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Virgin Australia business class – How many seats can you actually get?

Ever since September of 2012 when Delta stopped collecting fuel surcharges on Virgin Australia award flights, using Delta miles for VA flights has been one of the best and easiest ways to get premium cabin award travel to Australia and New Zealand, particularly for families. We just got done booking our own trip (can’t wait!) but I noticed a really odd thing that I thought I’d share. Especially useful for large families or groups, there might very well be even MORE award availability than you think!

Since Delta improved (some) functionality of their award booking engine, it has become a lot easier to see what is available. VA is consistently opening 5 business class seats EVERY DAY from Los Angeles to both Brisbane and Sydney. Crazy good, right? Sure, unless you need 6 seats. Or 8 or 10.

5 seats every day LAX-SYD nonstop.

5 seats every single day LAX-SYD nonstop. The LAX-BNE calendar for 5 is identical.

5 seats were available every day BNE-LAX, only  remain on the 28th.

5 seats were available every day BNE-LAX, none remain on the 28th. Australian departure taxes are almost as bad as LHR , and even worse for short flights.

A few more dates are booked up on the SYD-LAX routes - those that show 175K for the Delta flight instead.

A few more dates are booked up on the SYD-LAX routes – those that show 175K for the Delta flight instead. Again, all had 5 seats when the schedule opened.

So that’s it? 5 seats are available?

No! The really cool thing here is that we have four business class seats in both directions, and there are 5 more available seats on both of our flights! And I’m pretty sure we aren’t the only ones who have booked family trips for November and early December.

As far as I can tell, VA is releasing at least 9 business class seats on every one of these flights, maybe even more! With both of our one-way flights, tickets were issued within minutes of booking but 5 more seats were released instantly. So Virgin’s computers seem to be programmed not only to release 5 seats, but to keep 5 seats open at least until a certain number of seats sell!

So, to book your 6 or 8 or 10 tickets, if you’ve been collecting Delta miles:

  • If possible, be ready to jump as soon as the calendar opens. Someone else may also be looking for your preferred date and book enough seats to keep you from getting as many as you need.
  • Book 5 tickets. Make sure you get at least one adult on each reservation!
  • Immediately book the rest, or cancel the initial 5 if the rest don’t open up within 24 hours.

If you are only able to collect enough miles to get business class for one way, I’d definitely use it for the trip down there that leaves at 9:00 or 11:00 PM, rather than the return which leaves Australia early in the morning. We’ve done SAT-DFW-LAX-SYD and CHC-AKL-LAX-SAT in coach and I’d definitely do both again if that’s what it took to get the kids down there!

Scenery of Australia and New Zealand. As I recall they have some cities and other stuff too.

Scenery of Australia and New Zealand. As I recall they have some cities and other stuff too.

Actually getting to LAX to connect to your VA flight on the same award? Good luck! Delta award availability on some long-haul flights has improved, but domestic seats are still hard to come by. We’ll be positioning with Southwest, the same as we’d have to if we were using Alaska miles on Cathay Pacific. The Cathay route, however, involves an extra 8-10 hours of flying. Also many of those HKG-Australia flights don’t have business class award seats – I think I’d go for a 16 hour Qantas coach flight rather than that. The one advantage with AS miles on CX would be the free stopover in Hong Kong, which could turn into a stopover anywhere in S.E. Asia for a few thousand Avios.

Of course you’re getting a map!

Red routes from BNE, Blue from SYD, Green require two stops. Click map for the full map and city pairs from Great Circle Mapper.

Red routes from Brisbane, Blue from Sydney, Green require an additional stop coming from LAX. Click for the full map with city pairs from Great Circle Mapper.

Also within the same region for Delta awards and served by Virgin Australia

  • Christmas Island (does not come up on Delta.com search)
  • Cocos Islands (does not come up on Delta.com search)
  • Rarotonga, Cook Islands (served only from Aukland, does not come up on Delta.com search)
  • Fiji
  • Port Vila, Vanuatu (does not come up on Delta.com search)
  • Honiara, Solomon Islands
  • Tonga (does not come up on Delta.com search)

Are you aiming for Australia or New Zealand and trying to get a seat you can stretch out in for the 14+ hour flight? It might take planning ahead and a whole boatload of miles, but it can definitely be done, even for a large family or group. Hopefully this post can be helpful to some other family also looking to travel to summer next winter!

– Kenny

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • James from BNA January 11, 2015, 8:32 am

    How did you get 600k+ Delta miles?

    • Kumar January 11, 2015, 11:47 am

      May be “In Sun we trust” + Amex Delta?

      • Kumar January 11, 2015, 11:52 am

        + Amex MR..

        • Kenny January 11, 2015, 12:10 pm

          All of the above. ST got us most of what we needed for the initial goal – one way on VA. Timely 50, 75 and 100k offers on Delta and MR cards made the return possible.

  • Rapid Travel Chai January 18, 2015, 2:32 am

    Delta Southwest Pacific region is a pain. Some of the destinations like Christmas and Cocos do not have published fares from the US so the award only gets you to Perth, then they charge you the price of a new award from there, even if the same ticket. Under the old chart they priced Australia domestic trips according to the chart and stuff intra-region at higher rates with a weasel footnote on the chart that they could do so. So, Perth-Christams Island was 80k roundtrip in economy (no business class). I have not re-checked under the 2015 charts. I canceled my trip last fall because I did not get luck of the draw on the annual crab migration, so will try again this year.

  • Jae February 25, 2015, 8:29 pm

    I did not need tickets for a family as there were just two of us, but we just redeemed 320k SkyPesos for 2 RTs in Business Class on Virgin Australia and thoroughly enjoyed it. We did LAX-SYD-CNS-BNE-LAX on one award ticket. Have a great trip!

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