Virgin Australia has unveiled a number of enhancements it will be making to its trans-Tasman services between Australia and New Zealand, including improvements to its meal options, miles earning and onboard connectivity.

These enhancements will notably include a “substantial” meal and drink for passengers in all classes as well as access to wifi on board all flights, the first 15 minutes of which will be free. Passengers also get a minimum of 23kg baggage allowance regardless of fare class.

The new offerings will be available to all travellers flying to Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown, Wellington and Dunedin starting October 28.

Speaking about the enhancements, Virgin Australia Airlines group executive, Rob Sharp, said: “Last year, 1.5 million Australians flew to New Zealand and we’re looking forward to making their trip across the ditch even more enjoyable with a meal and drink as well as wifi so they can keep connected whilst in the sky.”

For members of Virgin Australia’s frequent flyer programmes, trips to New Zealand, Bali, Fiji and Samoa are also set to become more rewarding with Velocity Frequent Flyer Points and Status Credits earning potential due to receive a boost.

Also starting October 28, Velocity members will receive at least five points per dollar spent on fares from New Zealand. Platinum, Gold and Silver members will receive more courtesy of their Points Bonus, with Platinum members able to get up to 10 points per dollar spent.

This notably shifts the earning mechanism for Virgin Australia’s short-haul trans-Tasman flights from distance travelled to a revenue-based system.

“For the first time, Velocity members will earn points per dollar spent for short-haul international destinations, rather than based on the distance travelled,” said Karl Schuster, Velocity Frequent Flyer’s CEO.

“Members will earn more Velocity points when travelling to these destinations and we believe our points offer for New Zealand flights is one of the best.

“Members will also experience improved Status Credit earn to many short-haul international destinations, including flights to and from New Zealand. This means members can achieve a higher Velocity status faster and unlock further membership benefits.”

Along with improvements to its own services across the Tasman, Virgin Australia has also entered into a codeshare agreement with Singapore Airlines that will see it place its code on Singapore Airlines’ four-times-weekly flights between Melbourne and Wellington starting October 28. Points and Status Credits can also be earned on these Singapore Airlines-operated flights.

Virgin Australia’s new raft of enhancements comes amid increasing competition from Australian rival Qantas and former partner Air New Zealand. Since 2010, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand have partnered on all trans-Tasman services, however back in May the airlines announced they would be ending the agreement when it is due to expire this October.

Since then, both Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand have unveiled new routes between Australia and New Zealand, with Air New Zealand also having announced a new agreement with Qantas that will see the two airlines codeshare on 115 domestic routes in the two countries.

“We’re committed to expanding our presence in New Zealand with new services including flights from Sydney to Wellington; Melbourne to Queenstown; and Newcastle to Auckland, as well as extra flights to Auckland, all of which commence in the next couple of months,” Sharp added.

Once launched, Virgin Australia’s trans-Tasman network will include the following routes:

From (Australia) To (New Zealand) No. of return flights per week*
Brisbane Auckland 14-17
Christchurch Daily
Dunedin 3-4
Queenstown Up to daily
Wellington 9
Gold Coast Auckland Daily
Melbourne Auckland 14
Christchurch Daily
Queenstown 3-5
Newcastle^ Auckland 3
Sydney Auckland 19
Christchurch 3-4
Queenstown Up to daily
Wellington 5

*From October 28, 2018
^November 22, 2018-February 17, 2019