Historically Virgin Australia has had amazing business class award availability to Australia. That’s been probably the best overall use of Delta Skymiles — searchable online, and without fuel surcharges — since Australia awards and especially during high season are one of the holy grails of mileage redemption.
Space has been cyclical — 4 seats every day, then nothing, then wide open again. But will the space come back?
Virgin Australia is cancelling their Los Angeles – Melbourne flight effective right as United starts up theirs.
The North America – Australia and New Zealand route is served without a stopover in Tahiti or Fiji and without transiting Asia by:
- Virgin Australia
- Air Canada
- Air New Zealand
New Zealand awards are harder than Australia awards. Air New Zealand used to open up business class space 60 days out quite reliably. Now you will not get Air New Zealand business class awards. Pretty much ever.
Qantas used to fly to New Zealand. They used to fly from San Francisco. They’ve cut back on capacity, even as they’ve added Airbus A380 equipment out of Los Angeles and are adding it to their Dallas route.
Air Canada award space has existed from Vancouver to be sure but it’s not generous. And United is hit or miss, mostly miss.
As tough as it is to get award seats, and with a flight long enough that premium seats do sell, I’d expect that there’s not enough capacity in the market rather than too much despite having all of these competitors.
Still, Virgin Australia is a fast-growing entity in Australia but the least well known in the US market (despite a partnership with Delta, and competing with Delta to Sydney at the same time). Serving three routes from Los Angeles made them a large player.
Sydney is a bread and butter route. Brisbane is a shorter flight, and better for many connections as a result. Melbourne is too far south for most connections, and now facing competition from bigger players in the Los Angeles market Qantas and United.
It makes sense. The sheer number of award seats on Virgin Australia suggests they aren’t selling enough of their seats, some retrenchment was probably inevitable.
But with fewer seats, there could be fewer awards in our future. And the single best way to get from the US to Australia on points without transiting Asia could become far less reliable.