United has entered into a codeshare and reciprocal loyalty agreement with Virgin Australia.
The partnership, which will replace Virgin Australia's current codeshare arrangement with Delta, is to take effect in April, pending government approval.
United currently offers daily flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Sydney. The carrier expects service from Houston and nonstop service to Melbourne to resume in 2022. Under the partnership, United customers would be able to travel on to destinations such as Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. Conversely, the partnership would give Virgin Australia customers access to 92 one-stop connections across the U.S., the carrier said.
Reciprocal points and loyalty privileges
In addition, United MileagePlus and Virgin Australia Velocity loyalty program members would have reciprocal point accrual and redemption privileges. Eligible members would also receive reciprocal loyalty privileges, including lounge access; priority check-in, boarding and security clearance; and additional baggage check allowances.
Virgin Australia and Delta were joint venture partners prior to the pandemic, jointly marketing, scheduling and operating antitrust immune flights between the U.S. and Australia. However, with Virgin Australia in bankruptcy and the carrier having suspended long-haul flying, the carriers allowed the joint venture to elapse in September 2020.
At present, Delta and Virgin Australia codeshare on Delta's lone Australia route, which services Sydney from Los Angeles.
Virgin Australia, which emerged from bankruptcy as a much smaller airline, does not currently service the U.S.