Velocity Platinum status just became more affordable than ever

Sharpened baseline pricing for Virgin Australia business class means top-tier status and perks can be yours for less.

By Chris Ashton, April 4 2022
Velocity Platinum status just became more affordable than ever

Virgin Australia is throwing down the gauntlet in its bid to lock away a sizeable share of the domestic business travel market, with entry-level benchmark fares slashed to $299 for flights on the country’s busiest routes – and the bold move will also give Velocity members their quickest path to top-tier status yet.

Joining reduced rates on the ‘triangle’ between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, a slew of other leads-ins will now be reset to $309 for the likes of Sydney and Adelaide to Hobart, Brisbane to Adelaide, and Brisbane and the Gold Coast to Cairns.

The airline says its cut-price business class baseline is now ”up to 60%” cheaper “when compared to pre-Covid levels.”

“By way of example, a Virgin Australia business class flight from Melbourne to Sydney available on 31 March 2022 is $580 cheaper compared to the same flight in the same class available on 19 November 2019,” the airline cites.

It’s a bold but no doubt spreadsheet-approved move as Virgin carves out its uniquely mid-market position, undercutting Qantas as the premium carrier with an unabashedly premium price tag, while also soaring above new challenger Rex.

Pathway to Platinum

A knock-on effect of the reduced business class fares is that Virgin’s Velocity frequent flyers can achieve Platinum status – the highest non-invitation tier of the airline’s& loyalty program – for less than ever.

Virgin’s current 45% bonus status credit offer, which has been extended for travel until June 30, makes that even quicker and more affordable for members to unlock top-tier Platinum benefits – as long as they complete the necessary flying by the end of June.

Darting between Sydney and Melbourne or Sydney and Brisbane, for example, you’d need only seven return flights – normally 110 credits per trip, but now upped to 158 – to earn the necessary 1000 credits if you started from scratch (in fact, you'd tip into Platinum before stepping onto your very last flight), for a total travel cost of $3887.

Of course, if you’re already partway up the status ladder – such as Velocity Silver or Gold – that 1000 status credits target will take far fewer flights.

Even when the promo ends though, the newly benchmarked fares still represent incredible value, bringing the lofty heights of Velocity within reach for less than ever before.

Bringing business class pricing back to earth

Virgin Australia Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka maintains it’s all part of a plan “to create a more affordable and accessible business class offering” – and one which makes travellers think twice about accepting the high fares they’ve perhaps been long accustomed to.

“Our Business Class airfare pricing is another example of how we have reset our cost base and then invested in creating premium travel experiences at very affordable and competitive prices, which we know our customers love,” Hrdlicka says.

“If you look at the corporate and SME market as an example, many organisations are emerging from the pandemic with a more value conscious orientation and we are confident they are going to find our pricing across Economy, Economy X and Business Class very attractive."

Going above and 'Beyond'

Hrdlicka also confirmed the airline’s “invitation-only premium lounges” – formerly known as The Club but now rebranded to Virgin Beyond – will re-open on 20 April 2022.

Separate to the newly-launched Virgin Australia Business Flyer program, the Beyond tier – which includes invitation-only lounges in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – adopts a more commercial footing as a drawcard for companies with a high travel spend, to help Virgin better compete against Qantas for the business and corporate market. 

However, despite indications of greater transparency on just who can enter these secret VIP lounges, the official entry criteria will not be made public. 

Additional reporting by David Flynn

Bain Bain Bain get your ducks in a row quick smart your killing us all. A mate said 36 months ago break even at a guess was around 32-34% seems he was right. I took many business flights this week and another mate who I have been flying with for 11 years said Jayne rang him personally  to have a chat and the new club was being announced by the end of March. Qantas has there status security line open why hasn’t Virgin???? I better not mention how much that is rumoured the CEO will get once the company is listed on the ASX. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 569

Of course there is a 'dark side' to this good news story - VA has only eight (8) business class seats on a plane.  Wonder if they'll have to eat into Economy-X rows 3, 4 and 5?  Has VA2 released a proposed seat map of the Max 10?  I think (emphasis added) that United Airlines will have 4 or 5 rows of what they call 'First' class seats, but I'm by no means certain.    

doesn't QF have same 8 business class seats on their 737s ?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 569

