The Best Award Space Option to Australia Has Completely Dried Up

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For a few years, Virgin Australia Business Class award space to Australia has been a gimme. I would often find 12 Award Seats (half of which were Business) to Australia over Christmas and New Year’s on Virgin Australia flights. You can book Virgin Australia award space with Delta miles.

Economy award space on Virgin Australia flights is still widely available, but Business Class award space is almost completely gone on Virgin Australia’s two American routes, Los Angeles to Sydney and Brisbane. This is terrible news, and I don’t think it’s a glitch.

Current Award Space Picture

Virgin Australia is still generously releasing economy award space. I searched for two passengers on direct flights from Los Angeles to Sydney in economy during February.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.37.10 PM

Award space is available every day, and this is almost all Virgin Australia space, not space on Delta’s flight.
Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.37.16 PM

But search the same route on the same dates in Business Class, and you get this calendar. There is no Virgin Australia award space, which would show up at 80,000 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.37.33 PM That is a shocker because Virgin Australia Business Class space, as recently as a few weeks ago, was available nearly every day.

But this isn’t some glitch. If you search this week, you will see there is one day with Virgin Australia award space in Business Class.Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.38.06 PM

So the space can show up, but it just hasn’t been released by Virgin Australia on very many days.

It hasn’t even been released for next Summer, which is 11 months away and the Winter down under. Again no space:Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.38.55 PM I also searched the Los Angeles to Brisbane route, which I assume has less demand.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.39.48 PM

Again, the only Virgin Australia space I see is one day this week. Space is basically all gone on this route too.Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.39.51 PM

In fact, most of my Los Angeles to Brisbane searches returned not a calendar, but an error, because there was literally no award space on direct flights on that route.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.40.06 PM

For kicks, I checked Sydney to Abu Dhabi, and again there is not really any Business Class space on Virgin Australia. This seems to be a concerted effort to release basically no Business Class award space on their longhaul flat bed product.

I did find space between Sydney and Bali, but it is operated by a 737, which does not have longahul Business Class.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.42.48 PM

Just Blocking Space to Delta?

I thought maybe Virgin Australia was just blocking award space in Business Class to Delta miles, so I signed into my Virgin Australia Velocity account and searched there.

Every day I searched had results like this:

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.49.36 PM

It looks like Business Rewards (basically Saver Business Class award seats) are not being offered to Velocity members either.

Bottom Line

Virgin Australia went from a glut of award space in Business Class from the United States to Australia that you could book with Delta miles to basically none.

This is not a glitch, and this affecting even members of the Virgin Australia frequent flyer program. Hopefully this terrible trend reverses.

Right now there are NO good options for Business Class awards to Australia or New Zealand that don’t transit Asia. Qantas, Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Delta, American, and United are also very stingy with Business Class award space from North America to Australia and New Zealand.

Hat Tip to an email from Michael K. that made me investigate the drought of award space more systematically than I had been.

 


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13 COMMENTS

  1. This happens all the time with VA business class availability. Comes and goes in major waves. There’s always a chance that it’s permanent this time, but if historical trends are any indicator then the “normal” amount of space will return within a few weeks.

  2. I agree 100% with Diamond Vargas. VA Business show up and then is eliminated in waves with no rhyme or reason. Keep checking weekly and it eventually will show back up.

  3. I wonder if its related to the best ever credit card promotion that they had which gave 110 000 VA points for $349 fee. If there’s a glut of reward points hitting the market around now then that could be suppressing it.

    https://www316.americanexpress.com/iFormsSecure/un/iforms.do?cuid=emgmMgmee_en_AU&evtsrc=link&evttype=0&tkn=3C811750CCE9FD36C2F75A35E1ED3E13DA254381649DE621046C73B6FB0F93C1&mgmerSource=mgmerHub&MGMURN=AAAABgQbGhEXDw%3D%3D&CPID=999999484

  4. Scott
    This is almost certainly the result of VA’s new business class seats (better product and less seats). My guess is VA wants to see whether they can sell those seats rather than release award space at this time. I believe most of their aircraft will have the re-configured cabins by November of this year.

  5. Last week, I tried to use Alaska Air miles to book a premium seat from LAX to Sydney in late April 2016 via Fiji, using the trick that you had mentioned regarding Alaska airlines miles and stopovers using their partner awards. I found that I could get there via coach only, as the only Fiji Air seats between Fiji and Sydney were all in economy, although I could get the LAX to Sydney leg in business class. The Alaska partner rules for Fiji air ( which were determined by Fiji) do not allow travel in different classes on different legs of the same trip.

    My solution was to take the Seattle to LAX to Fiji Alaska/Fiji award in first class and business class using frequent flier miles, then I purchased my own Qantas ticket from Fiji to Sydney the business class for approximately $600. For the return trip, I was able to use Alaska miles to book Cathay Pacific from Sydney to Hong Kong in business class, Hong Kong to LAX in first class, then LAX to Seattle in Alaska first class.

  6. Hey Scott, I see that there’s still business class space connecting through Korea. I know Delta doesn’t allow stopovers, but do you think they’d be inclined to allow me to schedule a 23 hour connection if I went LAX – ICN – SYD?

  7. Hi Scott….continue to enjoy the blog. I checked VA space LAX-SYD/BNE/MEL for Jan/Feb/Mar in business just today and found virtually no availability through Skymiles, identical to what you reported Aug 19. Anything new that you’ve learned about this ongoing space drought?

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