‘Sweetspot’: Fly Virgin Australia to Queenstown in business for just 13,800 miles!

Virgin Australia has today resumed services to Queenstown, opening back up a lucrative flight redemption sweetspot that it pays to know about.

Through an ongoing airline tie-up, it’s possible to book Virgin Australia award flights using the Etihad Guest frequent flyer program – usually for significantly fewer points than you’d pay via Velocity itself!

The Sydney to Queenstown route – one of three routes Virgin Australia has relaunched this week – is a case in point.

To book a reward seat on this service via Velocity Frequent Flyer, members will need to fork out 17,800 Velocity Points in economy or 35,500 Velocity Points in business. There’s also a hefty carrier surcharge of $177.10 levied for both options (making Velocity’s current return economy sale price of $409 on this service look quite attractive!):

va queenstown screenshot

However, the miles outlay for this route when booked via Etihad Guest is significantly lower.

An economy seat is bookable for just 6,900 Etihad Guest miles, but it’s the business reward seat that represents the real sweet spot here. The cost comes in at just 13,800 miles – that’s a significant saving, and almost one third the points/miles cost of Velocity!

Carrier surcharges are still levied when booking this redemption via Etihad Guest, the amounts are likely to be similar to those charged by Velocity Frequent Flyer.

Of course, there are a range of other well-priced flight redemptions that could tempt travellers to amass a stack of Etihad Guest miles, and they can be viewed in the Velocity Redemption Table chart housed on the Etihad Guest website.

etihad guest velocity table

Bear in mind that the redemption route information listed in the table isn’t entirely up to date (some discontinued regional routes are still displaying, and the Melbourne – Queenstown service that commences on 3 November isn’t listed). However, the miles redemption rates are current – as I confirmed when I spoke with an Etihad Guest customer service rep earlier today.

How to book Virgin Australia award seats via Etihad Guest

Somewhat frustratingly, Virgin Australia award flights aren’t searchable or bookable via the Etihad Guest website. Instead, you’ll need to search for award availability via the Velocity website, and then contact the Etihad Guest customer service line to lock in your redemption.

The process is relatively straightforward and shouldn’t take too long – simply call the Etihad Guest service line on +61 130 053 2215, select from the menu options and clearly state that you wish to make a points booking.

Once you’re assigned to a representative, you’ll be prompted to provide the necessary information needed to lock in your redemption.

While there’s no guarantee that Etihad Guest inventory access will mirror what’s shown on the Velocity website, I tested out three different business class redemption routes this morning, and availability was on offer via Etihad Guest for each one.

Joining Etihad Guest

Like many airline loyalty programs, joining Etihad Guest is free. Simply head to the Etihad Guest website and sign up.

etihad join image

Follow the prompts to register, and complete the email activation process. You’ll then be assigned your Etihad Guest membership number, ready to start earning and redeeming miles.

How to earn Etihad Guest miles in Australia

While there is currently no direct Etihad Guest branded card in Australia, it’s surprisingly easy for Australians to earn into the Etihad Guest loyalty program.

In Australia, the flexible American Express Membership Rewards points currency offers direct transfers to the program, at a transfer rate of 2 Membership Rewards Points to 1 Etihad Guest mile.

You can view the range of cards linked to American Express Membership Rewards by clicking our link.

Once you’ve amassed your stack of Etihad Guest miles, it’s then a relatively easy process to redeem them for Virgin Australia-operated flights over the phone.

Will you be taking advantage of this trans-Tasman sweetspot?

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