The Tasman route just got a lot more competitive, with Virgin Australia unveiling a suite of enhancements for travellers to New Zealand, including WiFi, “a substantial meal and drink” in all fares and a generous baggage allowance for all.

Virgin and Air New Zealand will end their trans-Tasman alliance in October this year following seven years of partnership. The sparring began recently – in the beef field, oddly enough. See: The duel is on! Trans-Tasman airline battle of beef

Now the contest is underway in earnest.

From 28 October, all Virgin Australia travellers flying to Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown, Wellington and Dunedin will receive:

  • A substantial meal and drink included in all fares;
  • At least 23kg of baggage included in all fares;
  • WiFi on all flights including 15 minutes of complimentary access; and
  • Increased Velocity Frequent Flyer Points and Status Credits earn potential.

The initiatives will have much appeal for Tasman travellers. You can fly the Tasman on Air New Zealand and receive virtually nothing to eat unless you buy it (depending on the fare you choose) so Virgin’s offer is attractive.

Air NZ also offers cheap fares which restrict passengers to carry-on bags rather than hold baggage. Virgin will include 23kg of baggage (standard weight of a single suitcase in the hold) in all of its fares.

Virgin Australia group executive Rob Sharp said the airline would provide an even better product and service for guests travelling to New Zealand.

“Last year, 1.5 million Australians flew to New Zealand and we’re looking forward to making their trip across the ditch even more enjoyable with a meal and drink as well as WiFi so they can keep connected whilst in the sky,” he said.

“We’re committed to expanding our presence in New Zealand with new services including flights from Sydney to Wellington; Melbourne to Queenstown; and Newcastle to Auckland as well as extra flights to Auckland, all of which commence in the next couple of months.”

Virgin Australia has also arranged code-shares with Singapore Airlines on flights between Melbourne and Wellington, for travel from 28 October. The flights, operated by Singapore Airlines, will operate four times per week and will allow Virgin Australia customers to seamlessly connect their travel and baggage onto other destinations and enable Velocity members to earn points and status credits.

Virgin Australia’s loyalty program, Velocity Frequent Flyer, has also announced new benefits for members travelling to short-haul international destinations such as New Zealand, Bali, Fiji, and Samoa.

From 28 October, Velocity members will now be awarded a minimum of five Points per dollar spent1 on fares to and from New Zealand. Platinum, Gold and Silver members will continue to earn a Points Bonus meaning that Platinum Velocity members will now receive up to 10 Points per dollar spent.

Velocity Frequent Flyer chief executive, Karl Schuster said Velocity members would for the first time earn Points per dollar spent for short-haul international destinations, rather than based on the distance travelled.

“Members will earn more Velocity Points when travelling to these destinations and we believe our Points offer for New Zealand flights is one of the best,” he said.

“Members will also experience improved status credit earn to many short-haul international destinations including flights to and from New Zealand. This means members can achieve a higher Velocity status faster and unlock further membership benefits.”

Written by Peter Needham