Virgin Australia cuts lounges, points, upgrades on partner airlines

By David Flynn, October 15 2020
Virgin Australia cuts lounges, points, upgrades on partner airlines

Virgin Australia has removed a raft of benefits enjoyed by Velocity Frequent Flyer members when travelling with partner airlines including Singapore Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Etihad Airways.

The changes affect access to airport lounges, the ability to earn Velocity points and status credits and the availability of upgrades. Curiously, although announced on October 14, Velocity notes these are "effective September 2020."

The Velocity website explains the cuts as being "a consequence of COVID-19 and some government-imposed international travel restrictions" but doesn't flag that these changes are temporary and would be reinstated once overseas travel returns.

Approached by Executive Traveller for comment, a Virgin Australia spokeswoman said it was "certainly the intention" that these changes would be reversed at a later date.

Earning points, status credits

Velocity members will no longer earn any frequent flyer points or status credits when travelling on a codeshare flight by any partner airlines which carries a VA flight number.

Oddly, it appears you'll still be able to earn those Velocity Points and status credits on partner airlines as long as your booking is directly with them – on a flight bearing their 'native' code, such as EY for Etihad Airways and SQ for Singapore Airlines.

The additional 'tier bonus' serve of Velocity points will continue to apply to flights on Delta Air Lines and Etihad Airways.

Lounge access

Platinum and Gold members of Virgin's Velocity loyalty program "will no longer be able to access the Alitalia, Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines lounges,", the airline says.

However, "Velocity Platinum and Gold members can continue to access all other eligible Velocity airline partner lounges".

Delta Air Lines

Velocity Points can no longer be used for upgrades on US partner Delta Air Lines if the flight has been booked under a VA flight number.

In addition, Velocity Platinum, Gold and Silver members are no longer eligible for a free  upgrades from Delta's economy class cabin to the extra legroom Comfort+ seating.

As previously reported, Delta and Virgin Australia have paused their joint venture partnership until Virgin resumes flights to Los Angeles.

"We both anticipate that Virgin Australia will fly to Los Angeles again, and when that happens, we look forward to restarting the Joint Venture," Clare Black, Delta’s General Manager of Australia New Zealand, told Executive Traveller last month.

“We’ve remained in very close contact with Virgin Australia throughout the whole COVID-19 pandemic and Virgin’s administration process, and they do remain a very long-term strategic partner for us,” Black said.

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

12 Aug 2020

Total posts 11

All this makes my almost new Westpac Velocity card somewhat pointless. Literally. Have stopped using it and reverted back to Citibank Emirates Mastercard. At least there is some hope of using the points in the future. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

30 Oct 2015

Total posts 59

How To Lose Loyal Frequent Flyers 101

Don't know how they are going to win us platinum members back. Really looking forward to my $0.99 noodle cup in business class.....

I'm moving back to Qantas. 

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 192

Hot water for your noodles cup may be extra

14 Nov 2018

Total posts 3

Hear Qantas are about to make changes to its frequent flyer scheme.

Feel it will be on the same lines.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jan 2015

Total posts 63

My new alternative to Qantas will be REX on the Mel-Syd work flights

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 192

You may want to get used to being asked “sweet or savoury”

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Mar 2014

Total posts 221

Packed QF lounges in 21

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Nov 2012

Total posts 58

Lounges will be empty because a) fewer will fly and b) status will be elusive for many and c) those that have to pay for the club won’t get their business to do so.  

16 Aug 2017

Total posts 16

Perfect time for QFF to offer a status match, I'd happily now swap my VA Plat for QF Gold.

Very sad but the writing has now been carved into the wall. 

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 192

I know the recent Qatar status match is a different kettle of fish esp with domestic travel when QF metal is involved but I would have thought QF would still consider any inquiries or request for a status match from VA Plat with the right mix of itinerary to show from 2019. I think ET did a feature in June 2020 as Qantas Tier Accelerator 

Although no guarantee of matching as opposed to an official status match promotion, it beats waiting for one that may never come in time. 

Of course you will have to ask them to extend the qualifying earning period to 12 months rather than 3 month unless you have a lot of domestic QF flights coming up, since the usual way of quickly earning these status credit by transcontinental return trip under QF metal is not available 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2013

Total posts 123

Not sure why they would offer a status match, when there is no competition?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Nov 2012

Total posts 58

A truer word has never been spoken, but they will likely be seduced by the notion.  REX offering a status match would be very interesting, so long as there is something to get excited about with their offering after our first ‘novelty’ flight. 

Rxm
Rxm

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Jan 2017

Total posts 51

Correct me if I’m wrong but Rex don’t have a frequent flyer programme or status levels. They have a frequent business flyer programme with one FF number for all employees offering a free sector after a certain number of flights. They currently don’t even have a business class. Finally there is only paid lounge membership options. 

oxy
oxy

03 May 2017

Total posts 23

QF don't need to offer a status match, they effectively have a monopoly on J class and the business traveller market shortly. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 273

The slow change to Virginstar continues.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 509

I expected that BUT if they move away from Paul Scurrah model it will be short term gain for long term failure as we have all seen time and time before, your business target should be the market leader not a target that only has around 10% market share.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 769

Reading the news today tells a few things - Scurrah is on the way out and Bain is going hard into low-cost mode, Bain don't want anything to do with Branson, and the unions can take a flying leap. Which I reckon means one thing - VA2 will morph into something that resembles a LCC and possibly not called Virgin x. 2021 will be very interesting. 

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 192

Yes I also seen that news 

Scurrah is instrumental in keeping the employees on side as one of the biggest creditors in the administration but now that Bain has full control they probably decided they don’t want to partake in Scurrah’s vision of the new Virgin.

