Virgin Australia will go head-to-head with rival Qantas and Cathay Pacific, with a high-quality Business Class product but less frequent flights than the other two carriers.
In this guide, we outline new Virgin Australia direct flights from Australia to Hong Kong and Mainland China and explain how to book award seats on these flights.
New Sydney to Hong Kong service starts mid-2018
Route, schedule and aircraft
Virgin Australia will fly daily from Sydney to Hong Kong beginning in the middle of this year (exact date not yet announced). Neither launch fares nor award availability is loaded onto the Virgin Australia website but I’ll keep an eye out and update this post when it shows up. I expect this to happen by mid-March.
This is in addition to the Melbourne flights, which started as five-weekly in July last year, then ramped up to daily frequency and will again scale back to five times a week when the Sydney flights start due to slot restrictions at Hong Kong Airport.
On the outbound, flights from both cities depart mid-morning and return overnight.
Virgin Australia employs Airbus A330s on these routes, featuring its upgraded ‘The Business’ suites, which launched in August 2015.
This aircraft features 20 lie-flat Business Class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration and 255 Economy Class seats.
Virgin Australia’s The Business suites on the A330
Virgin Australia’s The Business inflight entertainment system on the A330
Operating these services to Hong Kong and Mainland China will most likely continue to take some A330s away from existing routes between the East Coast capitals and Perth, as well as peak-period services to Nadi, i.e. seasonal Saturday services from Sydney and Melbourne.
Virgin Australia will be competing with Cathay Pacific’s four and Qantas’ two daily flights to and from Sydney.
Connections to other airports in Mainland China and Asia are made possible through Virgin Australia’s partnership with the two HNA Group airlines currently serving Hong Kong, namely full-service Hong Kong Airlines and low-cost HK Express.
And passengers bound for London can connect onto the Virgin Atlantic service.
How many points are needed?
|Frequent flyer program||One-way Business Class||One-way Economy Class|
If you don’t have access to KrisFlyer miles, in this case, it does not make sense to transfer your Velocity points to KrisFlyer for the lower redemption pricing.
Taxes are ~$85 AUD departing Australia and ~$75 AUD returning from Hong Kong, and should be the same through KrisFlyer and Velocity.
How do I search for and book an award seat?
If you cannot see availability for Virgin Australia flights under the Other partner airlines tab on the KrisFlyer website (due to this feature being progressively rolled out), then you can phone KrisFlyer to make your booking.
More on the Virgin Australia-Hainan Airlines relationship
Hainan is one of the world’s seven 5-star airlines, along with carriers such as ANA, Asiana, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, EVA Air, Garuda Indonesia, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines.
Virgin signed a bilateral agreement with Hainan Airlines, involving codesharing, reciprocal frequent flyer programs and shared lounge access. It is designed to capitalise on the growing Chinese inbound market and to funnel that traffic onto domestic VA flights.
A Hainan Airlines 787 Dreamliner
Back in 2016, Virgin Australia applied to the International Air Services Commission for permission to commence flights to Beijing, however, these plans have not yet eventuated.
If they do, travellers in Australia are likely to fly from Sydney or Melbourne to Beijing on a Virgin Australia flight and benefit from increased connectivity from Hainan’s secondary hub in Beijing (after Haikou) both within China and on services to North America and Western Europe.
Virgin Australia’s expansion into Hong Kong and Mainland China is an exciting development and will give Qantas and Cathay Pacific a run for their money.
These flights are served by an excellent Business Class product, however, due to the restriction of only one flight a day (at most) from each city, award availability may be hard to come by, so booking well in advance will help to increase your chances of securing a seat.
What is your take on Virgin Australia’s expansion into Hong Kong and Mainland China? Have you or do you plan to take one of these flights?
Supplementary images courtesy respective airlines.