first time

  • SydneySwan says:

    The relationship between Qatar and Qantas is at a very low ebb. There have been a lot of problems with reward seats on Qatar booked using Qantas points and at various times Qatar seems to be offering much less award availability to Qantas members than say AA members.

    This is how Velocity introduced its new partnership with Qatar to its members in an email a few days ago;

    “Celebrate our new partnership with savings and rewards

    SydneySwan, from amster-gramming in the Netherlands to greek-ing out in Athens, Qatar Airways can get you there.

    You can now earn Points and Status Credits and redeem Points to 150+ destinations^ on award-winning1 Qatar Airways. Velocity Silver, Gold and Platinum members can also enjoy additional benefits when they fly.

    Plus, Velocity members can save up to $150 in Economy and up to $500 in Business Class on roundtrip tickets departing Australia using promo code VA500 for travel prior to 31 March 2023.

    Just travel from any of Qatar Airways’ six Australian gateways;
    Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide or Canberra.

    Offer ends 12 October 2022.”

    • Mikeact says:

      My ‘down under ‘ sons’ experience exactly. “Dad, do not rely on getting Virgin seats, painfully problematic. “

    • Charles Martel says:

      Indeed, oneworld looks like its fragmenting in the lucky country, Points Hack reported that Qatar are now using Air NZ lounges rather than Qantas in Australia. With so little co-operation within OW you start to wonder whether QF will bother staying in the alliance. It would also be interesting to know if QRs (partial) ownership of IAG is souring the QF-BA relationship.

  • Gary says:

    Has anyone managed to resolve the issue of merging BAEC & QPC with a hyphenated name?

    • Chabuddy Geezy says:

      My other half got rid of the hypen with BA, I think BA added it back later! I called the Qatar call centre this week who told me to get rid of the hypen with BA again…

    • Rob says:

      It is now fixed, according to multiple readers.

  • ediflyer says:

    The QR Avios redemption costs with VA look much more expensive than using BA Avios with QF! I guess OK if cash costs high and only availability with VA but doesn’t look great value for flights around Oz.

  • Peter says:

    “The best way to guess would be to create a Virgin Velocity account and search on the Virgin Australia site to see what reward availability the airline offers to its own members.”

    This is only an option if you’re resident in AU, NZ or some Pacific countries, right?

    • Sam says:

      Yes. They closed my account because I’m not a resident of those countries. I can’t understand why a frequent flyer program is only designed for native. Don’t they welcome tourists?

      • Rob says:

        BA banned Australians from BAEC until very, very recently.

        • Sam says:

          We are talking about the restriction of residence by VA ffp. VA doesn’t welcome anyone outside Oceania to become a member of Velocity.

          • QFFlyer says:

            Yes, and Rob is highlighting the fact that VA isn’t the only country to restrict its membership based on geography.

            In theory you (or anyone) could join Velocity using a random hotel address I suppose.

      • QFFlyer says:

        In fairness, it’s very difficult to earn Velocity points (other than via the not-so-favourable transfer from SQ) outside of the South Pacific region – as it would be, since nobody else is allowed to join anyway.

        • Sam says:

          I noticed the restriction when I tried to signup – then I wrote an Australian address with my US phone number. It was still banned in a short time.
          I won’t choose VA when I make a plan to Australia in the future – if they don’t welcome tourists.

  • G says:

    I’m going to Australia next year for three weeks; and I was intending to fly Qantas for avios. I’ll be flying internally between Melbourne/Brisbane and Sydney.

    Which is more efficient, from an avios perspective, for earning on lower economy class fares – Qantas or Virgin Australia?

    Whilst this is good news for people and opens up options. Am I correct in thinking that unless the price differential is extreme; Qantas remains the better option for me (and other oneworld status holders) as a BAEC Silver member when wanting to carry two suitcases with me, enjoy domestic business lounge access and get a peppercorn amount of tier points to boot?

    • Lyn says:

      Rob’s article says you can only earn avios on Virgin Australia flights with a Qatar flight number.

      Just a note re Qantas lounge terminology. They have separate domestic Qantas Club and Business lounges. Unless you are actually flying Qantas Business class within Australia, BAEC Silver you would give you access to the Qantas Club lounges. They are fine.

      • Lyn says:

        A reminder also that BA avios can be quite useful for domestic flights within Australia.

      • John says:

        BA Gold (OWE) gets access to QF domestic business which are pretty good. As I’d always been OWE on previous trips, I had never gone to a QC (known as Qantas Pubs) until my trip last month and I have to say that I prefer BA GC to them, there’s very little in the way of food and the drinks are just standard boring stuff.

      • QFFlyer says:

        Remember you can credit VA flights to SQ. The earn rates aren’t great, and they don’t count for elite miles, but it’s better than nothing.

  • FatherOfFour says:

    So Qantas (via BA reward booker) 6 Passengers one way BNE-MEL: 99,000 Avios + £141 (or similar pricing options)
    Route is 857 miles, so using the QR table above, points requirements alone would be 180,000 points + fees
    I’m sure there are sweet spots however

    • QFFlyer says:

      BA Zone 3 flights, like MEL-PER, MEL-DRW and MEL-New Zealand (or substitute MEL with other East coast airports, or flights of similar lengths) are great value compared to booking the same flight using QFF points – 22k or so Avios in J or 40k or so using QF points for the same flight.

  • VerdantBacon says:

    This is very interesting, I have VA Platinum and plenty of VA points and on the cusp of BAEC GGL with plenty of Avios. Now I have two ways to book QR reward flights, the double points rewards don’t look so bad now.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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