Mind you I though at least he would have lasted at least 6-12 months on the job until a working operational network is in place when borders restrictions eased, but this rapid dumping suggest Bain may have a vastly different vision of the new VA from what is articulated publicly by Scurrah and may show its claws within the next 3 months.

Bain may very well validate some previous suggestions of corporate raider and asset stripping.

Oh dear, looks like our VA detractors/supporter online discussion over the future of VA hasn’t really fizzled out yet

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 509

Josh Frydenberg was on a VA flight to Adelaide yesterday, time for the government to step up.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2014

Total posts 118

How is this relevant?

19 Jun 2020

Total posts 17

I am not sure it is the governments job to step in and help a private company make more money

Rxm
Rxm

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Jan 2017

Total posts 51

Don’t forget virgin is the national airline of QUEENSLAND. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 390

Step up how, exactly? What do you want the government to do? 

VA is a private company that has received some government support financially since March (reduction in charges + underwriting some repatriation flights). The Queensland Government has also bought a small share of the airline for $200 million.

Rxm
Rxm

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Jan 2017

Total posts 51

I wouldn’t call 1/5th of a billion dollars a small stake in an airline whose future is very uncertain. 

The government's role is to foster competition in Australia's economy and prevent market failures. I don't see this as meaning provision of subsidies for a private or listed company, but rather to create an environment where competition occurs or better still, flourishes. There's all sorts of mechanisms for this that the government could apply, as readers would know. Having only one full service airline operating domestically would be market failure, as it would hand the incumbent a monopoly. We all saw the impact of that the last time there was no competition in the full service segment. For example, options COULD include allowing ICAO ninth freedom rights to non Australian-based airlines. 

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 509

Well what I should have said; As the government has done with Victoria and rescinded the Chinese Belt and Roads money deals they should rescind the VA take over by Bain if they don't do as they spruiked.

25 Feb 2013

Total posts 63

Virgin Platinum twice over here (i.e. fly enought to gift platinum to wife as well). We have to fly economy by company policy but I fly too much for work to endure a LCC service (or lack thereof) on flights, so will be moving at least 100 flights per year away from VA  if they go this route. Despite really not wanting to move to Qantas I have no interest at all in this new model and won't be supporting it - including dumping all my Virgin associated CCs. There must be champagne corks popping at Qantas HQ right now

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 355

I can read Captain AJ's mind.  He'll wait for the day JH takes the reigns at Virgin and then LOUDLY announce the grandest Status Swap deal in the history of aviation in this country, conditional upon surrender of Virgin gold/platinum cards to Qantas.  

By the end of that week there will be no Gold/Platinum flyers in VFF and a big box of cards will land on Jayne's desk (after all, the cards remain the property of VFF and he'd merely be returning them).  Ouch!  

Not at all 'bitchy' of AJ, just 'business'.  I've always said that if nothing he's one cunning operator (and Richard Branson would do the same in a similar position).  He's not paid the big bucks just for his good looks.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 192

AJ was asked to stay with QF until 2022 and that was in 2019

Given the likely impact of the pandemic on airline industry beyond 2021, I think they will ask him to stay beyond 2022.

Like it or not (esp QF employees), AJ is probably the person QF needs at this time to reduce costs and plan for return of full operational capacity while offloading some aspects of their workforce to rely on contractors. The trick is to make sure the contractors remain compliant to training and security requirements (as the Victorian quarantine security guard contractor fiasco and the NSW Health ancillary service contractors experience exposed) which will be the main difference (and disadvantage) compared to in-house services, where they can directly control hiring practices.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 509

Boeing, 

That started on Thursday key Club members are already negotiating the move

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 252

Safe to say that Global Alliances for the new 'Virgin Blue' can be considered 'dead and buried' for the foreseeable future.  

At most connect partner level (possibily with SkyTeam) considering they're only keeping DL and EY at this stage, but chances of that happening are also close to zero as well.

30 Aug 2019

Total posts 12

Why do you keep posting this on every Virgin Australia article? Especially when there is ZERO mention of Star Alliance in them? Is this your new 'so called savior SQ' rant?

19 Jun 2020

Total posts 17

And so it begins, watering down of benefits till it is no longer worth giving loyalty

05 Apr 2012

Total posts 25

Seems no point in booking an international flight with Virgin if I don't earn the points & status credits. Not that I can fly anywhere until 2021 according to Covid!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

01 Mar 2012

Total posts 175

If I read it properly if you book direct with the partner airline you still get the benefits, it’s just the VA ticketed fares on partner airlines which were ridiculously overpriced compared to buying them direct from say SQ. I never bought international partner airline fares from VA. So really I see a positive change and not yet, maybe, the disaster that we are bracing ourselves for. 

AT
AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 319

So when I read from the article "Velocity members will no longer earn any frequent flyer points or status credits when travelling on a codeshare flight by any partner airlines which carries a VA flight number", isn't this practically the entire international VA network? Why would you ever book a "VA" code itinerary when travelling international? I never thought the Velocity program was clear before this but now I'm completely confused.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

02 Feb 2015

Total posts 30

So So So So disappointed for all of the virgin staff. I have been with them from Virgin Blue days. Often thought about defecting to QANTAS as i love the ads. OK QANTAS , Im ready now...........

16 Aug 2017

Total posts 16

Its really not sounding good

16 Oct 2020

Total posts 1

So disappointed to read this update. I was almost platinum but no chance now. Also wondering how long it will be until they announce the reduction in VFF Points value? Might cash mine in now for some wine and DJs vouchers. Flights and upgrades would be better but I don't think I want to risk it. Grange it is for me this Christmas!


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Virgin Australia cuts lounges, points, upgrades on partner airlines