Travelling to the USA is easy with Velocity Points. Velocity Frequent Flyer counts several airline partners among its ranks that offer direct flights between Australia and North America. And beyond that, several other carriers which can also whisk you to the United States.
Wherever you’re headed, here’s a look at your key airline choices when spending Velocity Points on flights to the US.
Using Velocity Points to book United Airlines to the USA
The easiest and most popular way to spend Velocity Points on flights to the USA is with United Airlines. United is Virgin Australia’s largest Stateside partner, offering seven direct routes from Australia.
Through Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston, United can also fly you to cities across the United States. Here’s a look at how many Velocity Points you’d need for a direct Australia-USA flight. We also highlight how many Velocity Points you’d need to venture as far as New York on the US east coast, via one of United’s key hubs.
|United Airlines routes (one-way)||Economy Class||Business Class|
|Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Los Angeles or San Francisco||44,800 Velocity Points||95,500 Velocity Points|
|Sydney to Houston||54,800 Velocity Points||111,500 Velocity Points|
|Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to New York (via LAX, SFO or IAH)||59,800 Velocity Points||127,500 Velocity Points|
United is usually very generous with reward seat availability for travel in Economy Class. In my experience, most flights on most days will typically have reward seats available between Australia and the USA. Internal flights can be a little more restrictive, especially through hubs and at peak times, but not impossible if you plan ahead.
It’s more difficult, but not impossible, to find Business Class reward seats across the Pacific. The usual strategies of planning ahead and being flexible can assist greatly in finding something suitable.
Just note, of the routes above, Brisbane-Los Angeles begins in December 2023. Sydney-Houston is also a seasonal service, typically running over the busier Australian summer months. Or in airline speak, the ‘Northern Winter’ scheduling period.
Flying to the USA with Hawaiian Airlines via Velocity Points
Velocity’s other key partner in the USA is Hawaiian Airlines. For Australian travellers, Hawaiian has a much smaller footprint with only one route Down Under. But on the flipside, the carrier offers a whole host of flights from Honolulu onwards to points across the continental United States.
Here’s a look at how you could book those direct Honolulu flights using Velocity Points. We also show how many points you’d need to fly to a few other key cities from Australia via Honolulu.
|Hawaiian Airlines routes (one-way)||Economy Class||Business Class|
|Sydney to Honolulu||42,000 Velocity Points||78,000 Velocity Points|
|Sydney to Los Angeles or San Francisco (via Honolulu)||56,000 Velocity Points||104,000 Velocity Points|
|Sydney to New York (via Honolulu)||75,000 Velocity Points||139,000 Velocity Points|
The biggest drawback in using Velocity Points with Hawaiian Airlines is that you’ll need to call Velocity to book. Hawaiian Airlines reward flights don’t appear on the Velocity website. But you can use tools like ExpertFlyer to locate premium cabin reward seats open for booking to Hawaiian’s partners – Velocity included.
Although this guide is about spending Velocity Points, remember that Amex Membership Rewards points can now also be converted directly into HawaiianMiles. HawaiianMiles members get greater reward seat availability on Hawaiian Airlines than is available for Velocity members to book. Hawaiian Airlines reward flights can also be booked online using HawaiianMiles. To avoid confusion though, Velocity Points cannot be converted into HawaiianMiles.
Jet to the USA on Air Canada using Velocity Points
Hang on, you want me to fly via Canada, we hear you ask? Actually, yes – and it’s a fabulous way to go. Velocity’s partner Air Canada offers a surprisingly solid path for flights between Australia and the United States. In between, passengers simply transit at the airline’s Vancouver hub.
If you’re US-bound, you’ll even clear United States passport control on the ground in Vancouver. In fact, when you have a checked bag, you don’t need to collect it in transit, either – as you would when flying through other ports like Los Angeles. Then when you land in the US on your connecting flight, you’ll walk straight off the plane – free to waltz straight out of the airport.