QF 737-800's generally have 3 rows of 3 seats.  

no they don't !!! 2 x 4

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 569

Seat map on Qantas web site shows 3 rows of 4 seats, but I'll happily defer to your more intimate knowledge of Qantas metal.  Cheers :-)

ok so we were both wrong

QF

03 Jul 2015

Total posts 20

Not in business with QF. 4 rows of 2 x2 seats when I travelled last week.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 470

On what aircraft? All of QF's B737s have 3 rows of Business, 4 seats per row, for a total of 12 seats. The B717s which have a Business cabin also have 12 seats. The E190s have 10 seats in Business.

QF

03 Jul 2015

Total posts 20

Apologies, my mistake.  3 x 4 J class.

11 Sep 2018

Total posts 11

From memory it was 2 columns of 3 sets of 2 seats. so 12 in total

Another good point by B-T, on my trips this week the business class was packed to the brim except for one flight. 4-5 business rows and economy x getting benefit would be an option I'd be doing along with free fast Wi-Fi.

bsb
bsb

21 Jul 2011

Total posts 82

As a self employed rusted on QF Platinum, even I have endured the Sydney and Melbourne awful terminal experience and bought VA biz class over the past few months, about to go platinum on them too.  At these prices, they are less than double most Red e deals and I can put up with the Virgin security debacle in Sydney (and to a lesser extent Melb)  and the  dark cramped Melbourne terminal and fly J. Plus VA get security boarding and baggage delivery right. I still much prefer the whole QF experience, but at these prices the VA strategy is working with me.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 348

As a loyal and longtime QF preferred traveller, we’ve been flying VA a bit lately for this very reason. Intrastate Queensland fare for $200-$290 depending on destination, and flights to Sydney for $299. Reached gold and not far off Platinum.

On a recently booked flight, QF were $250 economy and VA $289 business.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 780

Having status with both VA and QF I rate both airlines equal (in different ways), but on price point VA is hitting the mark.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 569

Interesting comment UU&A.  We often read comparisons by professional journalists, who feel the need to be 'Uber fair' to both airlines, whereas we travelers are far more 'promiscuous' in our choices and brutal in comparison of things that matter to us.  Rarely does more than 50% of a claimed benefits (by a service provider or airline carrier) matter to as much as 50% of patrons (the other 50% of patrons are concerned with well less than 50% of claimed benefits). Hope that makes sense?  So from a service providers perspective, it pays to keep the benefits fewer in number and more tangible (i.e. readily measurable/recognisable by intended recipients).    

I'd be really interested to read something whereby ET/David selected, say, 5 or 7 readers (myself excluded please), interrogated those willing to participate on what matters (and what does NOT), then in a 2nd session had those participants rate both airlines on the top 4, 5 or 6 things that mattered to them (collectively) and whom they thought were better.  Yes, its a dreadfully small sample, no pressure on David to 'get it right' (I'd trust his judgement), but the results would be those of sampled ET Readers (ET per se would be blameless).  

most airlines have 3, 4 or more, different business class fares. It's just VA now have a cheaper option.

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 225

Quite simply the fares are industry leading - and the perks of gold and platinum comparable to Qantas are unlocked for a fraction of the cost, ten trips in J for example on the triangle might cost $3000 on Virgin and that gains you gold with the status that comes with this, Qantas is always $900+ for a J seat and would cost $9000 like for like. Same plane, same seat, similar food, same lounge, better frequent flyer reward seat options on Virgin.

This is a massive win for all, who has seen the Transcon fares recently ? $3500 one way on Qantas for a J seat on the 737. Post Covid their fares have more than doubled, Virgin they have halved - and it’s really really a now brainer to travel with Virgin.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 May 2014

Total posts 1

Good for the Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne triangle. Just checked Business Class Brisbane-Townsville for Jan/Feb. Fares have increased by $10

22 Mar 2013

Total posts 7

It's even more compelling an offer when you add in family pooling. Can get one adult to platinum or two to gold (by switching the beneficiary family member) quite easily. 

