United Airlines and Virgin Australia’s new major partnership has taken off this week (May 24), with travellers the major winners in the global deal.

A launch event was held at Sydney Airport, ahead of United’s first San Francisco flight (UA870) under the new partnership, hosted by Virgin Australia Group CEO, Jayne Hrdlicka and United Airlines’ Managing Director of International Sales, Marcel Fuchs.

In typical Virgin Australia and United Airlines’ style, the partnership was launched with much fanfare from dancing cheerleaders and Aussie surfers to free donut and pretzel giveaways.

“Today is another fantastic day for Virgin Australia,” Hrdlicka said. “We are opening up nearly 100 one-stop destinations from Australia and hundreds more destinations beyond that into the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean, and effectively tripling our reach into the United States.

“For travellers across Australia you now have the opportunity to earn Velocity Points, and when you fly you can earn Status Credits and there are also reciprocal loyalty benefits.

“If you have a lot of Velocity Points in the bank you can use them to redeem on flights to the United States, so it’s a really important thing to be able to fly overseas and to be able to do that feeling like you’re still connected to the airline you call home,” she said.

During the festivities, Hrdlicka and Fuchs, along with cabin crew from each respective airline, cut a ceremonial ribbon to mark the start of the new partnership, which significantly expands seamless travel opportunities and trade between Australia and the Unites States.

Up next, United Airlines will expand its Australian services from June 2, with the return of the carrier’s popular Melbourne-San Francisco route.

“Today is a big day not only for United Airlines and our partner, Virgin Australia, but also for the customers of both airlines as they can enjoy more flight options and mileage benefits,” said United’s Fuchs.

“Australia has always been a key part of United’s international network and today’s partnership launch is a perfect example of our commitment to the Australian market where we’ve been serving for more than 35 years.

“We will continue to work together with Virgin Australia in order to provide our customers with more convenient and comfortable travel experience.”

Hrdlicka said the partnership for Virgin Australia has immediately tripled the airline’s reach into the Americas (USA, Mexico and the Caribbean) and the new deal comes alongside a recently announced a new partnership with Qatar Airways and the news the carrier will resume international services to Bali on 15 June 2022 and Queenstown, NZ in December 2022.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management