How about flying home from the USA to Australia? Air Canada makes it easy too. Your bag gets checked all the way through, and you’ll start with a quick hop up to Vancouver. On the ground, you’ll be ushered through a side door into the departure lounge – no need to clear security again. From there, you’re ready to board your flight to Australia, or of course, hit the lounge beforehand.
Here’s what it costs in Velocity Points.
|Air Canada routes (one-way)||Economy Class||Business Class|
|Sydney or Brisbane to Vancouver|
Brisbane to Los Angeles or San Francisco (via Vancouver)
|56,000 Velocity Points||104,000 Velocity Points|
|Sydney to Los Angeles or San Francisco (via Vancouver)||65,000 Velocity Points||121,000 Velocity Points|
|Sydney or Brisbane to New York-Newark (via Vancouver)||75,000 Velocity Points||139,000 Velocity Points|
Even more ways to visit the United States with Velocity Points
The United States is a very popular destination for Australian travellers. So if you’re having trouble finding reward seats to suit your plans, it pays to know your other options too. Fortunately, Velocity has even more partners that offer flights to the USA. With these options though, there are some drawbacks.
For one thing, the journey may take longer than the more convenient routes direct between Australia and the US or via Canada. A longer journey means a greater distance travelled – and between some city pairs, this means parting with more points than flying direct. As well, carrier charges apply on some of these partners, which increases the amount to be paid in dollars in addition to the points.
Still, here are some extra options to consider.
- Singapore Airlines via Singapore. From Australia, Singapore Airlines serves Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Cairns and Darwin. And then from its Singapore hub, you could fly non-stop to places like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle – or even straight to New York, on the world’s longest flight. Bookable online using Velocity Points.
- Etihad Airways via Abu Dhabi. Etihad flies from Sydney and Melbourne to its Abu Dhabi hub. Abu Dhabi also offers US Preclearance – the same amenity as found in Vancouver, meaning you clear US passport control before your US-bound flight. From there, fly straight into Chicago or New York. Bookable online.
- Qatar Airways via Doha. Along with Sydney and Melbourne, Qatar also serves Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. While Doha doesn’t have US Preclearance, Qatar offers a formidable network of flights into the USA. On the roster, biggies like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York to start. Add to that, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Miami, Seattle and Washington D.C. Bookable online with Velocity.
- All Nippon Airways (ANA) via Tokyo. Velocity’s latest partner airline also flies to the US. Booking with ANA is more complicated, as it’s only possible over the phone with Velocity. Add to that, Tokyo has two key airports, with ANA’s Sydney flights using Haneda and the airline’s Perth services using Narita. From the latter, ANA serves Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Out of Haneda, there’s Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C.
- One last option, Virgin Atlantic. This doesn’t help if you’re flying solely from Australia to the USA. But if you’ll already be visiting the UK, keep Virgin Atlantic in your back pocket. As the name suggests, the airline specialises in flying across the Atlantic Ocean – largely between London and the USA. You could even snag a one-way Upper Class flight for just 49,500 Velocity Points (Heathrow to JFK), but you’ll have to call Velocity to book.
We do miss the days when Virgin Australia would run its own flights to Los Angeles. But even with those routes no longer in Virgin’s own map, it remains possible to use Velocity Points to reach LA and even further afield. For that matter, the recent expansion of Virgin Australia’s partner airlines opens new doors using Velocity Points that weren’t available before.
No doubt, the simplest way to fly to the USA using Velocity Points is with a North American airline. But when it’s tough to get a reward seat to suit, don’t forget about Velocity’s other partners. In fact, don’t rule out Air Canada either.
Case in point. Earlier this year, I found myself in San Francisco, needing to get home to Brisbane. I could have booked a direct United flight straight to Brisbane. But on the day I’d need to depart, only Economy Class reward seats were available via Velocity. But departing SFO on the same evening, Air Canada had a simple option from San Francisco to Brisbane via Vancouver – in Business Class. Clearly, a good trade-off.
However you get to the United States, don’t forget your ESTA!
All images courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels.
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