I just hope they've done their sums right and this works for them financially with reasonable load factors.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Nov 2019

Total posts 82

self employed here too, at $299, Virgin have my biz. All you can eat licorice and mediocre on board meals from Alan at $550+ are in the past 

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 412

It's a shame I didn't even look at this or it wasn't available when I bought my Adelaide-Sydney return flights for Christmas recently.(Basically I am stuck with what I booked)but it's not all bad news for Economy.There is a Muffin Break to buy me a meal for the plane(Muffin and a Pepsi Max on the plane over)but returning from Sydney I can have something from the food court of my choosing before getting on the plane home.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 780

Putting on my marketing guru hat, who do you think are buying the VA business class seats? 

From what I’m seeing it’s people who would normally buy and economy ticket but they can justify spending an extra $70 to $100 on business. One flight I had the option of flex at $279.00 and business at $299.00 it’s a no brainer. 

BOF
BOF

15 Mar 2016

Total posts 18

Must be an East coast thing, just tried a return booking PER-SYD-PER and still over $3000.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 569

The 'golden triangle' referred to above, and in many other articles about the airline industry (here and in the papers) means flights between any two (2) of Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne.  

But it's shocking the fares being charged to/from East Coast to Perth.  I just checked a MEL-PER-MEL (3,340 miles) for June 15-16, $1,998 return in Business - whereas MEL-BNE-MEL (1,748 miles) is $598 return on those dates in Business.    

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 569

. . . and MEL-PER-MEL would be $3,288.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 569

. . . on Qantas.

Thanks for the article. Made me stop and think about being welded as a QF loyal customer. 

We looked at flying to Perth in May in business. Same days, same times, same 737 - VA $4600 v QF $10,530. 2 PAX return.  They have got to be kidding themselves! QF is 230% more than VA for essentially the same product.

As seen in previous posts, we are SME people and look for value.  QFF Platinum hand cuffs are not going to last long now. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 569

Dear Meridiengroup, "we are SME people and look for value" - you are not alone.  Fiscal promiscuity is a virtue, "go you good thing" !!  Loved the way you stripped it back to the one simple fact that matter$.  

P.s. The VA website is really good too. 

So to maintain Platinum I need 800 status credits, March April will give me 800 status credits so do I start flying Qantas for the other 10 months to pickup P1?

KC
KC

09 Nov 2011

Total posts 26

And remember that VA is changing their old VIP club membership to a commercial level program, so accumulating more than just platinum required points may well lead to achieving whatever new level they plan to offer. Which I would figure to be a compete with P1 @ QF.

(I hope.)

@KC Myself averaging around 2400 status credits a year for each of the last 5 -8 years with VA and receiving a VA Platinum card today in the mail would suggest that there will not be a P1.  Last 2 months on Virgin Money I spent close to $100k (3 credit cards topped up with cash).  

PS. I should add if they had a fight club (points club), I'd come to the party with even more credit card use.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 503

Haven’t traveled with VA recently, is the business class experience (lounge and front end of the plane) really similar to QF nowadays?

Most responses here suggest they are “essentially the same product” but, is it more of “the difference in quality of service is still there but definitely not worth the amount of extra money spent flying QF”?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 348

Many (my wife included) are saying the food is better on VA business, so if both are operating a B737 and you’re $500+ better off, I’d say it’s a no brainer.

Does anyone know if spirits are back being served on QF? My last flight up to Cairns in late 2021, it was still just beer and wine.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 503

I presumed the J class meals has improved a lot from late last year then.

Even in October we have people complaining on the poor selection on both QF and VA flights

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 569

I think you'll find the J-class seats in Qantas' A330-200 planes are hard to beat.  As for the rest of the Qantas package (end-to-end on the journey), I couldn't possibly say. 

15 May 2022

Total posts 1

Hope the newbie Platinum’s aren’t looking forward to their upgrades. I’ve given up after 3 calls for each of my last 6 flights. I think VA would rather sell an upgraded seat for another 50c than let Plat members use this perk. Don’t offer if you don’t intend to make it accessible and achievable 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Feb 2017

Total posts 39

I agree, my last 4 complimentary upgrades went unsused and looks like this lot will also. 5 calls to the plat line and I get the same "I'm really sorry there is nothing available, these complimentary upgrades come from the same pool as the business reward tickets so try back closer to your flight time" ha! heading quickly towards a 'too many chiefs' scenario at VA


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